Feb 10, 2015

Miyako Odori

Miyako Odori is "The Dance of the Capital" and occurs every spring during the month of April in the old capital of Kyoto. The first Miyako Odori took place in 1872 and has been a popular event for locals and visitors ever since.

During our trip to Japan last spring, I desperately wanted to see some real geisha (geiko) and not just catch a glimpse of one at night on the streets of Gion. We were so lucky that our visit coincided with that year's Miyako Odori.

Miyako Odori is a dance and musical performance put on by the maiko and geiko of Gion Kobu. Maiko are apprentice geiko, who are still training to become full-fledged geiko.

Since 1873 the performance has been held in the same beautiful theatre, the Gion Kobu Kaburen-jo Theatre.

Prior to the performance, we explored the gardens of the theatre and looked at some displays before we were very hurriedly directed into the tea ceremony.

The whole affair felt and was very rushed. A geiko made tea at the front of the room and was assisted by a maiko.

During the ceremony, workers placed a cup of tea and red bean sweet in front of us for our enjoyment.  The sweet arrived on a hand-painted plate that was ours to keep as a souvenir.

I was so busy taking pictures that I had to scarf down both my tea and sweet while people were rushing us to leave the room. I wished we had more time to soak everything in, but I thought it was still worth it to attend the tea ceremony.

We were then escorted to a holding area where we waited until the theatre was open for seating. In this area, there was a souvenir stand, restrooms and a sitting area.

Finally, it was time for the show. Our seats were lovely, in the center on the first floor and not too far back.

As many things in Japanese culture, this performance focused somewhat on seasonality. Many scenes depicted the changing of seasons. Since it was cherry blossom season, this also played heavily into the setting and staging of the dances. 

I couldn't follow everything that was going on, but the dances were mesmerizing. I was amazed by the grace and elegance of their movements.

Source: Miyako Odori
Source: Miyako Odori

The 2015 Miyako Odori takes places April 1 to 30, 2015 - four times daily (12:30, 2:00, 3:30 and 4:50). The performance lasts one hour.

Ticket prices vary:
¥4,800 Special Class ticket - reserved seating on the first floor or front area of the second floor or in a designated tatami mat area on the second floor balcony. Ticket also includes tea ceremony with souvenir plate. 

¥4,200 First Class ticket -  Reserved seating on the second floor or in a designated tatami mat area on the second floor balcony.

¥2,500 Second Class ticket - Non-reserved bench seats on the third floor

Tickets may be reserved online.

*Information accurate on date of publication* 

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