Sanriku International Arts Festival 2023 SHIFT

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Sanriku International Arts Festival 2023 SHIFT

The Sanriku International Arts Festival began in 2014 as a result of the encounter between artists who visited the Sanriku coastal area and local folk performing art practitioners after the Great East Japan Earthquake. This is a festival that reaches over 600km as its core location from Hachinohe City, Aomori Prefecture, to Rikuzentakata City, Iwate Prefecture, aiming to realize a sustainable “creative recovery” by communicating the charm of Sanriku, a treasure trove of performing arts, to people in Japan and abroad, and by exchanging with traditional and contemporary performing artists from all over the world, especially from Asia.

Dates|September 2023 – March 2024
Venues|Various areas of the Sanriku coast

SHIFT: What Continues to Survive

What keeps the local traditional performing arts of the Sanriku coastal region alive even in the face of devastating impact from the Great East Japan Earthquake? While various regions in Japan are simultaneously experiencing less local vitality due to population decline and aging, local performing arts and festivals continue to survive in many communities of Sanriku. This is because such things are an expression of the “meaning of life” engraved in the genes of the people of Sanriku. That is what led them to quickly revive their local performing arts after the disaster, which became one of the driving forces for the recovery of Sanriku.

The times are rapidly changing; the Japanese Poplar trees that serve as the raw material for the hair-like bundles of “Kannagara” adorning the head of the Shishi Odori dancers have become difficult to obtain even in the local mountains. Children who planted these trees eight years ago have now grown up and joined the stage, leading the Usuzawa Shishiodori, in which three generations of the local community dance together. The people will pass down their dances this year as well, eliminating boundaries of gender and different backgrounds, and fearlessly adapting while preserving what needs to be protected. We must witness the sight of the people of Sanriku dancing selflessly, transcending time and individuals within the cycle of the region. There lies the resilient passion of human life, striving to continue living towards the future.

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