NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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室生龍穴神社 Murou-ryuuketsu-jinjya Muro Ryuketsu Shrine

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Muro Ryuketsu Shrine is an ancient shrine in the Muro Mountains, which lie on the east side of the Nara Basin in Uda, Nara Prefecture. Muro Ryuketsu Shrine is also called the Ryuo Shrine.

Muro Temple, now in Nyonin Koya, is said to be the Jinguuji of the Ryuketsu Shrine and was also called the Ryuo Temple. The temple's spirituality continues to this day since its beginnings in the Muromachi period. At that time, Ryuketsu, the water God was worshipped and highly respected by the Imperial Court, when prayers were offered for rain.

The enshrined deity at this temple is the Takaokaminokami. The shrine, located behind the temple, holds the three Ryuketsu (Myokichijo Ryuketsu, Mochihokichijo Ryuketsu, and Sasharaebisukichijo Ryuketsu). A tradition has it that a Ryujin (Dragon Lord) lives here.

Every year on 15 October, a Fall Festival called 'Owatari' takes place, during which a male lion and a female lion cross from Muro Temple to Ryuketsu Shrine and dedicate a dance to the Ryujin.
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獅子舞 Shishi-mai Shishi-mai Dance

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The Shishi-mai dance, which was imported from China, spread throughout Japan and has many variations depending on the area.

The shishi (lion) dances to lively music. It is said that there are two kinds of shishi-mai dance: one, unlike its Chinese counterpart, is the 'furyu' shishi-mai, which can only house a single performer instead of a line of men.

In Japan, there are many styles of shishi-mai, with no two styles resembling each other, including several different versions of the 'furyu' and 'kagura' dances.

The head of most shishi is made of wood, but some are made of rice paper or styrofoam. The old Chinese version of the dance originated long ago, while the current version originated in the Qing dynasty to become a competitive sport.

Shishi-mai is performed during every kind of event, including Chinese New Year and the opening ceremonies of new shops. Shishi-mai teams exist in every town.
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