After visiting the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto earlier today our next sightseeing spot was Gion. Even though we were in the vicinity of Gion before when we visited the Kiyomizudera Temple in the Higashimeda district earlier this month we wanted to return when the Miyako Odori presentation was on. The Miyako Odori is only on for one month of April 1st – 30th with 4 shows each day, 12.30, 14.00, 15.30 & 16.50 the performance lasts an hour
Day 48 – April 20th continued.
Arriving in Gion after taking the train from Inari back to Kyoto and then catching a short bus ride to Gion. We head to the Gion Corner where the Miyako Odori performance takes place to see if they have any tickets left for today.
“Gion Corner and the Miyako Odori”
Tickets range from 2000Yen called a ‘second class ticket’ which gets you in the free seating area on tatami mats without chairs on the 3rd floor. The next one is called ‘First class ticket’ and this costs 4000Yen which gets you a reserved seat on the second floor or designated seating on tatami mats without chairs on the balcony of the 2nd floor.
And finally you can purchase the ‘Special class ticket with Green Tea’ for 4500Yen and this gets you reserved seats on the 1st floor or in the front area of the 2nd floor, or designated seating on tatami mats without chairs in the balcony of the 2nd floor.
We were very fortunate to get two of the last three tickets left to the 16.50 show, so we had time to go and explore a bit of the area.
The Gion area is an old part of town and has lots of character, unfortunately it was raining on and off that afternoon but still we had a good look around.
“Our tickets also included the Green Tea Ceremony”
Which allow you to attend the tea ceremony an hour before the actual show. Our show was the 16.50 one and we were waiting in line at 3 30pm. The 1st waiting area passes a few displays before going into the tea ceremony room, here you chose your seat, we score two in the front row as we were one of the first in the line. I think you may not get such a good view from the rear.
“The tea ceremony is really nothing spectacular and is over in a flash”
As soon as your sat a lady will collect your ticket and give you a sweet bun filled with sweet bean paste, then another will come along with the green tea. All this is happening while the two Geiko are performing the ceremony at the front of the room on a slightly higher stage.
You get to keep the plate that the sweet is served on, they are individual but nothing to mention the Miyako Odori on it. We ended up giving ours away. The tea is bright green and very light as they whip it with a macha brush.
After the tea ceremony you wait in the waiting area before going into the Kaburenjo theatre.
When the doors open you take your allocated seats and then the performance begins.
“Unfortunately no photos are allowed during the Miyako Odori presentation”
So you will have to make do with my explanation of what goes on with a little help from the brochure.
This year 2014 is the 142nd Miyako Odori and each year the costumes are made to order and the kimono and Obi sash take 6 months to make for experienced Kyo-Yuzen manufactures. In Miyako Odori they believe that ‘everything has to be a masterpiece’.
“The 142nd Miyako Odori performance”
A call of “YO-IYAa-SA-” meaning the beginning of spring and the Geiko and Maiko come to the stage from two passageways on each side of the stage. The performance consists of eight scenes beginning with a scene that depicts spring, followed by summer, fall, winter and spring again for the finale The beginning starts with 20 dancers on stage and the impressive finale has 60 dancers. Music is performed on both sides of the stage by Jikata and Ohayashi playing all sorts of instruments.
The Maiko and Geiko practice artistic disciplines at the Yasaka yokoba school such as ‘Mai’ which is dancing and ‘Shamisen’ which is lute and this annual performance ‘Miyaki Odori’ is where the Maiko and Geiko have the opportunity to display their achievements.
We had no choice with our tickets as they were the last ones. Moni had a ticket that allowed her to sit on the tatami mats on the 2nd floor and mine was also for the second floor but in the second row of the middle balcony. We both had great views to the stage but I think being straight on is better than the sides. The 1st floor (ground Floor) is below the stage and you the look up at the dancers, I prefer to look down.
The show was good and very well presented, but didn’t really have a massive wow factor to it. After the Miyako Odori performance we head into town to look around, if you are lucky you might get to see some Meiko or Geiko walking through the streets.
Next we walk into Pontochio for dinner, expensive but nice, not sure if it is the area or a place to rip off tourists, either way not worth it for sure. After dinner we catch a bus to the station then a train home, we are very tired so a quick check of emails then to bed.