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Okinamai (翁舞)

The Shinto rituals and plays of prayer, Shiki Sanban (Okina), that must be included in a Noh play. They are broadly divided into the appearance of the actors, the tsuyuharai or opening dance (Senzainomai), words or dances of happiness by the white Okina, the dance to prepare the ground, words or dances of happiness by the black (Sanbasō), and in the past Chichinojō and Enmeikaja were added. Strictly speaking Okinamai is the dance of the white Okina, and broadly speaking Shiki Sanban is a general term. They are mainly played during the new year or for celebrations in prayer for the safety of the nation or a bountiful harvest. There are many differences from regular Noh and kyōgen, and as they are Shinto rituals, the actors go through a period of purifying abstention and fasting before performing them. There are forms of Okinamai believed to have been performed at Shinto shrines before the development of Noh, and the Okinamai performed at Narazuhiko Shrine and Kuruma Otoshi Shrine are designated as important intangible cultural treasures.

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