2006 Volume 4 Issue Special_Issue_2006 Pages 187-197
Focusing on the Kanto Skill Contest in Akita, this study intends to clarify the process of making the Kanto performance a competitive event and discuss how this traditional event has changed during the process. The Kanto-kai (Kanto Society) was founded in 1931 with the aim of improving skill in the Kanto performance. In the same year, the annual Myogi-kai (Kanto Skill Contest) started. At first, there were no established scoring rules for the contest, and scoring for Kanto performances depended mainly on the subjective judgment of the contest judges. Eventually, as the Kanto gradually became known throughout Japan to the extent that Kanto Festival came to attract tourists from not only Akita but also various other prefectures, scoring rules were established. In 1980, the Kanto event was designated as a national important intangible folk cultural heritage. This led to an expansion of the scale of the contest and created a gap between people's understanding of the Kanto as a representative folk event in Japan and then the state of the Kanto which was in the process of transforming into a competitive event. As long as the Kanto remains competitive, its traditional aspect may figure less prominently than it has in the past. Through an examination of their policies, this study has revealed how the Kanto Society has dealt with such problems in order to maintain the Kanto tradition.