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Kirinjishi Tottori Hyogo



Kirinjishi 麒麟獅子 Kirin Lion Head

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kirin jishi 麒麟獅子(きりんじし)kirin lion head
for the lion dance in spring and autumn.

This kind of mask is also made in Tajima 但馬, Northern Hyogo prefecture.

In 1650, the lord of Tottori, Ikeda Mitsunaka 池田光仲 ordered the construction of a Toshogu shrine to honor Tokugawa Ieyasu in Tottori.
This mask was used for the lion dance to honor the founder of the Edo Bakufu government.

shrine Ouchidani Jinja 樗谿神社
former Inaba Tooshoogu 因幡東照宮

giraffe lion dance, Kirin lion dance

Tottori is often called
Land of the Kirin 麒麟の王国.


The Kirin Dance of Inaba - Inaba no Kirin Shishi-mai
is performed by a group of about ten people. Two of them constitute the kirin, one playing the part of the forelegs and wearing a golden head-mask, the other being hind legs, both dressed in a bright mantle-like garment. The kirin dances to the tune of flutes, drums and bells. The group is led by a shojo character 猩猩, 猩々 (see below). The movement is elegant and slow, unlike many other lion dances in Japan, and is reminiscent of the traditional Japanese theatrical art of No.

The dance is performed at annual festivals of local shrines in the Inaba area of eastern Tottori Prefecture, altogether close to 150 in number. Two-thirds of the festivals are in spring in prayer for wishing a good autumn rice harvest, and most of the rest are in autumn as a mode of thanksgiving. The kirin head-masks are stored in each shrine and taken out for festivals.

The dancers are young men who belong to the ujiko of each shrine. An ujiko is a group of community people who are followers/worshipers at the community shrine, and who also help in many ways in the administrative chores of the shrine.

The lion dance is found in abundance in Japan. Characteristic of this Kirin Dance of Inaba is the head-mask which is in the shape of kirin - a mythical creature of high virtue, born out of Chinese mythology more than 2500 years ago, which looks part lion-dragon and part unicorn. The slow and elegant movement of the kirin is also very unique.

The history of the Kirin Dance of Inaba goes back about 350 years. In 1650, the beginning of the Edo period (1603-1868), the first generation lord of the feudal Tottori clan, the Ikeda family, Ikeda Mitsunaka, constructed in Tottori a large shrine, a sort of branch shrine of the famous Nikko Toshogu Shrine, wherein was enshrined Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Edo Shogunate.

Ikeda also introduced a new form of lion dance to dedicate this newly constructed Tottori Toshogu Shrine. Before, the head-mask for the lion dance in this area was a normal lion. He introduced the kirin, whose figure is famous in the wood-carved decoration of Nikko Toshogu, and the tengu, long-nosed goblin, which led the lion dance troupe, was replaced by shojo, a mythical creature of Chinese origin with red hair like an orangutan, almost as old as the kirin.

Thus the kirin image, born in China probably more than 2500 years ago, and conveyed to Japan in the seventh to eighth century AD, was introduced into the Lion Dance of Inaba.

At first, the Kirin dance was confined to the Tottori Toshogu Shrine, which was also a family shrine to lord Ikeda, but later, spread to neighbouring shrines of smaller scale, all over Inaba area and some neighbouring areas. Today this number is up to 148 shrines.
The dance has been treasured by local people, but in recent years there is a lack of young performers in some of the troupes.

There are 148 kirin headdresses in Inaba area (eastern Tottori Prefecture)and there are 14 in Tajima area (northern part of Hyogo Prefecture). In addition, there are two kirin heads found in Tottori town, Kushiro city in Hokkaido, the northern island of Japan, where some people from Tottori immigrated about a hundred years ago.

source : www.accu.or.jp


Kirin 麒麟 Kirin, Kilin, Kylin - not the giraffe

Legendary animal from China.
Body like a deer, tail like an ox, hoofs like a horse, forehead like a wolf, with wings to take off to the clouds. Appears when a king was crowned in ancient China. Today a good beer!

. Engimono 縁起物 little things for good luck.

Surimono, artist unknown, 19th c.


. . . CLICK here for Photos !

. Reference .


kirin kara shishi made yuki no furiyamazu

from the Kirin
to the lion head
snow does not stop falling

Shimada Kajoo 島田牙城

source : www.kanshin.com

from the Kirin
to the Chinese lion, snow
does not stop falling


. Kirin Beer キリンビール .

. Shishigashira 獅子頭 lion head mask .

. Folk Toys from Tottori .

. kirinsoo 麒麟草 "giraffe plant" .
Sedum aizoon. Fetthenne

. Tohoku after the BIG earthquake March 11, 2011


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