Festivals & Events
Amano Iwato Kagura 天岩戸神楽
Bawdy dances, sun goddesses, cave shrines and the rich mythology of Amano Iwato Kagura
Once you've spent a little time roaming the village and shrines of Takachiho , it becomes apparent that the town takes its high standing in Japanese mythology very seriously. The Amano Iwato Kagura dances form a core part of festivities celebrating this mythology and are held at Takachiho and Amano Iwato shrines .
- The Amano Iwato Kagura dance performance
- A visit to Amano Iwato Shrine
- Seeing the natural beauty of nearby Takachiho Gorge
How to Get There
Takachiho is 140 kilometers from the city of Miyazaki and the trip takes about 2.5 hours if you use the toll road. Get onto the Higashi Kyushu Express (Miyazaki Route) and head north towards Nobeoka. After about 90 kilometers take the exit toward Kumamoto just after the Kadogawa IC. Stay on Route 10 until it becomes Route 218. Stay on Route 218 for another 25 kilometers and then follow the Takachiho signs. They're clearly marked. Once there, Takachiho Shrine is easy to find.
Amano Iwato Shrine is roughly 10 kilometers from central Takachiho. A bus operates between the Takachiho Bus Center and the shrine, or you can take a taxi.
A festival of dances
The main kagura festival is held from November through February in Takachiho , where the locals dance to pray for a good harvest, ward off the devil and invite deities to a building called Kagurayado. You can see all 33 dances performed from dusk to dawn in a massive nightly celebration.
If you're in town just for the day, then you can catch a performance of the highlights each night at Takachiho Shrine , which includes the Amano Iwato Kagura. Takachiho offers a fantastic glimpse into Japan's past, as well as some incredible scenery at places like Takachiho Gorge . Make sure you set some time aside for a visit here.
Kagura at Amano Iwate Shrine
Alternatively, you can see kagura dedications being performed at the Amano Iwate Shrine itself. These happen in early May during the spring festival, at the autumn festival late September, or on Culture Day on November 3.
Saving the best for last
The 33 dances depict the legendary tales of Japan's mysterious past. The Amano Iwato kagura is number 33, or the final one.
It retells the story of the sun goddess, Amaterasu. She hid in a cave and deprived the world of light until a series of rowdy, bawdy, slightly erotic dances lured her from the cave. In the process, she returned light to the world.