Miyako Odori 都をどり
A Miyako odori dancer
Credit: Stéphane Barbery
Dancing geisha at Miyako Odori festival.
A maiko in a blue kimono
Maiko and geiko living it up
Miyako Odori, one of the best-attended festivals in Kyoto, is an invitation to pay homage to the pink-tinted cherry blossom.
Every Spring, the geisha of Kyoto, whether they are apprentices or more experienced, perform their cherry blossom dances during the Miyako Odori.
Read more: What is a geisha?
The flowering of the cherry trees is an important event for the Japanese people – it's the beginning of several festivities such as the famous hanami, admiration of the cherry blossoms, often involving a picnic in the park but also an opportunity to take time out to consider the passing of time and the transient nature of life.
Rebirth, the blossoming of the cherry trees, an event which is widely followed and programmed, day after day, is also an ode to the beauty of this world. Since the 19th century, the geiko (experienced geisha) and the maiko (apprentice geisha) have come together to dance to the sounds of traditional instruments such as the koto (long sitar). The cherry blossom dance is famous throughout Japan for the delicate nature of the performers and the grace of their movements. Bring a little poetry into your life!
The theater where the geishas traditionally perform, Gion Kobu Kaburenjo, has been closed for refurbishment since 2016. So the performance this year is entitled "Miyako Odori in Shunjuza" because it will take place in Kyoto’s Arts theater, "Shunjuza". This theater is run by Kyoto’s University of Art and Design and is located in Kitashirakawa, in Sakyo ward, Kyoto.
This year, the performances will take place from April 1-24, three times a day: 12.30pm, 2.20pm and 4.10pm. Show length: approximately 50 minutes.