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Demonstrations & Performances

Cultural Performance and Lecture: Edo Kotobuki Jishi

Shishimai traditional Japanese lion dance and a group of people dressed in japanese costumes performing on stage
Shishimai features a dancer dressed as a lion accompanied by musicians playing shinobue, taiko, and atarigane.

Shishimai is the traditional Japanese lion dance, and Edo Kotobuki Jishi is the celebratory shishimai of Tokyo. Come see a performance by Portland Shishimai Kai followed by a lecture by the group’s founder, Eien Hunter-Ishikawa, from 1:15-2:15pm in the Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center.

Throughout Japan, shishimai has been used for hundreds of years to bring good luck and chase away evil spirits. During this performance, the shishi will go into the audience and gently bite people’s heads to offer good luck for the rest of the year. It is common in Japan to see audiences waving bills of money to attract the shishi to come in their direction. Shishimai is typically performed during New Year’s celebrations, weddings, company functions, parties, and other festive occasions. After the performance, Eien will discuss the details of this fascinating art form such as its historical roots, how it’s taught, the costume parts, the musical accompaniment, and much more.

A man in a green and white jacket holding a golden lion head for the Shishimai traditional Japanese lion dance
Eien Hunter-Ishikawa holds his lion mask, known as a shishigashira.

Portland Shishimai Kai is a group dedicated to performing and teaching the traditional celebratory lion dance of Tokyo, the Edo Kotobuki Jishi. The group also performs Edo Bayashi (traditional festival music of Tokyo) and the Ryomen Odori (double-masked dance). Under the close mentorship of Kyosuke Suzuki of Wakayama Shachu, we aim to preserve its history and culture by offering good luck to businesses, organizations, and anyone who celebrates in the presence of the shishi. Membership to the Portland Shishimai Kai is open to anyone interested in helping to introduce and deepen appreciation of this art form to a wider audience.

Eien Hunter-Ishikawa is a musician based in Portland, Oregon and is the founder of Portland Shishimai Kai. Eien started learning Edo Kotobuki Jishi in 2001 under the instruction of Kenny Endo, continuing on to study with Kyosuke Suzuki, a longtime member of Wakayama Shachu (Nationally Designated Important Intangible Cultural Asset of Folk Arts). Since 2011, Eien has coordinated Suzuki sensei’s United States performance and teaching tours, providing translation and organizational assistance. He has been granted approval to teach all four parts (mai, taiko, shinobue, atarigane) of Wakayama Ryu Edo Bayashi, Ryomen Odori, and Kotobuki Jishi.


Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center

The Jordan Schnitzer Japanese Arts Learning Center was designed to be the cultural, educational, and architectural hub of the new Cultural Village. “With a new classroom, library, and performance space, the Learning Center provides an open and welcoming space where visitors can learn more about the culture that gave us the Japanese garden art form,”