A recent story on National Public Radio told the story of the kabuki festival of Damine, Japan. For over three centuries this small mountain village has had an unbroken yearly tradition of having their children perform to please the mountain gods.
“Legend has it that hundreds of years ago, the mountain village was jeopardized when someone accidentally chopped down one of the shogun’s trees,” says Hina Takeshita, the 12-year-old star of the closing kabuki play [of the festival].
As news spread that the shogun, a feudal commander, was coming to investigate, the villagers prayed to the gods. They promised to perform kabuki every year if the goddess of mercy could make it snow. A rare June blizzard arrived, thwarting the visit by the shogun’s samurai and saving the village from punishment.
“So we’ve been playing kabuki ever since then,” Hina says.
You can read more about Damine’s festival in this article from National Public Radio. It’s mostly about the growing hardship of staging the festival as the village population shrinks because so many people have migrated to the cities. There are only 10 children left between the ages of 6 and 12.
Here’s a video of one of their performances:
Mirrored from Better Than Dead.