Tsunami Survivors to Perform Ancient Japanese Dance

The Shishi-Odori Dance Group Will Perform During the Japan-America Grassroots Summit

Aug. 31, 2012

The Shishi-Odori Dance Group

Shishi-Odori is a folk ritual performance in which dancers wear decorative deer heads with antlers.


The Shishi-Odori Dance Group – hailing from Minamisanriku, Japan, which was hit by a 52-foot tsunami in 2011 – will be performing at the Clark Center at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 1.

The dancers’ homes were destroyed, friends and family members lost. They were forced to live as refugees in neighboring cities, but the dance group members were determined to keep their dance alive.  For months following the tsunami they searched through piles of rubble for their equipment.  All of their drums were found, but several more months of work was required to restore the drums to a usable condition. Other Shishi-Odori groups in Thoku, Japan donated costumes and headgear, which allowed the group to resume performing. 

The group was selected to participate in the 2012 Japan-America Grassroots Summit with funding through the TOMODACHI Initiative and Japan Foundation. The summit is an annual gathering of Japanese and American citizens that aims to strengthen relations by fostering friendships at the grassroots level. The UT Dallas Asia Center will host Japanese delegates on campus during the summit.

Shishi-Odori is a folk ritual performance in which dancers wear decorative deer heads with antlers.  The basic form of Shishi-Odori involves eight dancers who beat small drums attached to their chests while singing dance songs.  Shishi-Odori can be found throughout Japan, but is most common in the Thoku region. 

The Minamisanriku group is now scattered to nearby towns including Tome, the sister city of Southlake, Texas.  Their group consists of seven young men who attend high school in Japan, whose ages range from 15 to 18.


Media Contact: Chaz Lilly, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, cll093020@utdallas.edu
or the Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, newscenter@utdallas.edu
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September 2, 2014