Kamigatamai (上方舞)

Kamigatamai is a type of Japanese dance that emerged in Kyoto from 1800, in the middle of the Edo period, to the end of the Edo period. Kamigatamai is based on suodori (dance without costume and hairpieces), in which dancers are dressed casually in kimono and dance in a zashiki (Japanese style tatami room) with folding screens. Kamigatamai originated in gotenmai (a kind of traditional Japanese dance) and static dance based on noh-type dancing, with added elements of Kabuki (traditional drama performed by male actors) and ningyo joruri (traditional Japanese puppet theater); the dance is performed in a tranquil manner with an emphasis on inner expression. Compared to dances in kabuki, kamigatamai is more simple and abstract. Kamigatamai is also called jiuta mai because it is performed to the accompaniment of jiuta (country songs of Kyoto and Osaka regions). In kamigatamai, the Inoue and Shinozuka Schools, developed in Kyoto, are specifically called Kyomai (Kyoto dance).

Kamigatamai Types of Production

Hongyomono (high-toned performance)

Productions borrowed from the nogaku (the art of Noh), having elegance and dignity, include:
"Aoi no ue" (Lady Aoi)

Tsuyamono (love story)

Works that have an amorous atmosphere of female dance, include:
"Yuki" (snow)

Shibaimono (literally, theatrical entertainment)

Productions in which kabuki dances are incorporated into kamigatamai, include:
"Edo miyage" (gift from Edo) and "Kanega misaki" (Kanega-misaki cape)


Productions that are witty and humorous, include:
"Wasure Shoga (forgotten songs)) and "Sangokuichi" (best of the world)

Kamigatamai Schools

Shinozuka School

The oldest school of kyomai, was established from 1804 to 1830 by Bunzaburo SHINOZUKA, a choreographer of kabuki shosagoto (kabuki drama).

Yamamura School

A school established in 1806, the later Edo period, by Yugoro YAMAMURA, a choreographer of kamigata kabuki (kabuki of Kyoto and Osaka region), who worked with Utaemon NAKAMURA the third, dominating the world of kamigata dance at that time. The school became very popular because the elegant dance style was preferred by merchant families who wanted to have their children learn the dance.

Umemoto School

A school created by Sensho UMEMOTO in 1841.

Inoue School

A school created by Sato INOUE at the end of the Edo period. A school of geigi (a woman who gives fun with a song, a dance or a music instrument at a feast) and maiko (apprentice geisha (Japanese professional female entertainer at drinking party in Edo)) in Gion Kobu region. The school is famous for Miyako Odori (dance performance held in April by geisha and maiko in Kyoto's Gion region). Yachiyo INOUE the fourth: Yachiyo INOUE was one of the best dancers of the age and was certified as the holder of an Important Intangible Cultural Property (also called "Living National Treasure," certified by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology).

Yoshimura School

The School originated in gotenmai, a traditional Japanese dance style developed by kyogen (farce played during a No play cycle) performers who served at the Imperial Palace in Kyoto at the end of the Edo period, and was established in early Meiji period by Fuji YOSHIMURA. Yuki YOSHIMURA the fourth was certified as the holder of an Important Intangible Cultural Property as well as being awarded with the title of a Person of Cultural Merit.

[Original Japanese]