Tag Archives: Miyako Odori

The Tea Ceremony at Miyako Odori

The geisha Mameharu of Gion Kobu prepares for the tea ceremony at Miyako Odori

If you are familiar with the tea ceremony held before every performance of Miyako Odori (The Cherry Blossom Dance) at the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo in Kyoto every April, you might notice that this photo is a little different than most you will see.

For one thing, the geisha Mameharu is smiling here, and geiko are taught to keep their faces expressionless during the tea ceremony. For another, the candle in the bottom left corner of the frame is not lit.

The reason for these anomalies is that this photo was made about an hour before the tea ceremony began on April 1, 2013, the first and only time Mameharu performed the tea ceremony during Miyako Odori as a geiko.

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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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Tickets for Miyako Odori and Kyo Odori

The geisha Fukunami of Miyagawa-cho performs in scene one of the 2007 Kyo Odori

Although Miyako Odori begins April 1 and Kyo Odori begins April 6 this year, the geisha and maiko of Gion Kobu and Miyagawa-cho start selling tickets to their customers and teahouses in February. As with most things in Kyoto’s hanamachi, the selling is done softly and subtly.

The geiko and maiko let you know they would like you to purchase tickets from them by giving you the pamphlet for that year’s odori wrapped in white paper. On the white paper they have personally written your name, their name, and the name of the dance. Continue reading »

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Miyako Odori Coming Soon to Kyoto

The maiko Makiko of Gion Kobu dancing in Miyako Odori, the Cherry Blossom Dance held every April in Kyoto.

Although it’s unusually cold in Kyoto at the moment, spring and Miyako Odori are just around the corner. Miyako Odori, the largest and most famous dance performance of geisha and maiko, is held every year at the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo in Gion Kobu in Kyoto from April 1 – 30. There are four shows daily, at 12:30 p.m., 2:o0 p.m., 3:30 p.m., and 4:50 p.m. This photo of the maiko Makiko was taken at the 2007 Miyako Odori, when I had special permission to photograph the dances for my book Geisha & Maiko of Kyoto: Beauty, Art, & Dance (2009).

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