Fujishima Shishi Odori: Fujishima’s Lion Dance 藤島獅子踊り

The detailed history of the Shishi Dance was unfortunately lost in a fire long ago. According to oral tradition, the festival originally served as a ritual for a shrine in Soikawa village, which no longer exists. The shrine was rebuilt in 1681 as Ryôsho Shrine in Yamagata City.

The first Ryôsho Shrine is estimated to have been constructed around 700 years ago during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). A Lieutenant named Umezu 梅津中将 was dispatched by the authorities to oversee Mt. Haguro. Umezu built a castle in Soikawa during his administration, and in the castle’s shrine, he enshrined the gods of Mt. Chokai (Ômonohime no ôkami 大物忌大神) and Mt. Gassan (Gassan no ôkami 月山大神). This shrine eventually became Ryôsho Shrine 両所神社. However, military revolts during the Tenshô era (late 16th century) forced Umezu to abandon the castle, leading to the cessation of religious activities at Ryôsho Shrine and the discontinuation of the festival.

In homage to the original location of the festivities, the people of Soikawa continue to organize the same festival on the banks of the Soikawa River every year on August 18th.

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