‘Shoki – Zhong Kui’ by Yoshihiro Fujita and the Masuda City Iwami Kagura Shinwa-kai
Shimane prefecture is famous for its traditional performing art Iwami kagura, which originated back in the 14th century as an entertainment ritual for Shinto deities. ‘Shoki – Zhong Kui’ is a new take on this classic ceremonial dance, which has been produced by choreographer Yoshihiro Fujita, who spiced up the piece with some contemporary dance elements.
The story is a fusion between the legend of Shoki and the Japanese story of Somin Shorai. The first sees the Chinese deity Zhong Kui fight plagues in the guise of demons by using a large hemp hoop. The second story is about a poor man who helped a god disguised as a traveller. In return, his family was saved from disease by wearing miscanthus wreaths around their waists.
The piece is supported by traditional Iwami kagura melodies using drums, flutes and cymbals. Dancers wear either flowing white or black clothing, emphasising their good or evil character. The terrifying demon creatures representing epidemics are dressed in elaborate traditional costumes and are defeated by Shoki’s magical white hoop.
The plot of the dynamic and colourful play is explained upfront and through English subtitles, so it’s easy to follow the story.
Duration: 63 minutes