Festivals are an important part of culture here in Japan. There are celebration days held for almost anything you can think of, and, as they’re spread throughout the year, there is always something to look forward to.
Unfortunately COVID-19 has put a bit of a damper on festivities, but whilst we aren’t able to enjoy them in person, that doesn’t mean that they have stopped. In fact, many festivals and events around Japan have taken the time provided by Japan’s State of Emergency to move online.

Joining the online festival ranks this year is Tokyo Midtown’s ‘Hibiya Festival 2021’. This year the event serves as a memorial to the Tohoku Earthquake of 2011, and features folk art and performances from the region.
The big finale of the event – ‘Sanriku Performing Arts Dance’ – was performed at Tokyo Midtown Hibiya Step Square without an audience on 15 May 2021. The event was recorded and edited, and has since been released on the HIBIYA FES CHANNEL YouTube channel.

The resulting film of the event is more than just a simple recording of a performance. Lasting nearly 40 minutes in length, the video utilises unique camera panning and angles, and succeeds in drawing in the viewer to experience a Japanese festival like never before.

The performance itself tells a story and draws from the experiences felt by the Tohoku region following the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake, and the 10 years of growth and change that have happened since. These experiences and changes are marked at different points throughout the video, and show; ‘Darkness’, ‘Prayer’, ‘Sympathy’, ‘Contact’, ‘Return to Nature’ and ‘Brightness’.

The Sanriku Performing Arts Dance was planned and produced by Culture Vision Japan and Sanriku International Arts Festival. With this year marking 10 years since the destructive 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, it was decided that the Sanriku Performing Arts Dance would incorporate traditional folk arts that originated from Tohoku’s Iwate prefecture.

Because of the State of Emergency, the folk art performers and artists behind the performance had to interact online in order to plan and create the breathtaking performance.
The video was directed by musician Shogo Yoshii, and features performances from the up and coming experimental band KIMIYA SATO MIKUSA BAND, the music project Waraku Soden, and traditional dance groups, Nakano Nanatsumai Ichinokai and Kanatsu-ryu Yokohama Lion Dance.

Hibiya Festival 2021 Sanriku Performing Arts Dance

Event name: Sanriku International Arts Festival Collaboration Event "Sanriku Performing arts dance"
Recording date: 15 May 2021
Venue: Hibiya Step Square, Tokyo Midtown Hibiya
Organisers: Tokyo Midtown Hibiya / Culture Vision Japan / Sanriku International Arts Festival / All Japan Folk Performing Arts Association
Director: Shogo Yoshii
Cast: Kanatsu-ryu Yokohama Lion Dance / Nakano Nanatsumai Ichinokai / Shogo Yoshii / Waraku Soden / KIMIYA SATO MIKUSA BAND / Traditional folk arts performers from around Japan

By - Connie Sceaphierde.