Japanese dance (日本舞踊)

Nihon Buyo is Japanese translation of Japanese dance and it is a generic term for dances in Japan.
Buyo is originally a coined word created by Shoyo TSUBOUCHI and Genichiro FUKUCHI by merging two terms referring to Japanese dances 'mai (a formal traditional Japanese dance)' and 'odori (dancing or dance).'
It has become a commonly used term after it was introduced in "Shin Gakugekiron" (New Musical Drama Theory) written by Shoyo in 1904. In recent years, as Japanese dance has gone international, the term Nihon Buyo is establishing itself in the Western countries and the Asian region.

What is Mai?

Mai ("まい", or "まひ" as written in old kana) refers to a performing art whereby dancers move around the stage while performing various choreographed movements including walking in suriashi (sliding steps) to the accompaniment of songs and music. Mai includes kagura (sacred music and dancing performed at shrines), bugaku (music accompanying traditional Japanese Court dances), shirabyoshi (popular music with dance in Heian and Kamakura Era), ennen (ennenmai or music with dance performed in temples mainly in Kamakura and Muromachi Era), kusemai (music and dance with a fan along with a tsuzumi or music and dance with a fan along with a Japanese hand drum), kowakamai (story-telling with a simple dance), Noh play (a Noh dance) and kamigatamai (a dance developed in Kyoto and Osaka).

What is Odori?

Odori ("おどり", or "をどり" as written in old kana) refers to a dance whereby dancers stamp their feet and moving their hands and bodies to the rhythm of the accompaniment song and music. It corresponds to nenbutsu-odori (a dance with a prayer (an invocation) to (the) Buddha) and Bon dancing (the Bon festival dance).

What is Nihon Buyo?

Of the following, 'Nihon Buyo' is generally referred to as the Kabuki buyo (Kabuki is a type of traditional Japanese drama which follows highly-stylized forms and takes up stories with popular appeal) and Kamigata Mai (a type of dance which was popular in the Kansai region in the mid to late Edo Period).

Mai performed at festivals of the people


Dengaku (a style of dancing and music originally performed at agricultural festivals)

Mai offered at a ritual performed at the Imperial Court

Gagaku (the court music of ancient Japan)


Performing arts in combination of singing and dancing

Sarugaku (a type of standup comic with an emphasis of impersonation and talks that was popular in the Heian Period)




Dramatized Mai


Mai performed in a Japanese-style room

Kamigata mai

Odori for popular entertainment

Nenbutsu odori

Bon odori

Dramatized odori

Kabuki buyo

Odori derived from Japanese martial arts

Bonote (a Japanese dance based on the forms of Japanese martial arts) and Kenbu (a sword dance)

Modern and contemporary buyo

Shin-buyo (new dancing or dances with original choreography) and Kayo-buyo (dances with original choreography performed to popular songs)

Schools of Nihon buyo

Approximately 200 schools exist today. Of these, the following are referred to as the 5 major schools.

The Hanayagi School

Founded by Jusuke HANAYAGI in 1849. Jusuke HANAYAGI studied under Senzo NISHIKAWA IV and played an important role as a choreographer of the Kabuki buyo. The Hanayagi school initially became popular as the buyo as a culture lesson for women and young girls from ordinary families but, thanks to its strong organizational skills, it has grown to the largest school (having approximately 15,000 accredited masters or persons having a diploma to teach buyo) in Japan. The present head of the school is the fourth generation.

The Fujima School

Founded by Kanbe FUJIMA in early 1700's. The school has branched into 2 families including the Kanjuro FUJIMA family of Kayaba-cho Town and the Kanemon FUJIMA family of Hama-cho Town. Kanemon FUJIMA III established the derivative Matsumoto school.

The Wakayagi School

Yoshimatsu HANAYAGI from the school of Jusuke HANAYAGI I assuming the new name of Yoshimatsu (subsequently Judo) WAKAYAGI founded the Wakayagi school in 1893. Since it developed in the pleasure quarters, it is a graceful form of buyo with intricate hand and arm movements.

The Nishikawa School

It began in the Genroku Era between the late 1600's and the beginning of 1700's and was established by Senzo NISHIKWA II. This school has a 300 year-history and the present head of the school is the 10th generation.

The Bando School

The head of the school is Mitsugoro BANDO III. Mitsugoro BANDO III is a son of the Mitsugoro BANDO I who was a brilliant dancer and a leading actress of the Kasei culture era.

[Original Japanese]