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Japan’s lion dances, and there are about 7,800 of them, all have their own style but the purpose is mainly the same. The shishi (lion) dances act as a prayer to ward off evil spirits.

The National Theater will host five sacred shishi performances from 1 p.m. and 4: 30 p.m. on Jan. 30. The dances are from Nagano, Hyogo, Kyoto, Gifu and Mie prefectures in the Chubu and Kinki regions of the country.

Seven-meter-long shishi from Nagano’s Oshimazan Ruriji Temple will be among those featured, and will end with a finale of flowers “blooming” on the shishi’s hips. Those flowers can bring good luck — if people can manage to grab them.

Also featured are daikagura (dance and acrobatics) from Mie’s Ise Shrine. Daikagura is a traditional form of entertainment that came from shrines. In the past, the Ise Shrine’s daikagura would visit the sick and infirm — those who could not visit the shrine itself — and pray for their safety and health. It also greatly influenced other regional folk performances.

The Attractive Lion Performance (Miryousuru Shishi no Gei) will be held on Jan. 30 at 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. at the National Theater in Tokyo. Tickets cost ¥3,600 (¥2,500 for students) and a set ticket for 1 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. costs ¥6,840. For further information, call National Theater Ticket Center (0570) 07-9900 or visit www.ntj.jac.go.jp/

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