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Photo Journal: Long-standing tradition

(Mainichi/Alina Kordesch)

A troupe practices the "Nesaki Hashigo Toramai" ladder tiger dance for an upcoming festival held once every four years at Kurosaki Shrine, on Sept. 29, 2018 in the Hirotacho district of Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, in northeastern Japan. According to legend, as a god was trying to head with attendants to Izumo Province, a tiger blocked their path. One member was able to lead the animal up a cliff by dancing to a beat, allowing the deity and their companions to reach their destination safely. The scene is recreated with a 20-meter-tall ladder with rails made of single cedar trees positioned at an angle. The dancers move along with the sway of the long ladder to the sound of small and large taiko drums and flutes played by local elementary school students. The ladder was replaced recently after some 50 years of use, when it became too dry to bend properly. When making a new ladder, there are generally only two to three trees in the area tall enough to be used. The giant ladder is kept in storage between festivals, and all the households in the area work together to transport it. This year, festivities will be held at Nesaki fishing port on Oct. 7 from 10:30 a.m. (By Alina Kordesch, The Mainichi staff writer)

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