Itozaki no Hotokemai (Buddha Dance) is performed on April 18th every other year (odd-numbered years in the Western calendar) on a stone stage constructed in front of Kannon Hall at Itosaki Temple. The dance is performed to drums and bells by three dancers. One dancer, the Maihotoke, wears a black vestment and golden Buddha mask. Another dancer, the Nen-bosatsu, is a bodhisattva wearing a blue vestment and gold mask. The last dancer, Kadomamori, wears a white vestment and white mask.
According to history, this dance is said to have originated in the Tempyo-shoho Era (749–759) when a Chinese Zen Buddhist priest offered a statue of the Thousand-armed Kannon to the shrine, which resembled the picturesque scenery of Mt. Yuwang in his own country. Then, a multitude of Kannon gathered at the shrine and danced.
This serene dance brings to mind the graceful form of bodhisattva.