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Bon Dancing Travel 2000
August 16 "Niino Bon Dancing" #4
The high point in the first hours of morning
The mood began to change after around 5:00 AM at dawn when the light grew a little bit. The small dancing circle began to get bigger and bigger imperceptively.

Small children around the age of elementary school came in to the dancing circle rubbing their drowsy eyes led by their parents.
As the time passed, the dancing circle stretched out rapidly, and at last, a great number of people were dancing in the same circle all the way down the street. The number of people were so many that we couldn't tell where all these people came from.

Probably, all the people around the region gathered to take part in the climax of Bon that is held once a year.
When it passed around 6:00 AM, there was a movement in the dancing circle.
People who seemed to be the members of the Preservation Association began to gather. As the dancing circle turned around in a straightforward manner, the Kiriko Lanterns which were decorated on the dancing scaffold in the center were brought down one by one. The Kiriko Lanterns were drew up in two lines in the center of the street. A child of the age of elementary school are attending each lantern. It seems that it is the role for the children of the family of Niibon.
The sun rose, and it became brighter.
In the dancing circle, the caretakers of the Preservation Association lined up as if to protect in front and behind the row of the lanterns. Some people held a decoration that looked like the bamboo of the Star Festival. There was also a mountain ascetic in the head of the row.
The parade began to proceed when the children holding the lanterns got to their feet.


"Noto", the last dance
The parade went through the dancing circle and proceeded the street straight to the perch.
In course of time, the figure became smaller, turned the corner and disappeared from sight. It seems that a ceremony will be held somewhere where it can't be seen by other people. People holding cameras followed after them.
We wondered a little, but decided to stay at the place, since something might be held at the site.
The dance at the site changed to "Noto" which is the last dance.
"Noto" is a mysterious dance which is allowed to dance once a year only in the final hours of the Bon. It is a Teodori (Hand dance) which doesn't use the fans, and the gesture that they sometimes punch the air is impressive.

Noto e Noto e to kikusamo nabikuyo
Notowa kikusano hon-motoda

Even the plants and trees draw to the direction of Noto.
That is true, because Noto is a wonderful land that can be the home for even the plants and trees.

(From the lyrics of "Noto" of Niino Bon Dancing)
It is an easygoing dance song which is a little bit plaintive. From this moment, we felt that this is an event only for the local people, and the dance was very atmospheric.
I left the dancing circle and set up the camera. From here, finally we'd like to devote ourselves to the coverage of the mysterious event.
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