#TBT: In 1971, Japanese Performers Brings Ancient Shinto Masked Dances to the United States


Ancient Shinto masked dances of the Edo Festival Troupe, Tokyo, marked the resumption of Asia Society's Performing Arts Program in 1971. (Asia Society)

In 1971, Asia Society renewed its Performing Arts Program under a generous gift from philanthropist Lila Acheson Wallace, with a goal to enable “a wide-ranging representation of the rich, ancient traditions of Asia’s performing arts.”

One of the first visitors commissioned by the program was the Edo Festival Music and Pantomime Group from Tokyo, hailed in Japan as “custodians and exponents of ancient Shinto traditions in masked dance and ritual music.” The group performed and gave lecture-demonstrations on 30 campuses across the United States, and also exhibited costumes, masks, and instruments associated with both comic and serious episodes in old Shinto ritual.

Each week for "Throwback Thursday" (#TBT), we'll reach into our archives to find a photo from the organization's nearly 60-year history. Some photos will feature important moments, some will feature important people, and others still will just be photos we love. Do you have an Asia Society photo you'd like us to consider including in this series? Please email the photo and any related details to photos@theasiablog.org (we regret that we won't be able to respond directly to each inquiry).

About the Author

Profile picture for user Tim Lau
Tim Lau is a Content Producer at Asia Society. He is a New Jersey native and has also lived in Greater Chicago and Washington, DC.