Monday, June 25, 2007
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Takahiro, a maiko in her second year of service in the Gion Kobu district of Kyoto, enjoying the cherry blossoms along the Shirakawa stream from beneath her oiled paper umbrella.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Monday, June 18, 2007
It didn't take me long to learn that my lens and I were less than capable of capturing the beauty of landscapes, and so for the past three years, I've smiled over sunsets reflected in flooded rice fields and tides of blue mountains fading into evening, content to be blessed with the privledge. With less than two months to go and the nagging suspicion that there's a very fortunate pre-JET out there searching for info on this mysterious "city", I decided to take my camera along with me for one of my "walks in the rice fields". Yokoso, Ena! Welcome to Ena!
Disclaimer: Actual objects are a million times more beautiful that they appear, especially when complimented by the soundtrack of cicads, choruses of croaking frogs, the steady giggle of running water and the appearance of an occasional fire fly.
One of many traditional houses, surrounded by flooded rice fields.
The Nishio Minshuku, a traditional Japanese bed and breakfast nestled at the foot of the mountains.
A view of the rice fields from the top of a hill behind my apartment.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
The Two Things I Love the Most: Johnny Depp and Ridiculously Cute Japanese Kids!
Japan Intervie - More free videos are here
I watched these as soon as I woke up this morning, and they made my day! The first one is a clip of Johnny Depp being interviewed by two kids from a international school in Gunma Prefecture during his Pirates 2 Promotion.
The second is from his recent visit to Japan to promote Pirates 3. PLEASE watch them! AS Johnny says, he"ll never forget this as long as he lives. "It's one of the most beautiful, poetic, strange and haunting things I've ever seen in my life." Welcome to Japan, Johnny. Welcome to Japan.
Did I mention I love Johnny Depp? LOVE him!
Saturday, June 09, 2007
Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Having fled the villians, the geiko arrive at Oi River, made famous in folk songs for its high waters. They are met by the mistresses of an Inn, who, desperate for buisness, try to persuade them to rest. Only 200 km from Edo, the geiko are forced to lodge for the night by the impassibly high rivers caused by the recent rain.
Another beautiful example of the fluid, feminine movements of Ponotcho's style of dance.
As they prepare to take rest in an Inn, an express messenger arrives with a message for them.
The geiko of Pontocho have been eagerly awaiting their return, and unless they turn back immediately, they will miss Kamogawa Odori!
Sunday, June 03, 2007
Rain begins to fall as they reach Tsuchiyama (southeastern Shiga). Ariving at a difficult pass through the Suzuka mountains, they find a young girl who appears to be crying. Kind hearted geiko that they are, they try to comfort her, but she shyly turns away. When they finally decide to move on, the girl stops them, calling for her companions-- A gang of bandits! The bandits refuse to let them pass, ordering them to dance. Isin't it just like a geiko to get out of a jam with her dance?
Here's the plan....
Yossh! Let's go!
The town of Otsu (Omi Province, now Shiga Prefecture), is famous for a painting of wisteria maidens that comes to life as the traveling geiko reach the first stop on their way to Edo.
Ichikyo and Hisamari
Always elegant, graceful and statuesque: Hisano.
Ichimame of Pontocho is the highest ranking maiko in her district.
Friday, June 01, 2007
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).
Shinatomi, ready to go.
Ichiko is ready to go!
Ichimame leads the maiko of Pontocho in a farewell dance.