The purpose of this research is to explain the structure of the physical movements of the traditional dance “Hotoke-mai” in Japan, where the Buddha appears. I also examine the dramatics and stage effects with the idea of Raigo, where Bodhisattvas appear and lead the people into the paradise.
I have analyzed Hotoke-mai by watching the movements on video, researching many dancing books, guidance documents and the support base of festivals. I chose to study the dance in the following temples and a shrine : Matsunoo temple in Maizuru city, Kyoto Prefecture, Itosaki temple in Fukui city, Fukui Prefecture and Oguni shrine in Mori town, Syuchi-gun, Shizuoka Prefecture.
I have analyzed their movements from the following viewpoints. I. Moving sequences, poses and patterns during the routine. 2. The percentages of movements and poses. 3. The line of physical movements on the moving sequences. 4. The formation of the dancer's hands. 5. The formation changes of all the dancers. 6. The dynamics of the music frequencies and the movements.
The results of the three Hotoke-mai studied are as follows.
As for the festival of Matsunoo, which celebrates the birth of Shaka-Nyorai-identical with the Buddha-, the key word concerned with “death” is extracted. They make hand formations that means, Amida-Nyorai-who preaches the teachings-leading into the paradise. As for the change where 6 dancers point in 8 different directions, it suggest the symbol of 8 leafs Mandala with Dainichi-Nyorai-who preaches the truth through all creation-staying in the center. In other words, Buddhas who appeared for Hotoke-mai are the embodiment of the doctrine.
In Itosaki, there is an old legend. People found a sculpture of the thousand armed Kannon in the sea, and it was niched in the temple. Then, some Bodhisa ttvas-identical to Buddhas who seek to save all living beings-and celestial maidens appeared and danced in the sky. The bounding steps of the dance and the formation that slowly turns clockwise, express floatingness in the sky. It expresses the force running through the sky and the joy of the 8 dancers that are gathered in the center.
Hotoke-mai of Oguni is one of 12 Bugaku in the shrine festival. The first half are the sacred dances of “God's children”, the latter half are the civil dances of the adult men. Hotoke-mai is one of the sacred dances. It includes, the poses that are metaphors of sex organs, the movements that point at the heaven and earth, the formation of the left turn, the going straight and returning back to the formation, and the gold and silver disk adornments.
The structures that are common to the three Hotoke-mai are the following points.
The dancers do some movements that expression the Buddha's World. They express the Buddha's symbolic figures with their hands and the sacred centripetal force with their formation. And, it shows the audience the ways in which dancers walk into the stage from the dressing room, that is known as the religious action of “Gyo-do”.
Performing the above, a scene of “Buddhas appear on the stage, they dance and then leave”. This is the same as the belief of Raigo, where various Buddhas go to and from the paradise and the human world. I consider the above the productions an extraordinary encounter of Buddhas and humans by portrayed by dancers, where by human bodies are a medium to setup the stage for an amazing festival.