Performed since ancient times, the traditional performing art of kagura has been passed down through generations, evolving with each step of the way. Kagura continues to amaze audiences even today, garnering standing ovations and cheers from audience members, and especially from international tourists. Kagura has also been used as a gateway to Japanese culture: fashion designer KENZO used the traditional performing art during his runway at the 2017 Paris Fashion Week held in Paris, France, to the delight of the audience.
It is our hope that through this site, international visitors will be able to learn more about kagura and be inspired to see a live performance here in Japan one day.

Asahigaoka Kagura Troupe

The History of Kagura

Kagura began as a ritual ceremony to express gratitude for the bounty of nature. The ancestors of the Japanese people believed that everything that happened in this world was the work of the gods. The name “kagura” (神楽; lit. “god/s” “entertainment”) was used to describe the ritual ceremony that expressed gratitude to the gods during festivals where crops harvested in the fall were offered to the gods at sacred shrines. As local shrines dedicated to local deities were built across the country, so too did kagura spread with them. The art of kagura was inherited by Shinto priests and the people of the community; today, it is preserved and passed down as a traditional Japanese folk art taking many forms across Japan.
While the exact origin of kagura is not known, it is believed that the ritual originated from the Japanese legend of Ama-no-Iwato (lit. “heavenly rock cave”), in which the sun goddess, Amaterasu, hides away in a cave and Uzume-no-Mikoto uses the art of dance to successfully draw the goddess out. This is thought to be the origin of the arts in Japan and Uzume-no-Mikoto is revered as the goddess of revelry and the arts.

About Kagura Performances

Lively Music
Kagura performances are always accompanied by a quartet of musicians playing the large taiko drum, the small taiko drum, hand cymbals, and a kagura flute. Surprisingly, sheet music for kagura does not exist as the musicians learn the rhythm and sounds completely by ear. If you listen closely to the music of each kagura troupe, you will be able to hear the differences between the way the music is played by each troupe.

Hasatake Kagura Troupe

Stunning Costumes and Masks
The players onstage are adorned in gorgeous, gold-threaded costumes handmade by skilled craftsmen using traditional techniques. The masks used in performances are also works of art, expressing a variety of emotions and adding drama and excitement to performances.



Kakita Mask Aatelier

Staging and Performance
Kagura plays are staged to delight audiences. From the lightning-fast mask and costume changes that turn beautiful princesses into fearsome demons to the way that dialogue builds to a terrifying climax, audiences will be thrilled at the progression of each story. Each player embodies their character fully and their performances are enhanced by the use of theatrical stage lighting, smoke, paper streamers, and more.

But kagura isn’t just performed in Japan: it has been presented to audiences at festivals across the globe to high acclaim, spreading Japanese culture to the world.

Opening Ceremony of New York Fashion Week

Kenzo Spring Summer 2017 Fashion Show

Kenzo SS 2018 Runway Show


The History of Hiroshima Kagura

An Evening of Kagura



kagura kagura

An Evening of Kagura

Regular kagura performances began as a way for foreign tourists to enjoy Japanese culture and the nightlife of Hiroshima.

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15 Cultural Assets (Japan Heritage)

Iwami Kagura is performed in the Iwami Region of western Shimane Prefecture, and the kagura play that takes place in nine cities in Iwami (including Hamada City, the home of Iwami Kagura), entitled “Iwami Regional Kagura: the Mythical Realm of Gods and Demons,” has been recognized as Japan Heritage by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.
In addition, fifteen historical sites, traditional performing arts, and traditional craftworks in Hamada City have been recognized as cultural assets. These include Iwami Kagura, hand-carved wooden kagura masks, Iwami Kagura masks, Sekishū Washi paper, Iwami Kagura’s distinctive snake demon costumes, and Iwami Kagura costumes.


Matsubara Kagura Troupe

The Kagura Dome (Largest Kagura Venue in Japan)

Kagura Monzen Tōji-mura Village in Akitakata City (Hiroshima) is the best place to experience both kagura and traditional Japanese culture. In addition to the Kagura Dome, one of the only dedicated kagura facilities in Japan, Kagura Monzen Tōji-mura Village is also home to Kamukura-za, a theater to enjoy traditional Japanese entertainment forms; these two theaters allow visitors to experience the greatest kagura performances possible. Visitors can also enjoy a refreshing dip in the on-site hot springs, stay the night in traditional lodgings, enjoy a meal, or even just enjoy some tea at one of the many shops in the village.

For more information, click here.