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Dengaku (田楽)

Dengaku, or “field drama” comes from when hayashi or songs were performed during the planting of fields in ancient times. It used to be a ritual performed by the common people to pray to the gods of the field for a rich harvest and developed into an art form by the middle half of the Heian era. Also from the Kamakura era through the Muromachi era, dengaku odori, or “dengaku dance” was popular as a performance art to dedicate shrines and temples, and this was also known as dengaku. Dengaku odori is a vibrant instrumental dance, in which both sangaku acrobatics coming from China in the Nara era and comedic arts are performed, and there are thought to have been many different plays. Through the middle part of the Kamakura era, dengaku and sarugaku were deeply related and competed in performing Noh, with both having a great effect on the other. From the second half of the Muromachi era, dengaku went into decline with the flourishing of Japanese sarugaku, but still exists today as a folk art.

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