Tag Archives: Kimina

Odori Season and a Book Recommendation

The geisha Kimina of Miyagawa-cho performs in scene 1 of the 2009 Kyo Odori

The cherry blossoms are forecast to be in full bloom on April 4 this year in Kyoto, but the odori season has already started to blossom: Kitano Odori began on March 25 in Kamishichiken, Miyako Odori commences on April 1 in Gion Kobu, and Kyo Odori premiers on April 5 in Miyagawa-cho.

I attended Kitano Odori for the first time last year and enjoyed it very much. It is longer than both Miyako Odori and Kyo Odori at 90 minutes (with a short intermission in the middle) and features one long dance of about 40 minutes and several shorter dances.

All the odori have gift shops or at least tables with souvenirs on display, and at last year’s Kitano Odori I discovered a book about geiko and maiko that I want to share with you today.

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“Miyagawa Ondo” Part 4 and an Ondo/Kouta DVD

The geisha Kimina performs in Miyagawa Ondo, the finale of Kyo Odori in Kyoto

After the relatively dark and quiet third part of “Miyagawa Ondo,” the stage lights brighten again, the geisha kneel at the front of the stage, and the maiko return to dance standing behind them. The position that the geisha Kimina is in at this moment with her fan held high in her right hand and her left hand holding the right sleeve of her kimono is one of the key poses in the dance, and it is repeated several times when the geisha are standing and sitting.

For hardcore fans of Kyo Odori and “Miyagawa Ondo,” there is a DVD of the dance available, but I’m sorry to say it is not a very well-produced one. I noticed a DVD at one of the gift stands last Tuesday when I went to Kyo Odori again. I was puzzled by what it was because on the cover is a photograph of two red umbrellas drying in the sun on a street in Miyagawa-cho.

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“Miyagawa Ondo” Part 2 and Kyo Odori 2013

The geisha Kimina of Miyagawa-cho performing in Miyagawa Ondo, the final of Kyo Odori in Kyoto

The second part of “Miyagawa Ondo” starts when a bell rings. The lights brighten, and the first four geisha (see last week’s post) are joined onstage by the other geiko and maiko of Miyagawa-cho who performed that day. Since the Miyagawa-cho Kaburenjo is a relatively small theater, the geiko and maiko are standing shoulder to shoulder.

For this second stage, the geiko are in front with the maiko either behind them or standing along the two hanamichi (wooden paths along both sides of the stage). This moment when all the geiko and maiko appear together for the first time is always one of the highlights of Kyo Odori.

I asked Kimina about this part of the dance when I interviewed her for Geisha & Maiko of Kyoto: Beauty, Art, & Dance, and she told me, “I have to check out of the corner of my eyes to place myself at the right spot. It is not easy to perform with all the geiko and maiko together like this. We practice over and over.”

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A Month of “Miyagawa Ondo,” Part I

The geisha Kimina of Miyagawa-cho at the start of "Miyagawa Ondo," the annual finale of Kyo Odori

Since many of my readers don’t live in Japan and can’t attend Kyo Odori in Miyagawa-cho, I’m going to spend the next several posts describing the finale of Kyo Odori, “Miyagawa Ondo” or “Miyagawa Song and Dance” in both photos and words.

I have photographed “Miyagawa Ondo” more than any other dance (several times every year from 2007-2009), and most of the photos focus on the geisha Kimina, as this one does.

The dance begins with two geisha in light blue kimono literally tiptoeing onto the stage, coquettishly hiding their faces behind their silver and red fans. These first two are quickly joined by two more geiko in pale yellow kimono, also concealing their identity.

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