Warabi-za Theatrical Company
Japanese Folk Traditions
Much of Japanese folk performances originate in the work that people do in villages and towns. In the fields and rice paddies, on the ocean and in the mountains, the work that people did had a rhythm to it. As people worked together to this rhythm they would coordinate their movements, calling out in unison to give each other strength and encouragement and to reinforce the bonds of teamwork during work that was often hard, dangerous and exhausting.
In addition, Japanese folk performances tend to have numerous references to the beauty of the natural environment. Although the Japanese archipelago spans over a thousand miles north and south, the four seasons are clearly felt throughout the country. Japanese have always lived with these changing seasons and respected the elements of nature as gods, indicating the profound importance the people saw in them. The songs and dances of their communities are filled with this sense of respect and awe.
The festivals of Japan are centered on these forces of nature as they are honored in the special shrines of the national Shinto religion. Every region has its major festivals that are known throughout the country. However, in addition to these, there are countless minor festivals in which the local community prays for a good crop in the spring, gives thanks for good conditions in the summer, praises the harvest in the fall, and requests an early spring in the winter. These festivals offer an opportunity for the people in the community to reaffirm their deep ties to each other. It is how they acknowledge and express the importance of the community.
Warabiza considers this sense of community in the Japanese folk traditions the core strength of its work. As the connections between individuals become weaker in the increasingly urban and technology dependent world, Warabiza continues to offer a message of a fundamental human way of life in which real human emotions are expressed and trusted.