Shishimai festival – Sanuki Lions Scare Away the Demons

Takamatsu – one of the famous Shishimai kingdoms in Japan

Have you ever heard about the Lion Dance or  “Shishimai”?
Probably, since it’s a tradition that is popular all over Asia, originally coming from India and China.
In this performing art usually two, but often more people disguise as a lion and dance to the rhythm of drums. The costume includes a wooden, lacquered lion head and dyed cloth.
There are plenty different Shishimai styles all over Japan.
Takamatsu has a lot of local teams and they perform the Shishimai-lion dance at ritual festivals and events.

Shishimai on four legs

shishimai_danceThere are countless different Shishimai styles in Japan with differing structure, costume and music. The most popular style in Takamatsu is the one with 2 dancers, one performing as the lion head and one as the body.
In the past this tradition was to to exorcise demon and epidemics which is why it was always performed with focus on new year’s eve in Japan.
Nowadays it’s a tradition that has survived into the fast moving world of the new Japan.

Shishimai festival with over 50 teams

shishimai_over50The Shishimai Festival in Takamatsu was held in the central Chuo park but has moved to other locations around town due to its popularity.
Teams from all over Kagawa come to perform their own special type of dance here and see how other teams carry out theirs.
shishimai_participantsThanks to the local Shishimai teams and countless participants in recent years the festival is flourishing and expanding with more and more people attending it.


shishimai_clothThe dance looks incredible impressive with the dancers having amazing body control and knowing their every step in these long-running performances.
Every team has different colorful lion heads and bodies to show off their specific team. The rhythm of the drums and the dancing guarantee goose bumps.

shishimai_bitingSometimes the audience is involved in the dances as well.
Here you can see how a lion is “biting” a baby. This means that he will take out the bad demons out of the kid which is an omen of happiness.

Join the teams and let them bite out your demons!


Shishimai Festival