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Sagimai Heron Dance in Tsuwano

HOME > Japan’s Local Treasures > Sagimai Heron Dance in Tsuwano


Watch the elegant heron dance, a tradition with over 400 years of history, in Shimane Prefecture

Shimane Prefecture



Tsuwano Town, tucked in the rolling hills of western Shimane Prefecture, is home to the Sagimai Heron Dance, a revered tradition that has been continuously practiced for over 400 years since it was first brought over from Kyoto. This captivating dance pays tribute to herons, a symbol of good fortune in Japan.

During the annual festival, which takes place on July 20 and 27, two performers in heavy 15kg costumes mimic the heron's elegance with fluid, synchronized movements. The herons spread their wings as they dance around each other, resembling the mating dance of the actual birds. The ensemble includes a male and female heron and dozens of other performers who play flutes, beat drums, and sing as they parade through town.

Visitors can catch the dances at 11 places throughout the town, starting at Yasaka Shrine on July 20 and returning to the shrine on July 27. The herons are believed to protect people from sickness, while the red-wigged dancers bearing long staffs are said to scare away evil spirits.

Tsuwano's designation as a Japan Heritage site recognizes its deep cultural and historical significance, and the dance showcases the town's commitment to these values.


How to get there


Take the Shinkansen bullet train from either Hakata Station (about 35 minutes) or Hiroshima Station (about 30 minutes) and get off at Shin-Yamaguchi Station. Switch to the San-in Line Limited Express toward Yonago (about 1 hour) and disembark at Tsuwano Station. 


59-1 Ushiroda, Tsuwano-cho, Kanoashi-gun, Shimane-ken 


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