What is Nihon Buyo?
The original form of “nihon buyo” is recorded in Japan’s oldest history book “Kojiki” that was completed in 712. It describes how a goddess “Amenouzume-no-mikoto” devoted herself to dancing; she put grass on her dress and hair for decorations, clasped a bundle of bamboo leaves in her hand, and stamped her feet on a large pail. Similar stage props and style of beating rhythm with feet are still used in today’s nihon buyo.
It verifies that nihon buyo has its origin in the ancient times. It was, however, only a starting point, and there has been a long process of development in nihon buyo in different rections.
The appearance of Izumo-no-Okuni early in the 17th century was an epoch-making event. She performed on stage what was called “nenbutsu odori” in local Kyoto (a primitive kind of dance in which dancers jumped about to the rhythm of the accompanying bell). Flutes and drums were used for the accompaniment, and the base of nihon buyo as performing arts was established in this era.
Afterwards, different schools were founded, and since then, each of them has been training their students to nurture the talents. Major schools of Nishikawa, Fujima, Bando, Hanayagi, and Wakayagi have handed down and developed further their traditions as pioneers. Including new smaller schools added in modern times, they have created and performed various works of “classical buyo” and “suodori buyo (dance without wearing special costumes).” Since early in the 20th century, “sosaku (original work) buyo” gradually came to be performed.
Today approximately 5,000 professional dancers are actively working in nihon buyo circles, and giving their performances at nationwide venues.