Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Kyoto's Gion - The Fine Arts of Japan

Kyoto is more than just temples and shrines. For a taste of Japan's fine arts, we visited Gion. Here, we walked the old part of Gion, Shijo-dori in the early evening, hoping to catch a glimpse of a geisha on the way to work.

At Hanami-koji we saw three ladies in kimonos but soon realized that they were "tourist geishas", tourists who have paid to be made up as a geisha, or in this case, just dressed in a kimono.

However, we later spotted a real geisha hurrying to work. Notice how beautiful and intricate her kimono is compared to the tourist geishas' kimonos. We could not resist taking a photograph of the geisha, from a respectful distance. After all, who would want to be mobbed by tourist paparazis on the way to work? So, if you do go to Gion, please respect the geishas and do not hound them for photographs. Just observe and photograph from a distance.

We even saw a male geisha...Actually, we saw a poster advertising a performance (we think...the words were all in Japanese...). Next to the picture of the geisha was a head-shot of a dashing young man. So we figured it must be a male impersonating a geisha performance???

Later that night, we went to Gion Corner Theatre at Yasaka Hall in Shijo Sagaru to catch a one-hour performance of seven traditional arts of Kyoto. These include:
1)Japanese harp (Koto)

2) Tea ceremony

3) Floral arrangement

4) Gagaku Imperial Court music

5) Kyogen classical comedy

6) Kyomai dance

7)Bunraku puppet show

Whilst we may not have understood the finer nuances of all the performances, we definitely appreciated the glimpse to a tradition that is not our own.


Aileen said...

I'm afraid that's not a male geisha in the poster, he's an onnagata. In kabuki, men play all the female roles. In that particular performance, he's playing an oiran (a high-class prostitute.)


Are you in Japan at the moment?
I wanted to say a big thank you for all your lovely comments about our Jazz.

Muza-chan said...

At Gion Corner Theatre it is allowed taking photos?