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  • Japanese: 伎楽 (gigaku)

Gigaku was a style of dance-drama which was particularly prominent in the imperial court in the 7th century.

It was introduced into Japan sometime in the 7th century; according to some accounts, this took place in 612, introduced by a man from Paekche named Mimashi.

The plot and lines of gigaku plays have all been lost, but a number of masks survive and fourteen distinct characters have been identified, including Chinese nobles, Buddhist beings, and the eagle-headed garuda.

Masks were traditionally held at Tôdai-ji, Hôryû-ji, Kawara-dera, and Saidai-ji. Nineteen masks historically held at Hôryû-ji, including some of the oldest surviving masks in the world, are today held at the Tokyo National Museum.

Though an extremely prominent part of court ritual and entertainments in the 7th century, gigaku became displaced by bugaku in the 8th century.


  • Gallery labels, "Izumo and Yamato," special exhibition, Tokyo National Museum, Feb 2020.