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MIYAKO ODORI (The Cherry-Blossom Dance)

Miyako Odori started in 1872 and has the 135th performance in this year.  The theme of this year's Miyako Odori is 'Famous Places Rooted in the History of Kyoto.'  As the settings of our scenes we selected famous places which are historiacally related to Kyoto.

Here are brief introductions of all eight scenes from the beginning.   The first scene is played as Prelude.  The second one is 'New Year's Visit to the Shimogamo Shrine.'  The shrine is one of the oldest and most revered shrines in Kyoto.

Commemorating the 400th anniversary of the Hikone Castle in this year, we create the third scene base d on the Hikone folding screen, which used to be owned by the Hikone domain, the Ii family.  Based on the details of the crowd portrayed in Rakuchu Rakugai Zu (scenes in and around the capital), four panels of this six-fold screen depict an ex-samurai man, a Kabuki woman with the hair tied on the top, two prostitutes and a child of pleasure quarters in Kyoto.  It is said that this screen was made around 1635 and considered as one of the best genre paintings in our art history.  The screen is no designated as a national treasure.  With the various works by our stage designers, the five main figures of the screen come out to the stage and dance.

The fourth scene is 'Watching Fireflies in the Kiyotaki River.'  The Kiyotaki River runs out of the mountain Atagoyama, where the Atago shrine is located.  The deities of the shrine are believed to prevent fires.  'Princess Kaguya' in out fifth scene is played with Joruri.  We depict the ending of the famous fold tale, Taketori Monogatari: The return of the princess to the Moon.

The sixth scene with autumn color leaves is the Jojakkoji temple in Sagano area.  The temple is located in the mountain Ogura, which is closely related to Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (collection of one hundred waka).  As the setting of the seventh scene we selected the Echigo plain, where Echigo chijimi is produced.  This scene is based on a writing compiled by Bokushi Suzuki, a folklorist and chijimi broker.  Our final is the cherry blossoms in the Kinkakuji temple.

Miyako Odori continuously offers their performance everyday in April at the Gionkobu Kaburenjo Theater, which is designated as a tangible cultural asset of Japan.  Miyako Odori gives you the best opportunity to experience the traditional culture of Kyoto.

How Miyako Odori Started

People of Kyoto were very concerned that Kyoto would go downhill after the relocation of the capital to Tokyo at the Meiji Restoration.

Kyoto Governor Nobuatsu Hase and Vice Governor Masanao Makimura made a lot of efforts to develop and prosper Kyoto further.  In 1871, they planned to hold the Japanese first exposition in the Imperial Palace in order to promote the Kyoto industry.

Jirouemon Sugiura, the representative of Gion Shinbashi and owner of Mantei (current Ichiriki, a famous ochaya - a place where Geiko and Maiko entertain), received a request from Kyoto prefectural government to show a dance by Geiko and Maiko to the public.  With the collaboration from Yachiyo Inoue the Third, the head of the dance school of Kyomai, Mr. Sugiura came up with an idea of dancing in a group based on the performance of 'Kamenoko Odori' in Ise Furuichi.

In March of 1872, as a sideshow of the EXPO, the dance 'Miyako Odori Jyunicho,' created by Masanao Makimura, was performed with the chorus and musicians in a room with beautiful sliding doors of a house called Matsunoya, located in Gion Shinbashi.  This performance was the start of the current Miyako Odori.

At that time, they agreed that the dance of Gion Kobu must be Inoue's Kyomai and that no other schools should be involved.  This promise has been kept since then, and the quality and dignity of the Miyako Odori are passed on to the following heads; the Fourth and the current head, Yachiyo Inoue the Fifth.

Ashley and Noriko looking at a flowering tree.

The entrance gate to Tenryu temple grounds

There was lots of beautiful landscaping.

The entrance to a temple.

It was past the peak cherry blossom season, but there were some with blooms and seeing the fallen petals were also beautiful.

A picture of The Tenryu-ji Cloud-Dragon, the dragon is the Asian symbol of wisdom.

A purple cherry tree, according to Noriko, the sign says that this is a cherry tree and these are purple cherry blossoms!

I thought the coloration of this Japanese maple was nice, different than the normal bright green and red.

A view from above of the Tenryu temple grounds

There are several workers like this lady who meticulously picks weeds, rakes leaves, and tends to the grounds which leave them looking pristine.

Bamboo forest

This is one of Ashley's friends little boy, Luca; he loved the water!

You are actually supposed to use these cups to purify your hands, not necessarily use them like drum sticks or throw water around!

Daiichiro and Noriko, this picture was so funny because he put his arm around her and she was very embarassed, they have NEVER done that in public!

Some of the last cherry blossoms of the year.

More bamboo trees.

The garden was completely covered in moss, very neat.

We are standing on the Togetsu kyou bridge overlooking the Katsura river.

Ashley in the trolley car that would take us to the Gion district in Kyoto.

This is a very exclusive restaurant that you could only eat at if are "introduced" by a current patron, Geisha's accompany many of the patrons.

Seven Geiko reside in this house, you can see their name cards. The term Geisha is used in Tokyo and Geiko is used in Kyoto ... they are the same.

The main street of Gion.

The entrance to the theater where we would see the Miyako Odori (cherry blossom dance) performance.

Ashley and Nikki with an actual Geiko, she was looking at the artwork in this gallery.

Ashley and I standing in the garden.

A Geiko making tea for tea ceremony.

The Maiko was in purple and the Geiko in blank. A Maiko is a Geiko in training.

The start of the Miyako Odori.

All of these ladies are Maikos.

These ladies in the next pictures are all Geikos.

All of these costumes were so beautiful.