Exploring Hiroshima

Vol.04 Kaguramonzen Spa Village
Kaguramonzen Spa Village - The Home of Kagura

An Evening of Kagura

You’ll find the ultimate kagura experience north of Hiroshima City in the hills of Akitakata.

The ultimate kagura experience

“It all began with a chance discovery,” says Yasumasa Egusa, the deputy manager of general affairs at Kagura Monzen Spa Village. “When they tried to drill down to the water table, they discovered a spring. What started as a project to build a kagura museum turned into the village complex you see today.”

Tucked into the wooded hills of Akitakata north of Hiroshima City, the Kagura Monzen Spa Village is dedicated to ‘kagura’ - a traditional theatrical shinto dance popular in Hiroshima and western Japan. With its traditional Japanese style buildings, it is hard to imagine this site was purpose-built for kagura just 19 years ago.

Alongside the kagura museum, you’ll find a hot spring bath facility, a traditional ryokan hotel, restaurants, shops and an enormous domed theater for kagura performances.

Since its inception, the Kagura Monzen Spa Village has become a mecca for kagura fans throughout Japan. It attracts over 40,000 to 50,000 visitors a year to its kagura performances alone.

The kagura dome for Sunday performances

The kagura dome for Sunday performances

The main street through the spa village

The main street through the spa village

The traditional Japanese style ryokan in Kaguramonzen Spa Village

The traditional Japanese style ryokan in Kaguramonzen Spa Village

Shop for Japanese traditional toys etc.

Shop for Japanese traditional toys etc.

The kagura museum

The kagura museum

Akitakata - a region devoted to kagura

“Akitakata is at the heart of the Geihoku style of kagura in western Japan, famous for its rapid rhythms and drumming” says Egusa. “The mesmerizing performances draws guests from all over the country and some from abroad.”

In Akitakata, there are 22 kagura troupes who take it in turn to perform at the venue throughout the year. There are shows on Friday and Saturday evenings, two every Sunday lunchtime and extra performances on public holidays.

The audience is a mix of visitors from afar and locals who come to support their favorite troupe. The bond between the kagura troupe and the surrounding area is evident. Don’t be surprised if you hear shouts of encouragement and cheering from the audience.

There are performances throughout the year

There are performances throughout the year

22 kagura troupes from Akitakata take it in turn to perform

22 kagura troupes from Akitakata take it in turn to perform

After some performances, the audience can try on the costumes

After some performances, the audience can try on the costumes

Bathe, eat, shop, and relax in Kaguramonzen Spa Village

There’s plenty to keep you occupied before and after the performances. You can bathe in the rejuvenating waters of the hot spring. If you want a challenge, you should try the Yasha Udon - a spicy udon noodle dish only sold in the village. It has its own loyal fanbase who come just for the udon. On Sundays, you can paint and decorate your own kagura mask in a number of workshops.

To go to an evening performance, it is best to go by car, but Sunday performances are perfect for day trips with buses running to Akitakata from Hiroshima’s central bus station.

Kagura Monzen Spa Village provide a shuttle bus service going to and from the highway bus stop. So make the 60-minute journey from Hiroshima City and experience kagura in its tailor-made environment.

The hot spring

The hot spring

The spicy “Yasha” udon noodles

The spicy “Yasha” udon noodles

There are mask painting workshops on Sundays

There are mask painting workshops on Sundays

Related Links

Words & Photography by Tom Miyagawa Coulton (Visited in October 2017)

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