ARTIST

Akasawa Yoroi Kembai

Ofunato

The Akasawa Yoroi Kembai was the first Intangible Folk Cultural Property designated by the city of Ofunato. It is a folk performing art native to the Akasawa village in Ofunato, and its history can be traced back to the late Edo period (1603–1868). After a period of inactivity, it was revived in the Meiji period (1868–1912), and since 1971, it has been preserved along with the “Akasawa Kyokuroku” by the so-named Akasawa Performing Arts Preservation Society. Previously, it was known as “Nugidare Kembai,” with the dancers dressed nugidare style – both sleeves unworn and hanging down – but this was changed to the present armor costume over a century ago, and the dance was renamed Akasawa Yoroi Kembai (“yoroi” meaning “armor”). This style of armor-clad dancing is unique to the Kesen region, and it was Akasawa Yoroi Kembai that laid the groundwork for it. For this and for its gallant and splendid dance that leaves viewers overwhelmed and awed, it is rightly known as the original yoroi kembai (“armored sword dance”).