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Japanese Cultural Experience | Sato-Kagura


Come and stay in Kawagoe for an unforgettable experience

Held in Kawagoe, a historic neighborhood in the Tokyo area, this experiential program is an opportunity to watch traditional entertainment called Sato-Kagura up close.

What's Kagura? and the Sato-Kagura?

Kagura is a traditional Japanese performing art with the oldest history among Japanese folk performing arts. Kagura is primarily performed to appease the spirits of the gods as a Shinto ritual. Kagura comes in two different kinds: Mi-Kagura, performed at the Imperial court, and O-Kagura, generally recognized as Kagura. Sato-Kagura, a form of O-Kagura, has been passed down through generations and developed as folk entertainment in old Tokyo. Compared to the conventional performance of Kagura, Sato-Kagura is presented in a casual, fun-like style, sometimes with humor, which was much favored by locals in old Tokyo.


Sato-Kagura, the finest entertainment for Tokyo locals

In the Tokyo area back in the old days, village people, mostly farmers, gathered at festivals of shrines and other occasions, such as a thanksgiving ceremony at the end of the harvest season. During these events, Sato-Kagura was performed to show gratitude to the gods and served as entertainment for the community. Watching Sato-Kagura was one of the most enjoyable forms of entertainment for village people, especially for children.

The true origin of Japanese "sub-culture"

Sato-Kagura is performed in various stories. Many of these stories are thrilling tales about brave individuals who defeat frightening demons and embark on adventures. The unique masks and captivating music of Sato-Kagura are deeply influential in Japanese culture, particularly in traditional Japanese festivals and even modern subcultures, such as Anime and Manga.

Tairano Koremochi, a real samurai in Japan's ancient times, appears in a Sato-kagura story.

The music expresses emotional intonation without using any words, and the melodies played by flutes and drums are simple yet soulful, touching the hearts of Japanese people. Sato Kagura originated among the common people rather than the aristocracy, making it an important part of Japanese entertainment.

The story goes on in silence with music.

Keeping the Sato-Kagura Tradition Alive

In recent years, there have been fewer chances to enjoy Sato-Kagura performances due to the disappearance of villages and urbanization. Villagers used to request professional performers to stage Sato-Kagura at a shrine, but this tradition has become increasingly rare. Today, a handful of professional performer groups, like the esteemed Umebachikai in Kawagoe, are the torchbearers of this ancient custom. They are the ones creating opportunities for us to immerse ourselves in the beauty of Sato-Kagura, making their preservation all the more crucial.

Umebachikai Kagura Party

Umebachikai is a Kagura group founded by Nobuto Shiraishi, a student of the Kagura master Masuo Maeda, who was an exclusive performer at Kawagoe Castle. Started as a gathering of Ohayashi (festival music) musicians in Kawagoe, this performer group has been a community of individuals motivated by their love for Sato-Kagura. For example, one person encountered Sato Kagura in Kawagoe, was captivated by its impact, and requested to join the group. Another began participating in elementary school, and the other was inspired by her mother, who excels in performing Sato-Kagura music. They all share a deep fascination and love for Kagura, a passion that unites them.

Umebachikai offers Sato-Kagura experience opportunities

Held in Kawagoe's historic neighborhood, Umebachika offers a hands-on experience to learn all about Sato-Kagura, from watching the play, dancing with performers, and drinking together, which is like a social event to make friends.

Don't worry about language problems. ARIYA, the super entertainer who is a goodwill ambassador of Kawagoe City, will be your English guide. ARIYA organizes the Sato Kagura experience program that takes place on the fourth Friday of every month, excluding July (The schedule may vary on occasion). Starting from October 2023, the program is being updated to make every guest enjoy Sato-Kagura even more.

Mr. Nobuto Shiraishi, the founder of Umebachikai, explains the features of masks.
ARIYA organizes unique experience programs that are only available in Kawagoe City.

Wearing a monster mask will be like a cosplay experience.

ARIYA is delighted to collaborate with nearby hotels in Kawagoe, offering a range of evening entertainment programs for travelers staying in Kawagoe, ensuring a memorable stay. To find more information about the program, including booking conditions and fees, contact ARIYA Corporation.

ARIYA Corporation

Kawagoe Old Town

Kawagoe, known for the old warehouse district that has remained the townscape of Tokyo for hundreds of years, is one of the most popular travel destinations in the Tokyo area. Kawagoe is actually not only for sightseeing but also for staying, offering various accommodations at reasonable prices. With easy access from central Tokyo, staying in Kawagoe can be a good option for visiters in Japan.

JR Kawagoe Station is within 25 minutes by train to JR Omiya Station, a hub station on the Shinkansen lines. From Omiya Station, you can board any Shinkansen heading towards Kanazawa, Northern Japan, and even Hokkaido. Sight sightseeing around Tokyo during the day and then staying at Kawagoe to enjoy Sato-Kagura will be good options, making your trip to Japan more unforgettable.

Kawagoe Tourist Association

Getting to Kawagoe

From Tobu Ikebukuro Station
Take an express train (Kyuko Express) bound for Kawagoe Station. (About 30 min)

From JR Omiya Station
Take the Saikyo Line train (Kaisoku Express) bound for Kawagoe Station (About 23 min)

From Seibu Shinjuku Station
Take an express train (Tokkyu or Kyuko Express) bound for Hon-Kawagoe Station. (About 60 min)

Umebachikai Kagura Party