Tag Archives: Kimina

“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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The Geisha Kimina in “Miyagawa Kouta”

The geisha Kimina performs in "Miyagawa Kouta," the finale of Mizuekai, Miyagawa-cho's fall dance recital.

This photo was taken on the same day and from the same seat in the front row of the Miyagawa-cho Kaburenjo during Mizuekai 2007 as the image of Fukunami I published a few days ago. For some reason, I was always in the right spot when it came to photographing Kimina, even though I never knew before the performance where she would be on stage.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned it before, but the Miyagawa-cho Kaburenjo is so small that the performers can see the audience just as clearly as the audience can see them. Kimina told me that she would always spot me in the front row. (I am a head taller than most Japanese, so I must have been pretty easy to see.) The cozy atmosphere of the Miyagawa-cho Kaburenjo is one of the main reasons I enjoy Mizuekai and Kyo Odori more than any other dances…


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