KOBE--As a token of gratitude, a dance troupe from the faraway Tohoku region of northern Japan put on a special performance here of a traditional "Shishi-odori" deer ritual.
Without the help of residents across the Kansai region, including the port city of Kobe, the traditional folk entertainment appeared to be in danger of dying out in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture.
The dancers came from Ofunato, which was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami last year.
The Shishi-odori preservation group is based in the Sasazaki district of Ofunato, which was wiped out in the March 11, 2011, disaster.
The troupe lost all their costumes and props in the catastrophe, including deer antlers worn by the dancers as headpieces.
On learning of the troupe's plight, researchers and hunters in the Kansai region teamed up to help it out. They managed to come up with new sets of antlers for the dancers.
The June 10 performance was held in the Tetsujin-hiroba square, part of the Wakamatsu Park in Kobe's Nagata Ward that was hard hit by the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake.
Eight members of the Sasazaki preservation group performed rhythmic dance movements in front of a local landmark, a monument of Tetsujin 28-go, a popular manga character and the symbol of the square.
A crowd estimated to number 2,000 cheered and clapped their hands.
"Honestly speaking, we had thought we would not be able to perform Shishi-odori anymore as we had lost all our costumes, props and venues to stage the dance," said Naofumi Matsukawa, 33, a member of the preservation group.
"But the people of the Kansai region came to our rescue. We came to Kobe to express our gratitude to them from the bottom of our hearts."
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