Miyako Odori 2012, Scene Four: Fireflies Flying over Seta River


The geisha Suzuko (left) and Makiko are wearing the same "indigo blue and cinnabar red" kimono that they wore in scenes one and two of this year's Miyako Odori, but the props and background have changed again. This is now scene four, "Fireflies Flying over Seta River." If you look closely at the little red box in front of Makiko, you will see two tiny green lights flashing in it. The green lights represent the lights of fireflies, and the red boxes are cages used to catch the insects.

Fireflies are featured in Miyako Odori and other dances quite regularly. In my book Geisha & Maiko of Kyoto: Beauty, Art, & Dance, there is a photograph of Yukako as a maiko from the 2007 Miyako Odori holding a round cage with blinking fireflies in it. The title of that dance was "Watching Fireflies in the Kiyotaki River," and it was also the fourth scene that year. I haven't mentioned it in connection to any of the first few scenes, but the scenes in Miyako Odori each year are connected to the change in the seasons. Fireflies are a symbol of summer, and thus are sometimes featured in the scenes connected to the year's hottest months.

According to the Miyako Odori program, the connection of this dance and The Tale of the Heike is that it "depicts a boisterous movement of fireflies, comparing it to a battle between the Heike clan and the Genji clan at the Karahashi bridge over the Seta River."

Up next will be my favorite scene from the 2012 Miyako Odori, scene five.