Wednesday Night Kagura

Spectacular folk art for the masses, every week in Hiroshima city center. [日本語]

Let’s face it, traditional Japanese performance art can be kind of hard work, especially for the uninitiated. Yes, Noh and Kabuki, I’m looking at you! Here in central-west Japan, however, we are blessed with a form of folk art that is both accessible and exciting to watch. This is Kagura.

Kagura has ancient roots, steeped in religious and court tradition. Iwami Kagura, a regional form that developed in neighboring Shimane prefecture is, however, a completely different beast to the kind of ceremonial dances seen at Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima. With gorgeous costumes, evil demons, eight-headed serpents, gyrating fight scenes with spectacular sword-play and lightning fast costume changes, all accompanied by stirring rhythms and performed before passionate and vocal fans, a night at a kagura show is more of a party than an academic exercise.

Spreading out your blue plastic sheet on the ground, cracking open some sake and enjoying a kagura show with the locals at a shrine festival one of my favorite things to do, but such festivals tend to be concentrated in autumn, and are often in difficult to get to places. Between April and December, however, you can catch some of the region’s best kagura troupes on stage every Wednesday in Hiroshima city center, just a short walk from the Peace Memorial Park.

Every week a different troupe performs two 45 minute tales at Hiroshima Kenmin Bunka Center [広島県民文化センター] starting at 7pm. Doors open at 6pm and the ¥1000 tickets can purchased at the venue from 5pm. Yamata-no-orochi, which features an eight-headed serpent intent on devouring the daughters of local peasants, is performed twice a month, so you have a 50/50 chance of catching Iwami Kagura’s number one crowd-pleaser. Simple English explanations of the stories to be portrayed are provided for non-Japanese readers so repeat visitors can get a good grasp of the wider repertoire (see the full schedule below).

Once the shows are done, audience members are invited onstage to take photos with the cast members and try on some some of the costumes and masks. These photos make for great souvenirs and kids especially enjoy this.

Unfortunately, you can’t take a little bottle of sake or other food and drinks into the show, but there is a 15 minute intermission between the two performances when you can grab a soft drink from the vending machines outside the main hall.

Audience members are asked not to record video, but non-flash photography during the show is no problem. If you want to take photos (and we think you will), please sit in the designated area so as not to disturb other viewers.

All in all, a night out at the Hiroshima’s Wednesday Night Kagura show is not to be missed and great value.

Wednesday Night Kagura is every Wednesday April 5-December 27, 2017 at Hirosima Kenmin Bunka Center. (See map at bottom of page)

Admission ¥1000
Tickets on sale 17:00
Doors open 18:00
1st show starts 19:00
2nd show starts 20:00
Photo session 20:45


2017 Wednesday Night Kagura Schedule

Ohmori (Hiroshima)
September 26 Asahi (Kitahiroshima) Modoribashi Takiyasha-hime
October 3 Ohmori (Hiroshima) Tsuchigumo Modoribashi
October 10 Azaga (Kitahiroshima) Sesshouseki Jinrin
October 17 Suzuhari (Hiroshima) Takiyasha-hime Tenjinki/td>
October 24 Nakahara (Kitahiroshima) Takiyasha-hime Yamata-np-orochi
October 31 Imada (Kitahiroshima) Yamauba Momijigari
November 7 Saioto Asahi (Kitahiroshima) Jinmu Shouki
November 14 Kamikawado (Kitahiroshima) Jinrin Yamata no Orochi
November 21 Kameyama (Hiroshima) Katsuragizan Yamata-no-orochi
November 28 Ryuunan (Kitahiroshima) Ooeyama Yamata no Orochi
December 5 Asahigaoka (Hiroshima) Tenjinki Yamata-no-rochi
December 12 Takiyasha-hime Minamoto-no-yorimasa
December 19 Kinshou (Kitahiroshima) Jinrin Tsuchigumo
December 26 Sanou (Kitahiroshima) Jinrin Yamata-no-rochi