Jangara Nenbutsu-odori is a traditional performing art, which has been handed down in Iwaki City, Fukushima Pref. It is performed during the Kyu Bon period in August (Bon of the lunar calendar). The dance is designated as a city’s Intangible Folk Cultural Property. It is said that the dance originated in Yuten Shonin’s idea during the Edo period. Yuten Shonin (1637-1718), who was born in Iwaki Yotsukura and became a great Buddhist priest, made efforts to find an easy way to teach Buddhist invocation to unbelieving people of this area and guided them into reciting Namu Amida Butsu to the tune of a song. Young men in yukata (informal summer kimonos) with tucked-up sleeves dance and parade through the city chanting a Buddhist invocation to the unique rhythms of Japanese bells and drums. They visit each of the families who go through Niibon (the first Bon following the death of a family member) and pray for the dead person’s soul and console the bereaved. There are about 100 groups of such young men in the city and participate in the activities rooted in the local community. The dance movements are basically the same, but somewhat different in details. Jangara Nenbutsu-odori is a reminder of the summer in Iwaki.
- Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture 970-0000
- Jangara Nenbutsu-odori (Buddhist invocation dance)