This photo shows the geisha Mamehana (left) and Sonoe dancing in scene two of this year’s Miyako Odori, “Plum Branch in a Quiver.” Those who saw my photo of the “Prelude” last Wednesday might be wondering what the difference is since the two geiko are wearing the same costumes as they did in the first scene. The main visual differences are that the “Prelude” always features silver sliding doors in the background, an allusion to the silver sliding doors in the rooms where Inoue Yachiyo’s Kyomai style of dance (the only form of dance in Gion Kobu) was performed when it first started more than a century ago.
The other main difference is that the geiko dance with different props in this scene (red and white plum blossom branches) that Mamehana and Sonoe have placed on the stage in front of them during this part of the dance and thus are not visible in this photo. The setting of “Plum Branch in a Quiver” is the Ikuta Forest, where a famous battle (Ichi-no-tani) took place between the Heike and Genji clans. This battle, among many others, is depicted in the Tale of the Heike (Heike Monagatari). Remember, all the scenes in this year’s Miyako Odori are loosely connected to The Tale of the Heike and the famous warrior Taira no Kiyomori. In the Miyako Odori program it states that “Plum Branch in a Quiver” “…is based on the Noh drama Ebira (Quiver) describing a valiant warrior named Kajiwara Genta Kagesue who fought in the battlefield while keeping a branch of a plum tree stuck in his quiver.”
This Wednesday will have a photo from scene three and a change of costumes finally!