The Nishimonai Bon Odori in Ugo Town, Akita Prefecture, is one of the three most popular Bon Odori festivals in Japan, along with Gujo Odori dance in Gifu Prefecture and the Awa Odori dance in Tokushima Prefecture. It takes place every year from 16 to 18 August. With 700 years of history, it was designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan in 1981.
The festival is also called Mouja-Odori (dance of the dead) because the dancers hide their faces with a black cloth known as hikosa zukin and elegant half-moon-shaped hats made of soft rush called Amigasa. The costumes, on the other hand, are beautiful indigo-dyed yukata and colorfully sewn Hanui kimonos, pieced together for a colorful finish.
The dancers, with their faces hidden, are reflected in the bonfire as they dance to the melancholy music, creating a dreamlike world and bringing a sense of mystery.
To view the performance, it is recommended to pay for a seat for the best views; the paid viewing area on the street offers views closest to the action. Be sure not to miss the stunning performance and the beauty of the dancing that can be seen all the way to the fingertips.