Akiu no Taue Odori:
“Akiu no Taue Odori”, i.e. the ritual dance for the rice cropping in the Akiu Town, has been transmitted by the people in the three communities, and is one of so-called “folk performing arts” openly performed as an annual event in this region. It belongs to the category of ‘Dengaku’ among folk performing arts regarding the rice cropping. It has been transmitted by the people in the three communities of Akiu Town within Taihaku-ku, Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, located in the northern part of the main island of Japan. Mainly composed of movements which remind of the rice cropping, “Akiu no Taue Odori” allegedly began in the latter half of the seventeenth century to pray for an abundant harvest.
Until the early twentieth century, practitioners have performed ‘Akiu no Taue Odori’ at the beginning of a year not only within their own residential communities, but also in neighboring other communities if they were invited. Currently, however, one day in every April or May approximately ten dances are performed by respective communities on the occasion of a festival at temples or shrines therein, or in autumn approximately 10 dances at local theatres.
The Japanese rice dance “Akiu no Taue Odori” has maintained it’s way since the late 17th century in the region around Akiu(today Sendai) in northern Japan.Originally it was used to summon a good rice harvest – a very important occasion for the rural population, as rice isthe staple food of Japan. It represents a ritual practice, which was to serve for the people in the region to protect their most important asset. Agriculture and culture are in this dance in exemplary fashion fused together.
Akiu no Taue Odori Today:Read
In the Akiu no Taue Odori, residents of the town of Akiu in northern Japan pray for a good harvest by simulating in dance the actions involved in transplanting rice. Performed since the end of the seventeenth century in communities throughout the region, the Akiu no Taue Odori today takes place during festivals in the spring or autumn. Ten female dancers dressed in colourful kimonos and floral headdresses, assisted by two to four male dancers, perform a repertoire of six to ten dances. Holding fans or bells, the women align themselves in one or two rows and perform movements designed to evoke the gestures of the rice cycle, particularly taue, the transplantation of seedlings into a large rice field filled with water. Once believed to ensure an abundant crop, the performances have lost their religious significance as attitudes and beliefs have changed, and as modern agricultural techniques have replaced rituals such as the Akiu no Taue Odori as guarantors of plenty. Today, the dance is a cultural and aesthetic event, connecting townspeople to their agricultural heritage, to Japan’s tradition of reliance on rice, and to a group identity transmitted across centuries through folk performance.