Ancient Ceremonial Music and Dance of Mikagura Comes to Portland for First-Ever Performance in the Continental US

For the first time ever in the continental United States, the ancient ritual of Mikagura will be performed in Portland, Oregon, in honor of the Portland Japanese Garden.

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'Mikagura responds to the stars in the night sky and transcends time; it realizes in the present an ancient time which was in harmony with the heavenly bodies,' says Reverend Yoshida.

Portland, OR (PRWEB) May 22, 2014

For the first time ever in the continental United States, the ancient ritual of Mikagura will be performed in Portland, Oregon, in honor of the Portland Japanese Garden. Mikagura (mee-kah-goo-rah) is a form of Japanese ceremonial music and dance which originated in ancient ritual performances conducted by Shinto shrine priests for the Imperial Court of Japan. Seldom seen today, this performance brings 24 musicians and dancers to Portland from Kamakura, Japan, and involves rare traditional musical instruments and a mesmerizing dance that has not changed much from the time of ancient Shinto rituals. With dancers and musicians in full traditional costume, the ceremony is presided over by Head Priest Shigeho Yoshida, of Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine.

“Mikagura responds to the stars in the night sky and transcends time; it realizes in the present an ancient time which was in harmony with the heavenly bodies," says Reverend Yoshida, whose goal is to introduce Shinto concepts of reverence for the sacred spirit in nature to people outside of Japan. "The special feature of this music is its linkage to the movement of heavenly bodies through the universe. The earth is one such body, of course, but the people who live on the earth are forever in haste. However, the movements of the stars in the firmament are the same today as they were in the ancient past.”

The presentation begins with a brief talk by Head Priest Yoshida on the meaning of Mikagura within the Shinto spiritual tradition followed by a performance to be held before a symbolic flame in the beautiful sanctuary of the First Congregational Church in downtown Portland. The church was established in 1851, and over the years has built a reputation for ecumenical outreach. Housed in an imposing stone building constructed in Venetian Gothic style, the church is known for its 175-foot bell tower, magnificent 1906 stained glass windows, handcrafted wood interior and the stunningly restored vintage pipe organ.

Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura, Japan
The present-day Tsurugaoka Hachimangu shrine is one of the most prestigious Shinto shrines in Japan, with a long and close association with the samurai class and the Imperial Family. It owes its origins to Shogun Minamoto Yoritomo (源 頼朝, 1147-1199), head of the Minamoto clan. Yoritomo developed Kamakura as his capital city, and set Tsurugaoka Hachimangu in the center of the city. In 1192, Yoritomo was appointed shogun and founded the Kamakura shogunate, making it the birthplace of samurai warrior culture in Japan. (See http://www.tsurugaoka-hachimangu.jp/history/)

Details of the Event:
Transcending Time: The Sacred Music of MIKAGURA
From Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Portland Japanese Garden at the First Congregational Church

July 19
Lecture 7-8pm
Performance 8-9pm
$12 for members, $15 for non-members; students admitted free with ID.
Reservations required, space is limited
(Reservations open June 10 at events(at)japanesegarden(dot)com)

References for More Information:

NOTES:

About the Portland Japanese Garden
Fifty years young, the Portland Japanese Garden is the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan. Situated on 5.5 acres at 611 SW Kingston Ave. in the West Hills of Portland, Oregon it features five traditional garden styles. The Garden is open daily except on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s. Visit online at japanesegarden.com.


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