Spring in Japan is notable for a variety of reasons, including the famous cherry blossom season, and in Kyoto, the Miyako Odori is one of the most beautiful celebrations honoring the blossoms. Showcasing special cherry blossom dances, the Geisha of Kyoto perform a unique performance during the cherry blossom season.
History of Miyako Odori
Dating back to 1872, the Miyako Odori is celebrated during the month of April. The celebration originated in an effort to rejuvenate and boost culture in Kyoto when the court was moved to Tokyo in 1869. As a result, the Miyako Odori is celebrated four times a day, during the first of the month to the end. This takes place annually at the Gion Kobu Kaburen-jo theatre, which is found near the Yasaka Shrine.
Enjoying Miyako Odori
A key element of the Miyako Odori is the floral displays of cherry blossoms around Kyoto. The Hanami celebration honors and celebrates the bright pink blossoms, and can be celebrated by enjoying outdoor picnics or walks outside among the blossoms. Cherry blossoms are deeply ingrained in Japanese culture as is the concept of seasonality. The Miyako Odori is performed by both Geiko and Maiko regardless of their experience, where they embrace traditional instruments and movements. The Koto, along sitar, is often used in the performance along with specific dance movements and gestures. It is a visual representation of beauty, nature, and life with elements of Japanese folklore.
The 2019 Miyako Odori
The Gion Kobu Kaburenjo theatre has recently been under renovation as of 2016, so an alternate location is used. For 2019, the Miyako Odori performance will be held in the Minamiza Theater in Kyoto. Performances will be held from April 1 until April 27, 2019, in three daily shows that are approximately one hour long. Shows occur from 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm and 4:30 pm.
For those travelers in Japan during the spring, a visit to Kyoto to enjoy the Miyako Odori is one of the best ways to experience the culture and beauty of both the cherry blossoms and the Geisha.