Shishimai is traditional dance performed by one or more dancers wearing a guardian lion costume. Kagawa pref. has the most Shishimai (about 800 shishimai) in Japan.
Shishimai is said to have been introduced from China and India to Japan. There is a culture of shishimai around the country, but Kagawa, the smallest prefecture in Japan, has the largest number of shishimai teams (shishigumi). It has an outstanding concentration of shishimai performers. We explored the reason why.
In fall, trees change color and the aroma of fragrant olives wafts through the air. The sound of drums and bells are heard here and there in Kagawa. Shishimai is known as a New Year’s event. In Kagawa, shishimai is associated with fall, dedicated to local shrines wishing for peace and bumper crops. Shrine-based shishimai teams formed in each village and are said to have peaked at 1,200 teams. “Currently, we have about 800 teams, but they completely differ among shrines and communities,” said Mitsuru Sogo, chairman of the Sanuki Shishimai Hozonkai (Shishimai Preservation Society). (Experience Takamatsu)