This is a participatory community project realized in the Yamada district of Odate, Akita, taking as its motif the 400 year old tradition, passed down through generations, the Yamada Lion Dance. Through the collaborative process between Odate citizens, businesses and governing bodies, the different cultural backgrounds between generations and communities are visualized and lead to a re-examination of the cultural value which exists in Odate. The work presented in this project was exhibited on the site of a former shoe store named “Kyodosha”(cooperative company), and in reusing this space took as its theme the notion that “passing on traditions = cooperation”. The importance of such cooperation is highlighted by the difficulties which local people have encountered in the handing down of some of their traditions – in particular the difficulty in finding a successor for the important role of the Lions Head in the Lion Dance, which led to the performance being suspended last year, but fortunately has now been revived again.
Taking the motif of the Lion’s head, a series of workshops were held for children throughout Odate in which they were encouraged to make their own masks/costumes inspired by this tradition. The documentation taken of the children wearing their finished articles was presented as an exhibition of photography and video. A documentary film was also made through a series of interviews with local people involved in the Yamada Lion Dance, detailing their relationship to this cultural tradition, from its suspension last year to its current condition. With the support of a local sake brewery, and the collaborative efforts of local crafts people, “Katarai Theatre” (talking theatre) was created as a space from which to appreciate this moving image within the exhibition.