Along with the Gujo Odori in Gifu and the Awa Odori in Tokushima, the Nishimonai Bon Odori is known as one of Japan’s three best Bon dance festivals. It takes place annually from 16 to 18 August in the town of Ugo in Akita prefecture. With over 700 years of history, the festival has been nationally recognised as an important intangible folk cultural asset since 1981.
The Nishimonai Bon Odori is also known as the “dance with the spirits of the dead” as participants hide their faces with black hoods known as Hikozukin and woven half-moon hats known as Amigasa while performing their elegant dance. In contrast to their mysteriously hidden faces, the dancers perform in bright indigo-dyed Yukata (light cotton Kimonos) and colourful patchwork Kimonos known as Hanui.
Accompanied by melancholic traditional music and illuminated by the light of bonfires, the mysterious dancers create a ghostly atmosphere.
Seating reservations are available. The bench seats in the front row, known as “Shikiridai”, provide spectators with a close-up view of the dancers. Don’t miss the elegant movement of the dancers’ fingers!