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As Japan’s oldest form of dance with a 700 year history, “Kowakamai” is said to have been the prototype for Noh and Kabuki. Oda Nobunaga himself supposedly performed the dance, which incorporates the use of fans and accompanying narratives. Kowakamai was popular during the Muromachi Era (1336 - 1573) and was supposedly originated by Momonoi Tadanobu (from whose childhood name, “Kowakamaru”, the dance originated) from Echizen (Fukui Prefecture).
After the Meiji Restoration, Kowakamai declined in many areas throughout Japan; the tradition was kept alive in Oe, however, and is now a Government-Designated Intangible Folk Cultural Asset!
Kowakamai is performed in dedication to the gods on January 20 of every year at the dance hall on the Oe Tenman Shrine grounds, attracting sightseers from all over the country. In addition to this performance, the dance is performed two to three times a year at folk performing art festivals throughout Japan.
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