Jump to: navigation, search

Miyako Odori 1927

Mo cover 1927.jpg
Nengō Showa 2
Gregorian Year 1927
Dates Performed 1st - 30th Apr
Poem 隆栄の暁天
Ryū Sakae no gyōten
Romaji Miyako Odori
Kanji 都おどり
Kana みやこおどり
English Dance of the Capital
aka: The Cherry Dance

It goes without saying that, in our classical capital of over a thousand years, the veritable queen of all the Spring attractions, natural as well as artificial, is undoubtedly the Miyako Odori or Cherry Dance reputably known not only at home but far beyond the seas. Soaring high amidst various floral shows, it is fascinatingly admired as the most beautiful and charming sight of this fairy-land. Small wonder that it annually attracts countless numbers of visitors, regardless of sex, age and classes, from all parts of the Empire.

In fact, the Miyako Odori was originally promoted and consumnated by Madam Haruko Inouye, a veteran dancing teacher, and Mr. Jiroemon Sugiura, proprietor of Ichiriki, the most famous tea-house int he country. Thanks to the valuable guidance of the then Governor of Kyoto Hase and Councillor Makimura, it was successfully started in March, 1872, the very year Japan saw her foremost exposition. Every since, this popular dance has been making progress by bounds and strikes as seen at the present day.

The Miyako Odori consists of 32 dancers, 12 singers, 5 tsuzumi (hand-drum) players, 4 taiko (small drum) and kane (bell) players, 2 o-daiko (bigger drum) players and 1 fue (flute) player, thereby forming a company of 56 fair players. There are four companies with a total of 224 girls, who change their turn every four days during the performance or April. These girls are all select geishas of Gion, a most fashionable red-light quarter dating back to 1790.

It is earnestly hoped that those who want to appreciate a typical dance of this country, simultaneously studying the life of our ancient Imperial seat, should not fail to visit the Miyako Odori, Kyoto's supreme pride. All are cordially welcome.

The Miyako Odori or Cherry Dance for 1927

The Miyako Odori or Cherry Dance for this year is entitled "Sakae-no-Akatsuki", literally meaning "Dawn of Prosperity", and it is designed upon the most beautiful spots in Kyoto inseparably associated with an endless number of historic interest. The scenery is admirably fitted up, according to the four seasons, with consummate artistic skill as usual, being decidedly unrivalled throughout the whole country.

The interlude "Mugiya Odori" or "Barley Harvest Dance" initiated by some remnants of the once all-powerful Taira Clan is indeed an outstanding feature in the present Cherry Dance and is expected to draw a thunder of applause from the spectators upon whom "Banzais" are showered.


Act I. "Flowery Capital of Beauty"

The spacious stage is, in accordance with a custom of long standing, tastefully furnished with the silver-foiled sliding-doors, on the upper part of which are painted the time-honored bamboo-blinds neatly rolled up, imparting an atmosphere of the dignified palatial residence characteristic of the Sunrise-land.

The fair dancers gaily attired in a handsome costume peculiar to the Cherry Dance display their accomplished art, holding in their pliant hands the fans made of artificial cherry-blossoms and willow-leaves symbolical of Spring. It is unmistakably a typical Oriental nay Kyoto sight too fascinating to behold in this Occidentalized age, presenting a Paradise where angels merrily dance to the accompaniment of Heavenly music.

Act II. "Plum Blossoms of Kitano"

Kitano, or the Kitano Jinsha, is a Shinto shrine dedicated to Sugawara-no-Michizane who is worshipped as "God of Calligraphy and Literature". He was a most distinguished scholar and statesman of profound knowledge. In 901 during his incumbency of the Minister-of-the-Right, he unluckily fell a victim to an intrigue vilely plotted by his fellow minister Fujiwara-no-Tokihira and was unjustly exiled to Kyushu where he passed away two years later. Just on the point of leaving his home, he bade farewell to his favourite plum-tree improvising so sharply touching a poem that it flew after its beloved master in exile. From this legend, it became customary to plant plum-trees around all shrines consecrated to Michizane.

Act III. "State Apartments of Omuro"

Omuro is the popular name of the noted monastery Ninnaji of the Shingon sect, lying at the foot of a poetical mountain, Ouchiyama. Its construction was commenced in August of 886 under the command of the Emperor Kōkō who, however, left the world before its completion. Thus, in obedience to the wishes of his predecessor, the Emperor Uda completed the remaining work in the ensuring two years, naming it the Ninnaji where he entered the priesthood in 899. Indeed, its abbot had always been a prince of the blood for nearly 1000 years up to the Restoration of Meiji.
The State Apartments of Omuro mean the three magnificent parlors of the Ninnaji, the architecture of which is a combination of the graceful Court style and the gorgeous mansion of feudal lord, and they were newly reconstructed in 1914 in place of the original ones destroyed by fire years ago. The visitor is requested to note that the pretty dancing performed in the last apartment is more or less seasoned with a Korean dance started by the order of the Emperor Kōkō and is expressly brought not here in consideration of its close relation to the Ninnaji.

Apart from the religious distinction, Omuro is reputed for its nation-wide cherry-blossoms of superb beauty, while the trees are congenitally of short and thick trunks. Besides, it is widely known for a glorious spectacle of azaleas, uncommonly tall perhaps nowhere else to be seen, blooming in the late Spring around an imposing pagoda towering as a landmark of holiness.

Act IV. "New Foliage at Kinkaku"

Kinkaku or Gold Pavilion is a three-storied historic edifice soaring over a lake in the celebrated landscape garden of the Buddhist temple Rokuonji. It was erected in 1397 by Yoshimitsu, the 3rd Shogun of the Ashikaga dynasty. Having resigned the post of Shogun three years previously, Yoshimitsu retired here to lead a peaceful monastic life, although he was in reality directing all state affairs. In spite of the fact that all other buildings, which were turned into a temple in pursuance of his dying words, were repeatedly reduced to ashes by fire, the Gold Pavilion and its beautiful garden were saved from the fatal hands of destruction and still remain intact an Elysium of the ancient capital of the Island Empire.

Act V. "Barley Harvest Dance"

Barley Harvest Dance or Mugiya Odori is a farmers dance prevalent in the Taira Village of Itchu Province and its neighbourhood. These villagers are supposed to be the descendants of the defeated warriors of the Taira Clan who sought refuge in this mountainous region to escape from annihilation by the rival Minamoto Clan. This rural dance is said to have originated in an elegy sung by these ill-starred Samurais giving vent to the lamentation over their wretched plight, and it is usually performed by six men wearing a crested Kimono, a loose trouser, a short sword and a sedge-hat: but, in the present Act, in order to make the dance more attractive, the stately costumes worn by young nobles of the Taira Clan are substituted.

Act VI. "Moon at Ginkaku"

Ginkaku or Silver Pavilion is a two-storied structure built by Yoshimasa, the 8th Shogun (1449-1473) of the Ashikaga dynasty, in imitation of the Gold Pavilion. It stands in the far-famed landscape garden designed by Sōami, a rare expert in all lines of art. Here the Shogun lived a quiet life totally absorbed in [a]esthetic pleasures. In fact, the Japanese fine arts had made a marvelous progress during his period.

The visitor would find it amusing to notice the appearance of a bonfire in the form of a Chinese character "Great" being lighted on a mountain in the scenery. This festival is annually held on Mt. Nyoigatake behind the Silver Pavilion on August 16th in memory of the departed souls. No dancers in this Act.

Act VII. "Maple Tints of Tsūtenkyo"

Tsūtenkyo, literally, "Bridge-to-Heaven", is a massive-roofed wooden bridge spanning a valley profusely grown with maple-trees. A clear stream of crystal [water] calmly running below the valley is too charming to describe and certainly affords a refreshing sensation to the looker-on. In the fall, there is presented a scene of brilliant tints of various shades almost dazzling to the eyes, therety attracting a gigantic number of visitors. The would-be Bridge-to-Heaven is suspended in the extensive ground of the Tōfukuji monastery revered as a most holy spot. The Tōfukuji was established in 1255 and is well known for its matchless painting "Sakyamuni's Entry into Nirvana" executed by Chōdensu in 1408.

Act VIII. "Snowy Scene of Uji"

Uji is a fashionable resort in the southern suburb, famous not only for its scenic beauty but for its innumerable historical associations, being picturesquely situated on the bank of the River Uji on which pleasure boats are always ready for hire all the year round. It is here that the best tea in this country is produced, particularly those kinds suited for tea-ceremony. The glimmering of fireflies is another attraction of Uji.

The stage represents the pine-avenue leading to the Uji Shrine, and across the River a thirteen-storied stone pagoda of the 13th century put up on the so-called "Floating Islet" and the Pho[o]enix Hall erected in 1051, the unique architectural relic of the Fujiwara period.

Act IX. "Cherry Blossoms of Hirano"

Hirano, or properly the Hirano Jinsha, is a highest state shrine located in the north-western corner of the City. founded originally in Yamato Province, it was removed in 794 near Kinukasa by the Emperor Kwammu and again to the existing site in 871. The Shrine is divided into four halls in which are enshrined Sun-goddess and four other gods.

Hirano is one of the most renowned for its wonderful cherry-blossoms, especially for its night scenery, being brightly illuminated with pretty lanterns of divers shapes and colors. Tradition has it that formerly there were nearly 80 species of cherry-trees, but not so many at present. No wonder an immense crowd of flower-admirers yearly flock thither from afar and wide.


Maiko & Geiko Performers