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White Heron Dance (Shirasagi-no-Mai) was performed three times in Asakusa on April 13, 2014. Their second performance was held here on the roof of Matsuya Dept. Store at 2:30 pm.
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The Shirasagi-no-Mai White Heron Dance is performed in Asakusa on the second Sunday of April, mid-May for the Sanja Matsuri, and on Nov. 3.
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There are eight white heron dancers. The dance originated at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto about 1,000 years ago to ward off epidemics and pray for good harvests.
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Bird feeder on the left sprinkled some colorful pieces of paper as bird feed. They dance to music played by 19 musicians.
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The local Asakusa tourist association resurrected the dance in 1968. A picture scroll showed that it was performed in 1652 at Sensoji.
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Be sure to see my video of the White Heron Dance held on April 13, 2014.
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For their third and last performance at 3:30 pm on April 13, 2014, they they walked/danced through the Nakamise mall leading to Sensoji temple in Asakusa. The man is the baton twirler, followed by the bird feeder and the dancers.
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Tourists make way for the white heron dancers along Nakamise mall in Asakusa.
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Passing under Hozomon Gate in front of Sensoji temple. Gotta watch their head.
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A gasp of amazement from spectators could be heard when the dancers spread their wings.
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So elegant.
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White heron dance in front of Sensoji temple.
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A short break after the dance.
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Tourist posing with a dancer after the dance.
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White herons are a common sight in Japan. They do like to feed on rice fields.
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The white heron dancers bow before Sensoji temple before leaving.
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These guardian children headed the procession. They come from Sensoji Kindergarten. 守護童子
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The dancers leave Sensoji.
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White heron dancer on a mural at Asakusa Station.
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I also saw the White Heron Dance in April 2010. It was slightly different. My YouTube video of the White Heron Dance in April 2010.
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The Shirasagi-no-Mai White Heron Dance is performed in Asakusa on the second Sunday of April and on Nov. 3. On April 11, 2010, I found them on the main road at around 2 pm. The mans holds a banner reading "Shirasagi-no-Mai."
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This is on the main road in front of Kaminarimon Gate (giant red paper lantern). The procession occupied one lane of road as they headed for Kaminarimon Gate.
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The shirasagi white heron dancers. There are eight of them. They were to perform the dance at 2:30 pm in front of Sensoji (Asakusa Kannon) temple.
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The procession, headed by chigo children, pass through Kaminarimon Gate.
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There are various characters in the White Heron Dance contingent. This is the baton twirler (bo-furi 棒ふり) in orange pants followed by the bird feeder.
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The bird feeder (esa-maki 餌まき) holds a nice box containing pieces of colored paper.
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The Shirasagi-no-Mai white heron dancers pass through Kaminarimon Gate in Asakusa.
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I'm not sure how they keep the tall bird head and neck on their heads.
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Shirasagi-no-Mai dancer at Asakusa.
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Their costume is quite elegant whichever way you look at it. Shirasagi-no-Mai White Heron Dance, Asakusa.
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This is the umbrella holder (ogasa 大傘). He doesn't really shade anyone.
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Toward the end of the procession is a group of musicians, 19 of them (楽人). Some of them walk while the others ride a float.
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Musicians float. They are playing music all the while.
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Once in a while, the shirasagi dancers spread their wings and do a few dance steps along the narrow Nakamise shopping arcade.
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If you look at their white heron costume, you can see that it's quite ingenius, the way it functions and the way it looks.
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Also see my video at YouTube.
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They head toward Sensoji temple as the crowd make way for them along Nakamise.
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The contingent pass through Hozomon Gate which is right in front of Sensoji temple.
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These guardian children lead the way. They come from Sensoji Kindergarten. 守護童子
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They walked to the area in front of the 5-story pagoda.
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Bird feeder and umbrella holder. 餌まき,
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There are also three warriors who never did anything. 武人
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The White Heron Dance originated in Kyoto over 1,100 years ago to purge the city of an epidemic.
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At around 2:30 pm, they started dancing.
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The eight shirasagi dancers formed two groups of four with the umbrella holder between the two groups.
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The dance started with the baton twirler running around the dancers.
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The bird feeder then sprinkled small pieces of colored paper above the white heron dancers.
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The shirasagi dancers then spread their wings and started to dance.
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Immediately, I noticed the great shadows the dancers were casting. Proof of how good the costumes are made and how well they are posed.
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White Heron dancers were silent and sang nothing as the musicians played.
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Shirasagi-no-Mai White Heron Dance at Asakusa.
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I was told that they practice the dance only a few days before the performance. Apparently, it's not that difficult to master. It also seems that different dancers do it each time.
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Most of the dancers seemed to be high school age, although I noticed a few older women as well.
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Another shirasagi shadow.
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Shirasagi dancers spreading their wings.
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Fingers fastened to the wings control the wings.
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Close-up of the heron head.
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It looks like they are feeding.
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The bird feeder sprinkles more food for the birds.
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Also see my video at YouTube.
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I guess the birds are happy with full stomachs.
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At the end of the dance, they bowed.
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Then there was a rush of people to pick up the "bird feed" which were small colored pieces of paper. I didn't know what was going on, but I rushed in too and grabbed two of the pieces of paper.
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This is what the "bird feed" was. Colored pieces of paper with the kanji characters for "good fortune" and "long life." No wonder people were rushing to pick these up. Well, I guess I'll live a long and prosperous life..
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During a brief break, people gawk at the dancers. This was when I talked to one of them.
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After the dance, they proceeded back to where they came from.
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Looks like the bird feeder still had something left in her food box.
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Each shirasagi dancer bowed to Sensoji (being renovated) before heading back to Nakamise.
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Shirasagi dancers proceeding back to Nakamise.
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Shirasagi dancers along Nakamise after passing through Hozomon Gate.
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The baton twirler does his thing as the crowd gathers around.
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Also see my video at YouTube for the April 2010 performance.
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Information on the date/time when the dance is held is posted at e-asakusa.jp. Note that the time may vary. Last year they started at 3:30 pm instead of 2:30 pm this year.
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Clearing the way down Nakamise. On the way back, they turned right into another temple and did not go all the way down Nakamise.
     
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