In olden times, folk dances formed an integral part of the lives of Japanese people, and are still performed during certain festivals. Each dance has a specific purpose: to revere a god or a spirit, to celebrate a good harvest, to pray for a good catch of fish or to exorcise evil spirits. Dances are performed in groups, at festivals and on special occasions. They use descriptive movements to convey a theme or story. Fans are used as props to show concepts such as a boat, a saki cup, a butterfly or a flower opening.
Soubugen, from Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, is a professional group with three performers who perform Japanese folk and dance music. One such dance is called sousaku nihonbuyou, a classical dance, with creative additions by the group. The concept of the dance is the passing of the seasons. It depicts the long cold days of winter; and the patience we need in waiting for spring. When spring comes the cherry trees will bloom and their beautiful blossoms will make us happy. Their musical piece is created by the shamisen, a traditional Japanese stringed-instrument like a guitar with percussion called narimono.
The group is comprised of Hisao Suginaka (shamisen), Saya Yuko (dance and minyou) and Naoka Yonai (narimono).