Art & Design

‘Dance tiger, dance ! Three years after the tsunami.’ An exhibition of photography and kakejiku (scroll paintings) on Toramai (tiger dance) from Iwate

13 - 19 March 2014, London

On 11th March 2011, a catastrophic tsunami shocked Japan and the World. It’s been three years and most of the affected areas have yet to be re-built. Life is tough, but those men have the hearts of TIGERS!

They lost everything...They almost lost hope. But they are re-born, stronger than ever. They never gave up. Through them we can learn how to be strong and powerful, even in the hardest of times.


This collaboration exhibition includes documentary photographs, videos of the tiger dance,installations of actual costumes and powerful tiger art on Japanese traditional hanging scrolls. By supporting the traditional folk performing arts in Otsuchi, Iwate prefecture, it will also encourage tourism in developing area.



Tora-mai ( tiger dance) :¡¡Around 830 years ago a landlord in the old Tohoku area ordered soldiers to dance in tiger costumes in order to raise their morale. It later developed in the Tora-mai; a creative dance with tiger costumes together with the musical instruments. Back then, it was very dangerous to sail and fishermen and their family would pray for their safe return. It was then believed that tigers traveled very long distances in a single day and return (4000km one way, 4000km return). So the To-ramai began to spread amongst local fishermen as a prayer for their safe journey. It is also believed that tigers had a special power to prevent or extinguish fires. Seaside area of Tohoku suffered from many fires, mostly due to earthquakes, so the Toramai was performed as a fire prevention ritual.


Mayumi Hirata is a portrait and documentary photographer, Born in Osaka, Japan, she lives and works in London, Mayumi recently published a book of her photographs “Dance tiger, dance!”.


Horriren First is an artist based in Japan. She is recognised internationally and her work has been exhibited throughout the World. Following the Tsunami she has donated many of her works to shrines in the Tohoku region.


Admission Free

13 - 19 March 2014

5th Base Gallery, 24 Heneage St. E1 5LJ

Photographer Mayumi Hirata and aritist Horiren First