Example of a Bō-odori from former Satsuma Province

Satsuma bō-odori, or ‘dance of the fighting gudgel‘ from the former Satsuma fief is historically related to Ryūkyū kingdom era bōjutsu. You probably heard that bō-odori in Satsuma had been devised by the Jigen-ryū style of swordmanship to be used as a covert line of defense, yet there were various bō-odori in various regions.

Demonstration of the “Shinchi Baba Bō-odori” by members of the Baba Bō-odori Hozonkai during the 5th Kobayashi City Local Arts Festival on November 30, 2014

Demonstration of the “Shinchi Baba Bō-odori” by members of the Baba Bō-odori Hozonkai during the 5th Kobayashi City Local Arts Festival on November 30, 2014

Today I’d like to introduce the Shinchi Baba Bō-odori, which should be viewed and understood as a performing art, though without forgetting its history: About four hundred and ten years ago, when Toyotomi Hideyoshi dispatched troops to Korea, the Satsuma clan also participated in the campaign. But following the sudden death of Hideyoshi all troops were withdrawn. Shimazu Yoshihiro (1535 – 1619) of the Satsuma clan, whose troops were called the “Shimazu demons”, also returned. On this occasion, various dances were performed in the various regions of his territory as a celebration of Shimazu’s achievements in the war. One such dance has been handed down as a bō-odori.

Rare depiction of 17th century Satsuma Bo-odori.

Rare depiction of 17th century Satsuma Bo-odori.

Subsequently, it was handed down as a dance performed during festivals and other events in a rather ritual function praying for domestic safety and rich harvest. Transmitted through the wartime of WWII, it was resurrected in the postwar period by the youth and volunteers of Nojiri town. Later it became temporarily interrupted but was designated an intangible cultural asset of the former Nojiri town in 1998. The preservation society (Shinchi Baba Bō-odori Hozonkai) is active to deepen the cooperation between the pupils of Nojiri elementary school and to revitalize the arts in the region.

The video shows a demonstration of the Shinchi Baba Bō-odori by members of the Shinchi Baba Bō-odori Preservation Society during the 5th Kobayashi City Local Arts Festival on November 30, 2014.

From the official Youtube Channel of Kobayashi City.

© 2015, Andreas Quast. All rights reserved.

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