"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 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."

I attended the 2013 version of Kyo Odori yesterday, and the highlight of this year's dance in my opinion is definitely Scene 6, "Yuki-onna" or "Snow Woman." Yuki-onna is a spirit who preys on men who wander into the snow-covered mountains, but she falls in love with one young potential victim, who is bewitched by Yuki-onna's beauty. It states in this year's program, "However, the yuki-onna understands that she will suffer the cruel fate of melting away if she shows mercy to a mortal -- and it is at this point that the Snow King appears..."

Yuki-onna was played by Kimina, the young man by Fumiyuu, and the Snow King by Miehina. I was impressed by Miehina's performance because she is a relatively young geiko who was sharing the stage with two very seasoned veterans. Kimina has been a geiko for more than ten years, and Fumiyuu even longer than that. I still remember photographing Miehina as a first-year maiko back in 2004. She has come a long way since then!