Story by Cpl Stephen Campbell on 07/18/2019Japanese child performers with the Aozora Kids Kagura Association based out of Hiroshima City, performed a Kagura dance for children with the School Age Center at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, July 15, 2019.
The purpose of the event was to give Japanese and American children a way to interact with each other and to show the American children a piece of traditional Japanese culture.
This was the 3rd annual visit the association has made to MCAS Iwakuni.
"The children today watched a Kagura performance which is a traditional performance about the rice festival," said Caylee Bartz, the day camp director for Camp Adventure Child and Youth Services. "I think it's a really unique experience for the children here in Iwakuni. This is a yearly event at Camp Adventure and it is a great way to integrate traditional Japanese culture into their life."
Originally created around the eight century in Japan, Kagura was a performance to offer prayers to the gods. Presently, it is a prayer for world peace and is a performance of gratitude to nature and the gods for a good harvest during rice harvesting season.
During the visit, the Aozora Kids Kagura Association performed a story called "Suzukayama". It is a story developed in the eighth century about the king samurai warrior, named Tamura-maro, whom goes to Mt. Suzuka to eliminate evils in the mountain.
Children with the School Age Center were able to come up to and greet the performers after their performance. They were also able to wear the Kagura outfits and play with the musical instruments that were used during the performance.
"It is my dream to have Japanese and American children to communicate with each other," said Yasunori Ikehara, a performer with the Aozora Kids Kagura Association. "It is difficult for us and the Japanese children to go to the U.S. to exchange culture with each other. We are very happy to be close to Iwakuni to communicate and exchange with American children."