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Several men perform shishi-mai (lion dance) in the courtyard of a shrine. The performers would also dance in front of the homes of the parishioners as a charm against evil spirits and disease, and to pray for good fortune. Shishi-mai probably entered Japan around the 8th century after Japanese diplomats and priests encountered them in China. They are still performed today and it is believed that some 9,000 different variations of shishi-mai exist. This image is part of The New Year in Japan, a book published by Kobe-based photographer Kozaburo Tamamura in 1906. Original text:
To the accompaniment of a flute and a drum, the “lion dance,” is being given; but the “lion” is a two-legged one, somewhat weaker than the “King of the forest.”1
See all New Year images on Old Photos of Japan.
In this interesting clip the lion hands out tangerines using its mouth
1 Tamamura, Kozaburo (1906). The New Year in Japan. Tamamura Shashinkan.