Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Ryotsu Festival and Oni-daiko

After an amazing BBQ on the beach, where we all ate more red meat than we will probably even seen this year, my friends and I headed down the road to a town in the north of Sado called Ryotsu for their summer festival. The main attraction at this festival, as is common on Sado, is Oni-Daiko.

Sado is famous for this drum driven dance where men dressed as Oni, mythical figures most common translated as goblins or demons, dance to the beat of huge taiko drums, a large barrel shaped drum that was invented on Sado. The purpose of this dance, and the festival, is to drive away evil spirits and to bring fortune on the town. Generally, Oni are not thought to bring fortune, but in Sado they are considered divine. Each prefecture in Sado used to be separate from the others, but Sado recently incorporated into one prefecture and the old provinces are now towns. Each old prefecture, now town, had its own Oni so now there are many Oni at each festival. Each Oni has its own special mask and its own special Oni-daiko dance. It is an amazing performance, almost like a ballet or a scene from an opera. The Oni flip their hair up with their drum sticks, strike fierce poses at the crowd, chase dragons, and in general manage to look pretty serious. If you are even in Japan in the summer, I highly recommend coming to Sado for a festival. You won’t regret it.

The video actually comes from the Sawata Matsuri and is a little dark because the festival was at night. The picture is from the Ryotsu Matsuri. I hope they both turn out alright.

I got this info from 2 of my friends that have lived on Sado for the majority of their lives. One actually taught at Xavier University for 5 years, and the other is boss triathlete (puts me to shame). The information is what they believe to be true, so if the text books say something different, well... I'm going to believe the natives


  1. Looks like you're having an awesome time Phillip! Keep the awesome posts coming! ^^

  2. Please tell me you bought yourself an outfit like that :) I hope Japan is amazing!!!