Gyozanryu Sasazaki Shishiodori


In 1768, a man named Risota returned home from Shizugawa village in Motoyoshi district, bearing a scroll certifying him as the inheritor of this dance. He was later adopted by the Osorei family in Sasazaki, Ofunato, and introduced the dance to the district. The chief of the Date clan praised the dance, calling it gyozan (“rare,” “extraordinary”), and granted Risota the akakuyo (red nine-star) crest of a fief-holder, the epithet of “gyozan,” and the frontal cloth with bird feathers. This is the precious ancestral heritage, and the reason why the dance goes by the name of Gyozanryu, “Gyozan School.” The shishigashira headpiece is relatively small, the five-slat sasara (bamboo stick worn on the back) measures around nine feet, and the leader’s costume has the word “Gyozan” inverse-dyed onto it. The taiko drum is small and played at a fast pace. Nimble and energetic, the dance is characterized by a unique bukkomi (the “rush-in” dance). Its repertoire includes narrative pieces, a dance of gratitude, and a dance of prayer for the souls of ancestors.

Glossary of terms in Japanese Folk Performing Arts