Maibara's hikiyama festival
started in the last half of the Edo period following Nagahama festival. The festival is organised by three street divisions, Kitamachi, Nakamachi, and Minamimachi. Schoolboys aged 6 to 12 years perform the boys' kabuki. The festival is dedicated to Yuya shrine, which served as a guardian deity for many powerful lords and daimyos, including Kyogoku family which was one of mighty warlords in the early Muromachi period and ruled over northern Shiga.
Hayashi, hikiyama music, is called shagiri in Maibara. A shagiri team consists of six to seven performers who play drums, scrubbing bells and flutes and each hikiyama has its own shagiri note.
Kabuki's origin lies in the songs and dances of an Izumo shrine priestess, Okuni. Four hundred years ago as a travelling theatre group, Okuni and her company performed erotic scenes and had women playing men's roles. The audience consisted of the lower classes as merchants, artists and farmers. After the show, the actors would be available for the spectators' pleasure at a small price. Because of prostitution, the troupe was banned in 1629.
Due to the popularity of same sex theatre, boys' Kabuki began to receive more followers. Since young and good looking boys performed themes of sexuality, they were subjected to numerous rules, such as cutting their forelocks and excluding singing and dancing. This resulted in Kabuki's development as drama. The theatre began presenting different plays, with more elaborately decorated costumes and rather plain, cubic settings, and even a draw curtain. The dramatic element, combined with the prohibition of women's participation, created the onnagata, a male playing the role of a female.