Hyogo also takes pride in its rich and diverse cultures as represented by traditional performing arts and festivals. The Awaji Puppet Theater, boasting a history of 500 years, has been designated by the national government as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property. Through its performances frequently given overseas, including in Paris, Milan and Seattle, the art has earned recognition around the world. Sasayama Kasuga-noh is a traditional art event performed on the noh stage constructed back in 1861 at Kasuga Shrine in Sasayama City in the Tamba district. Currently noh and kyogen performances are given twice a year, allowing spectators to enjoy the subtle and profound world of the noh art. Nada no Kenka Matsuri (Nada Fighting Festival) is the annual autumnal festival held in Matsubara Hachiman Shrine in Himeji on October 14 and 15. As part of the Shinto ritual, three Mikoshi (portable shrines carrying deities) are furiously crashed into one other, and seven gorgeous Yatai (ornate palanquins) from each region in the city are paraded around while repeatedly and violently colliding into one another.
Awaji Puppet Theater
Nada Fighting Festival
The Agency for Cultural Affairs of Japan recognizes tangible and intangible cultural properties and related “stories” that have served to pass down Japan’s culture and tradition as “Japan Heritage.”
Japan Heritages selected from Hyogo include the Dekansho-bushi folk song that has been sung since the Edo period (1603–1868) in Tamba-Sasayama, and Awaji Island’s recognition as Japan’s first island in the Kojiki, Japan’s oldest history record.
Dekansho-bushi was originally a folk song for the bon dance, but has transformed into a students’ song since the end of the 19th century and spread throughout Japan. Local people in Sasayama City have continued to pass down this traditional folk song to this day.
Awaji Island is recorded as the first island in the country to be created in the Japanese creation myth appearing in the first part of the Kojiki, Japan’s oldest existing written record of its history. Even today, Izanagi-jingu Shrine and Nushima Island (a small island off of Awaji Island) have been preserved as venues that convey the Japanese creation myth. As such, it was recognized as Japan Heritage in April 2016.
Art and Culture
In addition to the traditional Japanese culture, Hyogo also supports cultural activities in various styles, utilizing its deep association with world-famous artists from the fields of contemporary drama, classical music, and architecture.
Hyogo Prefectural Piccolo Theater Company is Japan’s first prefectural theater company established in 1994.It has given public performances in Seattle(the United States), Perth(Australia), and Moscow(Russia).Ryo Iwamatsu, Japan’s biggest playwright, stage director, and actor, leads the company at present.
Yutaka Sado, the Artistic Director of the Hyogo Prefectural Performing Arts Center, is a world-leading conductor who has served as a guest conductor for many major European orchestras.
The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art was designed by the architect Tadao Ando and opened in 2002. This museum’s attractions include, among others, a large collection of art by Jiro Yoshihara who led the Gutai group that existed from the 1950s to the 1970s, to which many young Kansai-based avant-garde artists belonged.
The Piccolo Theater Company
Hyogo Prefectural Museum