Daikagura training ‘was like studying abroad’ Part 1

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. be rooted in (something) / bi ˈru tɪd ɪn / (idiom) – be created or developed based on something

    The author’s novels are rooted in Chinese legends. That’s why her books became popular in China.

  2. get (something) / gɛt / (idiom) – to understand

    I don’t get the joke.

  3. befriend / bɪˈfrɛnd / (v.) – to become friends with someone

    A foreign student befriended me back in college.

  4. novelty / ˈnɒv əl ti / (n.) – something new or unusual

    Self-driving cars are still a novelty in many countries.

  5. enthralled / ɛnˈθrɔld / (adj.) – amazed; filled with wonder or delight

    The girl was so enthralled when she watched the circus performers.


Read the text below.

Michiyo Kagami is an English-speaking daikagura performer who also gives lectures on the traditional performing art.

“So much of daikagura is rooted in traditional Japanese culture. The art goes back 1,300 years. I’m always pondering how best to explain concepts like medetai and goen to non-Japanese audiences.”

She talks about the time she explained to a French audience that daikagura is about “praying for your (the audience’s) happiness through the performances.”

“One of them later told me they didn’t get it because for them, praying is a religious act and usually done in a church.”

Kagami encountered English at a young age, when she befriended a girl in her neighborhood whose mother was American.

“This girl was home-schooled, with textbooks being sent from the U.S. She taught me some conversational English and gave Halloween parties, which in those days was a novelty. I was so enthralled.”

Kagami’s strong interest in the world outside Japan continued.

“In my teens, I wanted to work overseas and marry a foreigner,” she says, laughing. (Kaori Shoji)

To be continued…

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Daikagura is rooted in traditional Japanese culture. Do you think it’s possible for a foreigner to fully understand it? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • If you had the opportunity to introduce any part of your culture to foreigners, what would you introduce and why? How would you explain it to them? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • Kagami says that Halloween parties used to be a novelty in Japan. However, now they’re much more common. What overseas traditions have become more common in your country within your lifetime? How do you feel about foreign practices becoming more common in your country? Why? Discuss.
  • How would you feel if people in other countries started practicing some of your traditions? Why? Discuss.