To talk about belly dancing in Japan, we have to first meet the history of belly dancing.
Japan is not the first country in the word to have belly dancers in. In fact, when you combine the words ‘belly dancing Japan’ people look at you as if you were totally mad. In fact the phrase ‘belly dancing Japan’ has a lot of sense because there are really good belly dancers in Japan, so to speak. But let’s see where and when belly dancing originally comes from.
Belly dance comes from Arabia in Asia. In Arabic (raks al-baladi) it means dance of the people. It is an art form with a long history. The origins of Bellydancing can be traced back some 5,000 years. Belly dancing was originally for women only. No men were allowed to participate or to watch the dance. It was for women and only for women. It helped women in childbirth, as the intense undulations helped to more or less remove birth pains. Later still, belly dance moved to the harem of sultans.
There, beautiful ladies danced for the pleasure of the sultan (Arabic king) and his bezyrs( Arabic ministers). When there were diplomatic guests from China and Later (During Osman’s empire) from Japan, coming to sultan’s palace, they had to watch and finally they started to love the dance. That’s how, firstly by vague, unsure descriptions, ‘belly dancing Japan’ started to make a little more sense. But it was really hard to make it just from being a spectator. The girls, even, in Japan were considered as ‘exotic dancers’ which is not true nowadays anymore.
Why were they considered ‘exotic dancers’?
Because opium in Japan was very very popular. It was very probable, when in Japan, when a visitor wanted to try their opium, it was served by a beautiful Japanese woman, who, as a bonus, as a belly dancing Japan girl, offered the stranger a belly dance. As belly dancing propagated in Europe too, European prostitutes often offered them a belly dance as a bonus, as something “exotical”, as something “Japanese”. So western people started to call belly dancing “Japan” girls exotic dancers and more offensive things, while it was exotically only for them
Nowadays, belly dancing ‘Japan’ girls and boys are common but they are not very famous.