Sada Shin Noh, sacred dancing at Sada shrine, Shimane
Inscribed in 2011 (6.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
Sada Shin Noh comprises a series of ritual purification dances performed every year on 24 and 25 September at the Sada Shrine in Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture, Japan as part of the gozakae ritual of the changing of the rush mats. The dances are undertaken to purify new rush mats (goza), upon which the tutelary deities of the shrine will sit. The replacement of mats elicits their blessings for the community. Diverse types of dance are performed on a stage specially constructed within the shrine. In some, performers carry swords, holy wooden sticks and bells; in others, dancers wear masks depicting the faces of old men or deities and re-enact Japanese myths. During the gozamai ritual dance, performers hold the rush mats to purify them before they are offered to the deities. Singing, flute and drums accompany the dances, played by musicians sitting around the stage. People believe that Sada Shin Noh should be performed regularly in order to re-enact the power of the tutelary deities, and to guarantee a rich and peaceful future for the people, their families and the community. Sada Shin Noh is transmitted from generation to generation by the people of the community and is actively safeguarded by members of the Association for the Preservation of Sada Shin Noh.