A stage like this, a kaguraden, can be found only in the most important, large and old Shinto shrines. They are used for kagura dances, a type of Shinto rituals performed by shrine maidens (miko). The kaguraden stages first appeared at the end of the Heian period and for a while they were very popular, but today the shrines without a dedicated structure are usually performing kagura in the main hall.
The architecture of kaguraden was inspired by the stages of the ancient Japanese court dances (bugaku). The stage is usually square, completely open, without walls and surrounded only by balustrades, but there are also versions similar to the Noh stages, decorated with a pine motif (like the Nogakudo from Yasukuni Shrine).
The most beautiful kaguraden I visited until today was the one from the Yasaka Shrine from Kyoto, decorated with hundreds of paper lanterns, each inscribed with the name of the donor…
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: