Ebisu-mai

Ebisu-mai

Ebisu-mai

Background

Today, the god Ebisu is widely accepted as the deity of prosperity in business, but was originally a god of the ocean. From ancient times, people in coastal areas have enjoyed viewing plays or skits at the seaside during festive occasion. At these times, Ebisu-mai (Ebisu-puppet dance) was usually performed in-between the plays. The Ebisu god lists the names of fish, which the fishermen expect to catch. The Ebisu-mai is a good example of an old form of puppet play in which a puppet is regarded as an incarnation of a god. The dance is accompanied not by a shamisen (three-stringed lute) as is usual in a puppet play, but by a taiko drum.

Synopsis

The god Ebisu, carrying a fishing rod, comes to Awaji Ningyo-za theater. The village headman offers him omiki sacred rice wine. When he drinks it up, he starts to dance and tells the story of his birth as deity of good fortune. In front of products of the sea and land, he drinks wine and respond to people’s wishes by bringing them good luck. Relatively drunk, he gets into a boat, goes out to sea, catches a big sea bream, and dances for joy. The human fundamental desire for good and positive life, always keeping a broad mind and smile, is expressed in the dance.