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  • Matthew Okuhara

Entertaining the Troops


Bugaku (舞楽) is a traditional Japanese dance that has been performed for the upper society of Japan for over 1000 years!


The dance is noted for its slow, defined and regal movements.


The dancers wear intricate traditional costumes, which also includes masks and traditional headwear.


Following a strict pattern; the music and dance is often repeated several times during the routine and it is performed on an elevated square platform, that reflects its spiritual history.

These performances are not common and at Matsumoto Castle it is only performed once every five years! The orchestra and performers are highly experienced; having performed for the Imperial Court and in national ensembles as well.

The performances are quite spiritual and focus on the sun goddess, Amaterasu. Aeons ago, the goddess whilst offended by her brother’s behaviour, hid in a cave; depriving the world of sunlight. Another goddess, Ame-no-uzume stood on an upturned box and began to dance outside the cave in order to draw her out and restore light to the world.

There was a time when this kind of dance was reserved only for the elite in society; the samurai, and Imperial Court.

But since the Meiji Restoration these traditional dances have been open to the whole world.


Head over to our YouTube channel to see an amazing performance that happened in May 2022 at Matsumoto Castle!

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