Believe is a modern Japanese recreational dance done in pairs. If there are enough dancers, this can be done as a mixer; otherwise it can be a dance for couples who remain together. Because movements are not done in any traditional ballroom position, this is an ideal dance for two women to do together. Presented in 2012 by Iwao Tamaoki. View the pdf here.

Dondokomonde moriagare

“Dondoko” is the onomatopoeic word for drumming, much like the English “ratta-tat-tat” or “rumpa-pa-pum”. “Moriagare” translates roughly as “Let’s have a Party!” This is a modern Japanese dance to modern music. It is done to a children’s song sung by a cartoon-like character who is a taiko drummer.

Presented by Iwao Tamaoki in 2012. View pdf here.

Etchu Ohara

Yatsuo is in the present-day Toyama prefecture (once known as Etchu prefecture) and is the hometown of this particular dance. It is a quiet place surrounded by mountains and water, and is famous for its silk-worm farming. The township goes back as far as 1636. The song was sung by young female workers during the thread-extracting process and was introduced at a Bon festival in July of 1702. This town had a rather a showy culture because, during the season, many of the woman worked at silk factories away from home and earned well. The women also brought back customs not found locally. From 1874 to 1885, the Owara festival was banned because it was considered an affront to good taste and the nights of sleep. In 1922, the Owara-Study Group was formed by people who loved and supported the festival. The group grew into the Toyama Minyoh (folk music) Preservation Society and, with their help, the Owara festival grew to become as big as it is today. During the festival, dancers wear concealing, low-
brimmed straw hats while dancing day and night. Lyrics to the songs then and now are written by famous poets, writers or by average citizens by open invitation. The preservation society tries to keep the original song’s simple but elegant singing style intact and has banned members from participating in any type of singing contests, and singing at other public events as well as by limiting and keeping the musical instruments to the original three.

Presented by Iwao Tamaoki in 2012. View pdf here.

Gujou Odori Harukoma

The "Gujo Odori” festival is one of the three most famous traditional dance festivals in Japan. The town of Gujo-hachiman (Hachiman is a town in the center of Gujo district in Gifu prefecture) is surrounded by mountains and the Yoshida River. There is no other town where folk music is so popular. From early July to early September, there are many folklore events almost every night. Especially at Obon festival (a traditional summer festival in which the Japanese honor their ancestors) from August 13-16, the people dance all night. The sight of more than 20,000 people dancing together in a trancelike state is a real thrill of folklore.
The people of this region have a special love for horses, and the lords encouraged horsemanship and horse trading among its population. The tradition is still alive today. This dance mimics the movement of horses while riding.

Presented by Iwao Tamaoki in 2012. View pdf here.

Iyono Matsuyama Tsuzumi Odori

This dance has traditionally been performed at the Matsuyama Summer Festival, one of Shikoku’s largest festivals. “Iyono Matsuyama Tsuzumi Odori” has been deeply influenced by Noh, a formal theater art popular among the residents of Mastuyama. It traditionally was danced with a tsuzumi, a two-headed drum used in Noh. Recently, however, it was musically rearranged in the style of the Cuban dance, the mambo! This reinvention eventually became the Yakyu-ken Odori and Yakyu Samba, both of which are now popular at the Matsuyama Summer Festival in place of the traditional “Iyono Matsuyama Tsuzumi Odori.” [See full map of Japan at the beginning of this
section for location of this island.]

Presented by Iwao Tamaoki in 2012. View pdf here.

Kagoshima Ohara Bushi

The song is called simply “Ohara Bushi” by the locals but “Kagoshima” is added to differentiate it from other Owara songs such as “Etchu Owara Bushi” and “Tsugaru Ohara Bushi.” The origin of the song is “Yassa Bushi,” which was sung by samurais in Yasuhisa on the front lines during battles. In the Taisho Era (1912-26), a Geisha named Ippachi made this song
popular throughout the local Geisha community. Another Geisha, Kiyomi, recorded it around 1933 and it became quite popular all over Japan. At that time, a dance was choreographed for Geisha performance. The origin of the dance is unknown, but we do know it changed from an energetic, morale-boosting, battlefront song to a labor song sung during soil compacting to lay the foundation for buildings. The dance movements, opening hands from partially clenched fist, as well as the subtle kick steps, are mimicking the pulling and releasing of the rope to compact soil, and removing dirt from clothing. As a part of the preservation, this particular version is certified as the city’s official dance by Kagoshima City’s Department of Tourism and folklore division.

Presented by Iwao Tamaoki in 2012. View pdf here.

Ketsueki Gattagata

The word “Ketsueki” translates as “blood” and “Ketsueki Gata” as “blood type.” “Gattagata” means “not coordinated, or not organized.” See notes about the song under Lyrics.
Pronunciation:  keht-soo-eh-kee gah-tah-gah-tah
Music:  4/4 meter  Japanese Music CD, Track 11
Formation:  Individuals in a circle dancing freely, arms bent at the elbow, hands in loose
fists held at waist height.

Presented by Iwao Tamaoki in 2012. View pdf here.

Sado Okesa

The song and dance “Sado Okesa” are not only popular on Sado Island, but the song is one of the most famous Japanese folk songs among the Japanese and has even been introduced overseas. There are different styles of Okesa Bushi music on the mainland and on Sado, but the best-known bushi (song) is “Sado Okesa,” which can be categorized in three types; “Ogi Okesa,” “Aikawa Okesa” and “Senkoba Okesa,” which is considered the foundation of “Aikawa Okesa” music sung by gold miners of long ago. “Sado Okesa” is based on “Aikawa Okesa” and it is the most beautiful and popular of the three.

Presented  by  Iwao Tamaoki in 2012. view pdf here.


Soran Bushi

“Soran Bushi” is a one of the best-known Japanese folk songs and it is sung at Nishin (herring) fishing sites when moving the herring from large nets onto small boats with hand-nets. The fishing site moves from town to town and as a result, each town has developed its own dance in relation to it. There are currently about ten variations of “Soran Bushi.” Nowadays, some sites can no longer find even a single herring but despite the poor catch, this song is as popular as it
was in the early days. The name of this song/dance comes from shouting encouragement to each other as well as to express the joy of successful catches.

Presented by Iwao Tamaoki in 2012. View pdf here.

Souma Dozuki Uta

This song was sung as laborers packed soil, leveled ground and laid the foundations for buildings. The “Souma Dozuki Uta” has a beautiful melody which carries a unique intonation as the chorus is
sung in the dialect. “Dozuki” means “hitting the ground to harden it.” The movements in the dance mimic those of the laborers.

Presented by Iwao Tamaoki in 2012. View pdf here.

Tajimi ko-uta

Tajimi is a city located in southern Gifu prefecture, close to the border of Aichi prefecture. It became a city in 1940 and the region has been known for Mino- yaki ceramics since the railway was opened in 1900. This city can be divided into four districts according to the type of ceramic product it produces. The song is about the birthplace of Mino-yaki ceramics. “Tajimi Kouta” is performed by the public each August on the anniversary of the city’s founding or at Bon festivals.

Presented by Iwao Tamaoki in 2012. View pdf here.

Unagappa Ondo

[Cartoon Mascot of Tajimi City]. The name comes from Una or unagi (“eel”) and gappa or kappa, the name of a mythological creature. It was a long, long time ago, a time of endless sunny days, and the rice fields were close to drying out. Tajimi villagers began playing Taiko drums and prayed for rain day after day, asking for help from the blessed Kappa-sama, whom they knew to be a messenger of the God of Water. Much to their surprise and gratitude, it began to rain hard. The crops were saved, resulting in a good harvest that autumn.

Presented by Iwao Tamaoki in 2012. View pdf here.