Friday, June 01, 2007

Kamogawa Odori: Travel Along the Tokaido

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Shinahide, a geiko from the Pontocho district of Kyoto, with young Ichitomi in the background.

After hearing that Hisamari, my favorite Pontocho maiko, had decided to end her service, I was rather disappointed. She danced so beautifully last year, I barely remember anything else. This year's Kamogawa Odori, however, was probably one of the best performances I have seen in the past three years! Even Ichimame, the famous blogging maiko of Kamishichiken, was impressed, writing in her blog:


The other day I had was able to see Pontocho's Kamogawa Odori. The second part, "Travel Along the Tokaido", was very impressive. That is to say, until now I have had the chance to see many places' dances, but this one was very interesting and amusing. I learned a lot.

As in Kamishichiken's Kitano Odori, the Kamogawa Odori is presented in two parts. The first half is dedicated to performing a theatrical peice in many scenes, with emphasis on the acting skills of the geiko, while the second half is reserved for showcasing various dances independent of one another. This year, the geiko of Pontocho, inspired by the series of comical books about travel on the Tokaido written in the early 19th century, depicted the journey of two geiko traveling the Tokaido Highway, the road that once connected the then capital of Kyoto to Edo (present day Tokyo).

Seen off by the maiko and geiko of Pontocho, the two geiko started their trip from the Sanjo Bridge, bound for Tokyo.

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Shinatomi, ready to go.

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Ichiko is ready to go!

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Ichimame leads the maiko of Pontocho in a farewell dance.


Cherry said...

Kamogawa Odori!! Yay! I've been waiting to hear about your thoughts on this one. :)

Marisa said...

i can't believe Hisamari wants to stop...

Katy said...

Question: You mention Ichimame talking about the dance in her blog, but on the final picture's caption, you say: "Ichimame leads the maiko of Pontocho in a farewell dance." Do you mean a different maiko?

And I agree. It's very sad to hear Hisamari is leaving.

Melissa said...

Hisamari left Pontocho sometime last year. It is possible she left to get married...Many maiko often do. Either way, it is better for her to leave than to continue doing something that she no longer wanted to do. The great thing about the geiko today is they do it because they want to- they choose to dedicate themselves to their art, and they have the freedom to leave when they want to. I wish her happiness and success in whatever she persues (^-^)/ Although I will miss seeing her perform!

Ichimame of Kamishichiken is the blogging maiko.

Ichimame of Pontocho is the maiko in the final picture. It is quite common for more than on geiko to have the same name (^-^) but it can get confusing.

Marisa said...

of course it is better for them to stop when they don't feel like doing it anylonger. it's their right and i am happy they can decide when to stop. must be horrible to have to continue doing something one dislikes...

but it is still sad, to me, to see someone stop being a maiko/geiko.

^-^ i hope she has a filled and happy life.

Anonymous said...

Its me! I have to tel you something-Well I messaged you on myspace...small world story.
Tanya Benavides

Melissa said...

Ahhhhhhhh! Tanya! (^-^)/ When I wrote that I was absolutely positive that you were the only person in the world that would get it (^0^) I never thought you would actually check my blog though! Miss you girl! I'll be in touch (^_<)

Cherry said...

Oh, the memories of Kyoto!

Royce said...

Well, I messed up on my last drawing that I posted on Flickr (Royce Okobo 2007)Melissa, so pray I won't do that again! And I made up a crane, so I'll be okay. (^-^)

Michael Lambe said...

Dear Melissa Chasse,

I wonder if I might have your permission to use one of your pictures on my blog I would like to use it to illustrate an article by John Dougill on the Kamogawa Odori (John Dougill is the author of "Kyoto: A Cultural History"). Of course I will give you full credit for the photograph and post a link back to your blog. Please let me know by email to I look forward to hearing from you.


Michael Lambe