“The Sendai Suzume Odori is said to have begun some 400 years ago, with stonemasons brought from Osaka to work for the recently arrived warlord Masamune Date. The dancers were said to look like sparrows pecking at the ground, and since the Date clan crest pictured sparrows inside a circle of bamboo, the movements became known as the ‘sparrow dance’. In recent years the dance has spread from descendants of the masons to the general public, who have formed into many dance groups known as ‘mazura’.
Performed in May at the Aoba Festival and at other such events, the different groups and their ‘hayashi’ bands compete in choreography and sound, and the festival grows larger by the year.
Enhanced by brightly colored fans held in each hand, the birdlike motions of this dance make the event a highlight of the festival season.”