Here are the main dance styles which are still performed until modern day in Japan. 

Nihon Buyo

Nihon Buyo is a traditional Japanese dance executed on stage by a performer wearing a kimono and using a fan as props. The dance movement is gentle and elegant, accompanied by shamisen music. Each performance has a different story and emotions to convey. These all come together to make one piece of art. Nihon Buyo is performed either individually or by group performance.

Japanese traditional dance

Japanese traditional dance, JNTO

Bon Odori

Have you ever been to an Obon Festival? Bon Odori (盆踊り) literally means a dance (踊り) held during Obon holiday. Bon Odori is a type of folk dance to honor the spirit of late loved ones and ancestors. 

This is originally one of Buddhism practices though the dance is now considered as a lively movement on summer festivals. At this event, you can see lanterns lit up at night and people wearing yukatas or happi coats. Bon Odori music is accompanied mostly but not limited to taiko drums. People form a circle and dance in small strides to keep distance from one another. Since the music is continuous, the dance steps are also repeated a number of times.   

Kabuki

Kabuki (歌舞伎) is undeniably known as a classical Japanese dance-drama performed with its unique drama style at Kabuki theatres. Make-up and fashion worn by some of its performers is also one of the trademark of Kabuki.

Kabuki (歌舞伎) means sing, dance, and skill. It can be translated as “the art of singing and dancing” but the kanji of ‘skill’ generally refers to a kabuki actor’s performance. The word ‘kabuki’ is said to come from the verb ‘kabuku’  which means “to incline” or “to be unusual.” Kabuki can then be interpreted as “extraordinary” theatre.

The history emerged In 1603 when Izumo no Okuni, a shrine maiden of Izumo Taisha Temple, gained popularity when introducing a new style of dance drama in the dry riverbeds of Kyoto, to which was found to be unusual yet beautiful. The uniqueness was recognized by many and was then later on performed at Imperial Court.

Noh Mai

Noh Mai is a dance style using Japanese background music accompanied by lutes, drums, and sometimes vocals. Performers are generally men and they wear colorful costumes, and sometimes with masks and wigs on. The dance is usually incorporated with a story to tell and is performed on a square stage. 

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