Japans traditional dance: The Nihon-buyou (日本舞踊). Even most of those that are Japanese may not know about it. In this article, the basic information about the Nihon-buyou will be introduced.

Lets learn about the Nihon-buyou together!

What Is The “Nihon-buyou”(日本舞踊)?


The traditional Japanese dance, the Nihon-buyou, is a mixture of two traditional dances, the Mai (舞) and the Odori (踊).

Dancing softly and quietly in combination to sounds or music, it is supposed to be a show of expression.

However when danced, there is speed and a power that can be felt that is said to be in-between that of Noh () and Kabuki (歌舞伎).

There Are Many Different Styles!?

Currently, Nihon-buyou has over 200 different styles. Among them, the

  • Hanayanagi Style (花柳流)
  • Fujima Style (藤間流)
  • Wakayanagi Style (若柳流)
  • Nishikawa Style (西川流)
  • Bandou Style (坂東流)

are the styles called the “Five Big Styles”.

Hanayanagi Style

Jusuke Hanayanagi (花柳壽輔) created it in 1849. At the time, it was normal for only women to take lessons, but now there are about 15000 people affiliated to this style.

Fujima Style

Kanbe Fujima (藤間勘兵衛) created it during 1704 to 1710.  Not long after did the Matsumoto style derive from the Fujima style.

Wakayanagi Style

Yoshimatsu Hanayagi (花柳芳松), who came from Jusuke Hanayagis style, changed his name to Judou Wakayanagi (若柳壽童) and created the Wakayanagi style in 1893. It is famous for its elegant dances.

Nishikawa Style

Senzou Nishikawa created it during 1688 to 1704. It is famous for being the root of many other styles and for having a very story driven characteristic.

Bandou Style

Mitsugorou Bandou, who was a Kabuki actor, created it during 1804 to 1830. It has a strong kabuki characteristic to it with many of the dances being like a play.

Lets Go Through Its History

  • 400 years ago, it is said that the Nenbutsu odori (念仏踊り) that shrine maiden was where it originated, with a women named Izumo-no-okuni (出雲の阿国) at the center of it.
  • From 1688 did Kabuki start to develop. This is when Kabuki actors and acting houses took in apprentices and unique features started to appear, which sparked the birth of Nihon-buyou. Unlike Kabuki, Nihon-buyou was mainly danced by women.

Lets Look At The Current Nihon-buyou

As time passes, Nihon-buyou evolves with it.

Now, western music such as Jazz and Classic music have combined with Nihon-buyou making it enjoyable for foreigners as well.


As Kimonos are an aspiration to foreigners, more attention is being shifted towards「Nihombuyo」.



How was this learning experience?

The Nihon-buyou, whilst keeping with tradition, it is ever evolving.

A traditional art that is becoming something far off to Japanese people is now getting attention foreigners!

Please, shift your eyes towards Japans traditional arts.

There may be new discoveries yet.