What is The Dance of the Fire God aka Hinokami Kagura and what connection does it have to Demon Slayer’s Tanjiro Kamado and his family?
In the Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba manga, there’s more than one way to slay a Demon. Throughout history, famous Demon Slayers developed unique methods or Breathing Styles in order to fight the overwhelming threat of supernatural demons murdering or possessing innocents, which often included their family or fellow Slayers. One such Slayer is Tanjiro Kamado, who became a Demon Slayer to find the entity responsible for killing his family and turning his sister Nezuko into a Demon. One advantage that Tanjiro has over other Demon Slayers is the Hinokami Kagura, which translates into the Dance of the Fire God. It’s one of the earliest and most powerful Breathing Styles ever created which has been secretly passed down through his family for generations.
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According to the Demon Slayer manga, The Hinokami Kagura was originally called Sun Breathing, a swordsmanship style used by one of the first Demon Slayers, Yoriichi Tsugkuni. Sun Breathing served as the basis for six other Breathing Styles whose creators based on iconic forces of nature such as Water, Flame, Wind, Thunder, Stone, and Moon Breathing. It was originally thought to have been forgotten since all of the swordsmen who knew or practiced it had been killed by possessed Demon Slayers, most likely to prevent it from being passed down to future generations. The Sun Breathing ritual was a twelve-part dance from sunset to sunrise which is to be constantly repeated throughout the night, with the original intent to ward off diseases or later, to fight Demons.
Tanjiro did not realize that his family’s Hinokami Kagura and Sun Breathing were the same until he was able to access the memories of his ancestor Sumiyoshi Kamado. In those memories, Sumiyoshi’s wife Suyako requested Yorrichi to perform the Sun Breathing ritual during his last visit with their family. Yorriichi complied and Sumiyoshi not only committed his famous guest’s movements to memory but was also gifted a pair of hanafuda, a style of Japanese playing cards, earrings by Yoriichi before departing. The earrings and Breathing Style were passed down from father to son throughout the Kamado bloodline as a rite of passage. All twelve steps of the Hinokami Kagura also help to increase its user’s strength and endurance, with the constant repetition enabling its practitioners to unlock a thirteenth form which can also increase the user’s accuracy and agility.
The re-labeling of Sun Breathing as Hinokami Kagura also draws inspiration from Japanese mythology. According to legend, the goddess of the sun Amaterasu once plunged the world into darkness by retreating into a cave. The goddess of revelry and dawn Ame-no-Uzume was successful at coaxing Amaterasu out by dancing outside of the cave for hours. With the world saved, the Kagura was created to be a ritualistic dance that honors both the gods and the spirits of beloved ancestors. The name change was most likely a move by the Kamado’s to protect the knowledge as well as their family from the attention of powerful Demons, its true nature kept a secret or forgotten as time moved on.
Sun Breathing’s survival beyond its deceased practitioners is thanks to the Kamado family who rebranded it as a Kagura which was taught and passed down for countless years. Taught to Tanjiro by his late father Tanjuro, the complex rituals moves have proven useful against some of the young Demon Slayer’s sinister and powerful foes. Although Tanjiro is one of the last living Kamado’s, the possibility of him teaching it to others outside of his family suggests that the Dance of the Fire God may continue to live, much to the chagrin of Demons everywhere.
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