29 April 2011

Nara Heijyo-kyo festival

Princess Heijyo-kyo, portrait
Nara 2011

#Nara was the former capital of Japan before it was moved to Kyoto in 794. This is also a beautiful and relaxing city full of historical treasures, less than an hour by train from Kyoto.
I took these pictures during Heijyo-kyo tenpyosai parade on April 29. This is a festival similar to Jidai Matsuri in Kyoto where the participants parade dressed in costumes from the Heijyo-kyo imperial court. This is so colorful and beautiful. All the participants were stunning and so easy going with the camera. I like their smile...and their hair style.

25 April 2011

Maiko Fumino

Maiko Fumino as Hikae
Kyoto 2011

This is my first post of Maiko Fumino. She looks like a doll. She always seems a bit shy and distant but was in the spotlight during Miyako Odori as Hikae in the tea ceremony held by Mamehana san. She is amazing in this colorful hikizuri and seems already so grown up compared to the below pictures at Miyabikai in July 2010 and Shigyoshiki in Jan 2011.

Maiko Fumino, Miyabikai
Kyoto 2010

Miyabikai is the event where Maiko from Gion Kobu go to Yasaka Shrine to pray to improve in their practice of arts. They all wear the same yukata without oshiroi (white make up).

Maiko Fumino and Maiko Ayano
Kyoto 2011

Maiko Fumino and Maiko Ayano at Shigyo-shiki in Jan 2011.

24 April 2011

Kamogawa Odori, rehearsal

Pontocho, Maiko after the rehearsal
Kyoto 2011

Pontocho is decorated with posters and lanterns announcing the spring dance performance Kamogawa odori May 1 - 24. Pontocho Kaburenjo (theater) is also beautifully decorated with lanterns covering the ceiling.

Lantern and Kamogawa odori poster
Kyoto 2011

All restaurants and shops in Pontocho are decorated with a lantern with a plover,  the symbol of Pontocho, as well as Kamogawa Odori poster that you can view on my previous post.

Maiko Mitsuna, portrait
Kyoto 2011

I was at the Kaburenjo "by chance" (^_-) after the rehearsal to make some portraits. I am grateful to Maiko Mitsuna for this photo. She always looks great. After a busy day preparing the performance, she is heading to her Okiya to get ready for the evening. All Maiko usually don't have much time to rest but they're always friendly and nice. I really admire them.

Maiko from Miyagawacho

Maiko Fukukimi, portrait
Kyoto 2011

After a busy month of April where the Maiko from Miyagawacho performed the dance of Kyo-Odori, they are now available again for other events, such as dance and Hikizuri presentation at the museum of fine arts (fureikan).

It's pretty obvious that no Maiko enjoys this presentation to a non-initiated audience. But people seems to enjoy to see them "for real".  Good to see Maiko Fukukimi and Fukusuzu. Fukukimi reminds me of Ayano (kobu).

Maiko Fukusuzu, portrait
Kyoto 2011

23 April 2011

Pontocho in May

 Kamogawa Odori May 1-24
 Pontocho, Kyoto 2011

After Kamishichiken in March, Miyagawacho and Gion-Kobu in April, Pontocho Hanamachi (Maiko district) also holds its Maiko and Geiko spring dance performance in May. This is called Kamogawa Odori, literally dance of Kamo river, in reference to the Kyoto main river which is parallel to Pontocho street. The above poster is hang on every restaurant and shop of Pontocho.

So in Kyoto in May, the action is in Pontocho because all the restaurants also open their outdoor sittings from up to September. Nothing better in the warm summer than to have dinner there and to get some fresh wind from Kamo river.

Building outdoor sittings in Pontocho restaurants
Kyoto 2011

21 April 2011

Miyako Odori - Mamehana san

Mamehana san, preparing Macha
Miyako Odori, Kyoto 2011

To get the privilege to have a Macha (green tea) prepared by Mamehana san before attending Miyako Odori (Gion Kobu spring dance performance), I had to book my ticket 3 months in advance and almost run to sit in the first rank.

I sat there and greet her. She certainly wanted to laugh when she saw me going straight right in front of her with a happy smile on my face. You are not supposed to greet, smile or show any expression when you hold a tea ceremony. So she could not return my greetings.

Her response was actually nicer. She knew I would be so happy to get such a picture of her. So she looked at me which was her way to greet me and thank me for coming. Wonderful, Mamehana san, I am so grateful to her.

Maiko Fumino brought me the Macha Mamehana san prepared. This day could not be better.

Mamehana san, portrait
Kyoto 2011

My previous posts about Mamehana san (wow, already so many) :

- Erikae
- Erikae 2nd post
- Last days as a Maiko
- Present
- Autumn
- Kotohajime
- Summer 2010

17 April 2011

Kyo Odori - Final

Kyo Odori, Final Hana Butai
Kyoto 2011

Today was already Kyo-Odori final day. Most probably this is the only picture you will see about this year spring dance performance in Miyagawacho. So, enjoy it!

 Maiko Fukuyu, portrait
 Miyagawacho Kaburenjo, Kyoto 2011

Before leaving, I congratulated Maiko Fukuyu who did the opening dance today. She kindly posed for this portrait.

15 April 2011

Cherry blossom - People

 To Tetsu gakku no michi
Kyoto 2011

Always a huge crowd to the path of philosophy (Tetsu gakku no michi) to enjoy the cherry blossom. No matter if you dress casual....

Or wear your nicest Kimono....

....you got to be there.....and be patient to get a nice spot on one of the bridges to take the best pictures, from the best angle etc....

And it's worth waiting because this is so beautiful. You don't want to miss it. Almost a 2km walk and it all looks like this.

14 April 2011

Cherry blossom at Nijo castle garden

Cherry Blossom, Nijo Castle garden
Kyoto 2011

There are so many places to enjoy the cherry blossom. Nijo castle has a popular garden with many pink trees. Sunset there is amazingly beautiful and all colors are brighter.

10 April 2011

Kyo Odori - Cherry blossom

Miyagawacho, lanterns & cherry blossom
Kyoto 2011

This is how Miyagawacho district looked like today. The lanterns announcing Kyo Odori and the cherry blossom.

Path to Miyagawacho Kaburenjo
Kyoto 2011

The path to the entrance of the Kaburenjo (theater) was also stunning. And the best was still to come: Kyo Odori dance performance.

Kyo Odori lantern, Machiya
Kyoto 2011

All the Machiya (Kyoto typical wooden houses) in Miyagawacho are currently decorated with lanterns and cherry flowers announcing the spring dance performance.

Maiko Fukuai, portrait at Miyagawacho Kaburenjo
Kyoto 2011

Unfortunately, this is now forbidden to take photos during the dance so I won't post any except this one of Maiko Fukuai collecting donation for the earthquake victims. She played Shamisen today at the final dance (Miyagawa Ondo) while 7 Maiko were opening the flower stage (hana butai) : Tanewaka, Kofuku, Fukusuzu, Kimiaya, Kimichie, Fumihana and Fukuyu.  So colorful, so beautiful.

The Kanzashi (hair ornament) in April is usually pink cherry flowers. We also see some like hers containing silver butterflies.

9 April 2011

Cherry blossom

Cherry blossom, path of philosophy
Kyoto 2011

Life goes on. Everyone is enjoying the cherry blossom now. These photos were shot today at Tetsugakku no michi (path of philosophy) where I go every year to take the same pictures and I never get enough.

2 April 2011

Donate for Japan

During the spring dance performance Maiko and Geiko are involved as well to collect donation for the people hit by March 11 earthquake / tsunami.

To all Japan lovers and Maiko fans, wherever you are you can contribute as well!

Maiko Manaha and Tsuruha
Kyoto 2011

If you couldn't donate to Maiko Tsuruha and Manaha on April 1 in Shinbashi...

Maiko Katsutomo
Kyoto 2011

or to Maiko Katsutomo at Miyako Odori on April 2....

Maiko Tanewaka
Kyoto 2011

or to Maiko Tanewaka at Kyo Odori on April 2...

You can still make a small contribution to one of the useful links below. Many people lost everything. Any help will be appreciated. Thanks !

Great Britain
Russia (Embassy)
Реквизиты для перечисления в рублях (for donation in rubles):
Получатель: Посольство Японии в России, ИНН 9909058036, КПП 773860001
Расчетный счет № 40807810900000000005 в ЗАО «Мидзухо Корпорэйт Банк (Москва)».
БИК 044525107, Кор.счет 30101810900000000107.
Для юридических лиц-резидентов в графе «Назначение платежа» необходимо указать : «{VO70040} Благотворительное пожертвование» (для нерезидентов - код {VO60070})