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Tsuru-no-Mai: The Crane Dance in Kushiro City, Hokkaido, and Its Cultural Significance


Tsuru-no-Mai, or the crane dance, is a traditional Japanese dance that is performed in various parts of Hokkaido, Japan. One of its most popular locations is Kushiro City, where it is held annually in February. The dance has a special significance in Japanese culture, particularly in relation to the crane bird, which is considered a symbol of longevity and good luck.

Origins of the Dance

The Tsuru-no-Mai originated in the eastern part of Hokkaido centuries ago, where it was practiced by the indigenous Ainu people as a way to honor the endangered Japanese crane. In Japanese mythology, the crane is said to live for a thousand years and is associated with longevity and good fortune. As a result, the crane dance became an important part of Ainu culture and was eventually adopted by the Japanese people as well.

The Dance

The Tsuru-no-Mai is performed by a group of dancers, typically dressed in traditional Ainu garments or colorful kimono. The dance movements are inspired by the graceful movements of the crane, with performers using their arms and legs to mimic the bird’s motions. The music that accompanies the dance is typically performed by traditional Japanese instruments such as the shamisen and taiko drums.

Importance in Japanese Culture

The crane is an important symbol in Japanese culture, representing longevity and good luck. The Tsuru-no-Mai dance is one way in which the bird is celebrated, and the dance is often performed during special occasions and ceremonies, such as weddings and festivals. The dance is also seen as a way to promote and preserve Ainu culture, which has been historically marginalized in Japan.


The Tsuru-no-Mai dance is a beautiful and important part of Japanese culture, with roots that reach back centuries. Its significance to the Ainu people and the Japanese people as a whole is a testament to the enduring cultural traditions of the country. If you ever have the opportunity to witness the dance in person, take it – it’s an experience you won’t soon forget!
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