Reviving tradition in disaster-affected communities : adaptation and continuity in the kagura of Ogatsu, Miyagi Prefecture

Lahournat, Florence

Questions of continuity and transmission, as well as relationship to the community, have long occupied an important part of folk performance scholarship. These topics take on a different urgency in disaster-affected communities, where preexisting socioeconomic issues become more pressing and endanger not only the continuity of folk practices but the communities themselves. The aftermath of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami has seen a surge of folk performance revivals in affected areas, hinting to the depth of the ties between local folk performance and community. Following an ethnographic approach, this paper explores the case of the community of Ogatsu (Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture) and its folk performance, the Ogatsu hōin kagura, as one expression of the revival process in an isolated, rural community extensively affected by the 2011 disaster. Putting in perspective the underlying dynamic of continuity and change that characterizes folk performances, the objective is to explore the nature and usage of the kagura and its relationship to the post-disaster community as it responds to changing circumstances.