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kagura dances

amea_gari

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Why no women?
Greetings! This is my first post on this forum, and I'm very excited to have found a place where various questions I have about Japan's history and culture can be answered.
I am curious as to why adult women cannot perform kagura. I have read that it will anger the gods, but where does this belief come from? Is it adult married women that cannot perform, or just non-virgins? Also, does their prohibition from performing include playing the music, or is it just dancing?
 

NANGI

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Konnichiwa Amea_gari-san!

Some(a lot?) of kagura ban woman from kagura dancing, but it is not all kagura. There is a woman's kagura too. If anything, the origin of Kagura was performed by woman.

The origin of Kagura
You can see a Miko at big Shinto shrine. Miko is a shrine maiden who were a white blouse and red skirt as like Kikyou or Kaede in Inuyasha(sorry if you don't know Anime Inuyasha). Miko is a clerk now, but she was a sacred dancer of Kagura originally.

Goddess of dancing
Originally, Kagura was performed by woman. And there is a goddess of dancing but not a god, her name is "Ame no Uzume no Mikoto". She is the originator of dancing and Kagura in Japanese myth.

Why a female but not a male
In ancient times, Japanese people believed that woman has prophecy ability as like Delphoi oracle. And Miko is a female but not a male. In ancient times, Japan is a matrilineal society. And Miko had strong politics power. The oldest King(queen) in Japanese history is "Himiko", and she is a Miko.

Does Miko will anger the gods?
Miko had strong politics power. But matrilineal society turned into a patriarchal society, and new religious value was made. It is an uncleanness sense "Kegare". The concept of "Kegare" is difficult and I can not explain, sorry. But people thought woman is an uncleanness existence in the concept of "Kegare". Of course gods hate an uncleanness existence(woman). And some of Kagura ban woman from kagura dancing(and music).

No women were admitted to the temple or Shinto shrine.
Some of temple or Shinto shrine used to be closed to women. But most of all temple and Shinto shrine open up to woman now. But some of Kagura ban woman from kagura dancing by reason of "tradition". And "Sumo", Sumo wrestling is the Shinto ritual but not sports. Woman can not join in Sumo. On the contrary, woman can not enter the sumo ring by reason of "tradition" even now.

Sorry I can not good explain in English. Please decipher my poor English and ask me if you have a question. 😌

NANGI
 

amea_gari

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Thanks

That's great information, thanks :)
I think in the West we have some similar ideas to 'Kegare' around, though I can't think of any specifics. Well, in the Judeo/Christian bible, the Jews had a lot of ideas about uncleanness, and women were considered unclean for a lot of time periods in their life.
I think it's an almost universal idea that blood is unclean, and isn't it especially true in shinto? of course women would be targetted as a result, since they menstruate. I've also read a lot of Western stuff where men considered women 'evil beings sent from the devil' to tempt men away from the path of righteousness. Very insulting for women!!
So I don't know how well these ideas match 'Kegare' but I think I can understand a little of what you mean by it. men are supposed to be high, righteous, and spiritual, whereas women are earthly, full of 'sin' and evil feelings.
Do you think the idea that women are unclean comes from religions that were introduced from China, maybe like Confucianism, rather than ideas developed by Shinto itself?
 

NANGI

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Konnichiwa Amea_gari-san!

Do you think the idea that women are unclean comes from religions that were introduced from China, maybe like Confucianism, rather than ideas developed by Shinto itself?

The concept of "Kegare" was taken from China certainly. But most of all Japanese culture was affected by China and Korea.
In Shinto, women were not uncleanness existence at first. But continental culture changed Japanese values. Shinto is affected by Buddhism and Confucianism. And Japanese get the concept of "Kegare".
But this concept is not developed only Shinto but also Buddhism,or Confucianism. Because Buddhism and Confucianism formed a part of Japanese culture. The concept of "Kegare" was taken from China, and Japanese culture developed the "Kegare". 😌

NANGI
 

phelonious

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i think i've actually seen a woman perform kagura. at the st. louis japanese festival, a kagura troupe from japan came and performed with a full orchestra. i believe there was a female dancer.
 
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