Thursday, September 30, 2010

Who is this Uzume chick anyway?

Ame-no-Uzume-no-Mikoto, the "Terrible Female of Heaven", is just about the best Shinto kami (somewhere between 'god' and 'spirit') out there. She is responsible for several awesome things, namely:
  • performing either (a) a comedic dance and/or (b) a striptease that lured the sun goddess out of the cave that she had shut herself away in, thereby bringing sunlight back into the world. She's the sort of goddess who takes matters into her own hands.
  • going forth alone, with bared breast, to meet a gigantic demon who was (ostensibly) sent to kill/maim/block the ancestor of the royal family.
  • shaping the mouth of the sea slug.
Beyond mythology, her dance that lured Amaterasu-omikami out of her cave is still celebrated today, in the form of kasuga dances performed at pretty much every Shinto shrine in Japan.

The kasuga is what, long ago, allowed Okuni to dance in her strange, self-expressive way, and begin the performance craze called "kabuki"-- which, in turn, led to the banning of all women from Japan's public stages, and created a culture of brave women who performed even while faced with the possibility of legal retribution for doing so.

Kabuki, on the other hand, became an all-male performance art. Over time, scandals began to arise regarding relations between the performers, and kabuki gained a sort of lurid air. This sort of sensual environment was what the creator of the Takarazuka theatre was trying to avoid, and he thusly created the all-female theatrical company that is incredibly awesome and generates nearly maniacal fan interest- no, obsession- even today.

So, that's me, or at least who I take inspiration from. The goddess of dawn, dance, and stripping in the name of comedy. Rock on.

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