Shishi Odori

Shishi Odori (Deer Dance)

The Shishi Odori or Deer Dance of Japan's Ehime Prefecture dates back to the early 17th century. Young boys wearing deer masks with antlers beat small drums known as kodaiko and act out a search for the female deer who tries to conceal herself. At the Uwatsuhiko Shrine at Uwajima, the Yatsushishi-odori, or Eight Deers Dance, performed in late October, is particularly graceful and is one of the highlights of the autumn festivals held in the Ehime Prefecture.
A Shishi Odori is also held at Hananomaki in Iwate Prefecture. Eight men wearing deer masks perform a sunlight, moonlight, and starlight dance; a measured, ceremonial dance; and a dance that tells the story of a deer's life. This kind of dancing is usually performed during the month of March, but only at the request of visitors.
Japan National Tourist Organization
1 Rockefeller Pl., Ste. 1250
New York, NY 10020
212-757-5640; fax: 212-307-6754
Iwate Prefectural Government
Public Relations and Communication Division
10-1 Uchimaru
Morioka, Iwate 020-8570 Japan
81-1-9629-5336; fax: 81-1-9629-5339
IllFestJapan-1993, p. 118
JapanFest-1965, p. 133
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The procession stops in front of Unganji, the Buddhist temple at the southern entry the town and shishi odori, or lion dances, take place over the following days.