Traditional Japanese dance developed in ancient times as a religious ceremony.
Traditional Japanese dance is divided into two different types.
Mai, which means revolving, in this dance you make your body move in a restricted way. This dance started when shrine maidens danced around the ceremonial site with twigs of bamboo and the sacred sakaki tree. This dance was supposed to bring tranquility to the land. Later this dance changed into the art of dancing while holding fans.
Odori, means jumping, was popular in the medieval times, but was started by the Jodo, a group in Buddhist religion. It consisted of a group of people, who often jumped to the rhythm of a bell while chanting a prayer. Today part of this dance can be seen in some folk dances.
Kabuki was originally classified as Odori, and it started in the early seventeenth century. At first it was performed by female dancers, soon the government forbade females to perform. Then it began being performed by young boys, this was forbidden; so adult males danced, but soon the government forbade this too. Today anyone can dance. Kabuki dancing is very popular and is taught at many schools.
Traditional Japanese dance was added to Japanese theater and music. Dance is very important to Japanese culture.