Shibu is a dance performed to a sung Japanese poem using one or two fans or, in some advanced dances, a fan and various other props. The movements of shibu are soft and graceful, so whilst dances share many similar movements to those of kenbu, their interpretation and presentation is strikingly different.

Shibu was born during the American occupation of Japan after World War II when the practice of martial arts, including the sword dance, was banned. Now it has developed as a separate art form with new dances being created continually.

The chanting of poems which forms the background story to all kenbu and shibu is a skilled art in and of itself, call shigin. The singer (gindoka) voices the words in a long, drawn-out chanting style to the accompaniment of flute and koto. As with kenbu and shibu there are many schools (ryu). We train & perform to music recorded by professional Japanese gindoka associated to the Hayabuchi school.

Shibu is usually performed wearing a hakama – the long culottes of the samurai – to reflect its origins in the martial sword dances.