Image search results - "miyako"
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Entrance to the road leading to the Cherry Dance theater (Gion Kobu Kaburenjo) in the Gion district. The sign says "Miyako Odori."
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More signposts reading "Miyako Odori." "Miyako" means capital (Kyoto was once Japan's capital city), and "Odori" means dance.
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"Miyako Odori" sign post. Performed for over a century, the dance makes April a very special time in Kyoto. It helps to hone the dance and musical skills of the geiko and maiko who diligently practice for this annual dance.
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"Miyako Odori" poster in English.
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"Miyako Odori" poster and paper lantern.
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PR posters and paper lanterns for the Miyako Odori are everywhere.
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Ichiriki, a famous geisha tea house.
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Maiko and geisha can often be seen in Gion.
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Gate to Kobu Kaburenjo Theater. Four shows daily in April, lasting about 1 hour (too short). Ticket prices range from 1900 yen to 4300 yen.
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Gate to Kobu Kaburenjo Theater. You can make ticket reservations by phone, or go directly to the theater ticket office and buy tickets.
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Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theater. Ticket office is on the right. Best to buy tickets at least a few days in advance.
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Jodogahama sign. Part of the Rikuchu-Kaigan National Park.Rikuchu-Kaigan National Park, Iwate Pref.
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Jodogahama literally means Paradise Beach.Rikuchu-Kaigan National Park, Iwate Pref.
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Dramatic rock formations.Rikuchu-Kaigan National Park, Iwate Pref.
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Jodogahama, Iwate Pref.Rikuchu-Kaigan National Park, Iwate Pref.
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Not a sandy beach, but still popular in summer.
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The cherry dance consists of several acts each with a different dance or play.
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A hanamichi is also on the left side of the theater.
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We were right near the hanamichi where the geisha performed.
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Note that taking pictures and videos are not allowed.
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Main stage at front.
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A play
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Autumn
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Somebody had a big head...
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Miyako Odori, Kyoto
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Climax with cherry blossom motif.
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Cherry Dance, Kyoto.
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For more info, see miyako-odori.jp in English or call 075-541-3391.
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Kyoto geiko and maiko at their best for the finale.
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These dance photos were taken in April 2002. Note that taking pictures and videos of the dance are no longer allowed.
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April 2005 - Cherry Dance, KyotoIf you're lucky enough to be in Kyoto during the month of April, don't miss the annual Miyako Odori or Cherry Dance performed by some 64 geiko and maiko (apprentice geisha) dressed in beautiful kimono. This is Kyoto's biggest event of the year and a national institution. This year, the 133rd Miyako Odori will be held (first performed in 1872).

There are four shows daily during April 1-30 at the Kobu Kaburen-jo Theater in Gion, one of the prime geisha districts in Kyoto. With so many shows, it is fairly easy to obtain tickets priced from 1,900 yen to 4,300 yen. Even the maiko themselves are required to sell a large lot of tickets.

The dance consists of eight plays showing the different seasons of Kyoto. The last act is the most colorful with the cherry blossom motif. Photography is permitted but no flash. My only complaint is that it's too short. It lasts only about an hour. But this is what the geiko and maiko practice hard for, and it's a great honor to appear in this dance. They are the best.

When we think of geisha dances, most of us think of the Miyako Odori, but Kyoto actually has other geisha dances such as the Kyo Odori at Miyagawa-cho Kabuki Theater during April 2-17 (3 shows daily), the Kitano Odori on April 15-25 (2 or 3 shows daily) at Kamishichiken Kaburenjo, and the Kamogawa Odori during May 1-24 (3 shows daily) at Pontocho Kaburenjo Theater. Each dance represents their respective geisha district.

And did you know that Tokyo also has geisha? They are in Asakusa, Kagurazaka, and Shimbashi. I bet you didn't know that they put on annual geisha dances either. Well, the Kagurazaka geisha will hold its annual Hana no Kai dance on April 16 this year (2 shows), and the Shimbashi geisha performs their annual Azuma Odori at the Shimbashi Embujo Theater on May 28-31 (2 shows daily).

Unfortunately, the Asakusa geisha don't hold annual dances for the public. The last one they had was several years ago (which was very nice!). However, they do appear or dance publicly at major festivals in Asakusa such as the Sanja Matsuri in May and Tokyo Jidai Matsuri in Nov.

This cover shot is a composite image taken a few years ago. The cherry blossoms (not real) hanging from the ceiling has been "lowered" in the picture. It's actually much higher on stage.

Cover photo and page design: © Philbert Ono

JAPANESE:

都をどり、京都
国宝と言えるほどのをどりだと思います。133年も続いていて素晴らしい。数年前に撮った合成写真です。

同じ4月に宮川町と北野の京都のをどりがあります。そして5月は先斗町の鴨川をどり。

ところで、東京も芸者さんのをどりがありますよ。(東京にも芸者さんがいます。)4月16日に神楽坂の「華の会」そして新橋演舞場の「東をどり」は5月18〜31日。残念ながら、浅草の芸者さんは毎年にをどりを開催してないが、浅草の祭りに見れます。

写真と表紙デザイン:© Philbert Ono
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