Miyako Odori (都をどり)

"Miyako Odori" is a dance performance of the Gion Kobu district held in April at the Gion Kobu Kabu-renjo Theater.

It started when it was performed by way of entertainment for an exhibition in 1872, and Masanao MAKIMURA, a governor of Kyoto Prefecture in those days, wrote lyrics and Yachiyo INOUE, Inoue school Iemoto (grand master) (the third Haruko KATAYAMA) choreographed the dance, referring to Iseno kamenoko-odori dance. There were two passages on both sides of the audience to the stage on both sides, which were innovative and a bit different from former stages, and the appearance of dancers wearing the same costumes from the passage surprised the audience. Since then, Miyako Odori has been performed devising new plans associated with the Oriental Zodiac or topics of the year, as well as following the style since Meiji Period based on kabuki (Japanese classical drama) or the Tale of the Genji. This form gives a hint for "Kamenoko-Odori Dance" performed in the red-light district of Isefuruichi.

Chronological table

1872: Miyako Odori was premiered.

1915: There was a performance commemorating the accession of Emperor Taisho.

1928: There was a performance commemorating the accession of Emperor Showa.

From 1944 to 1949: It had been suspended because of World War II.

1950: It reopened at Minami-za Theater.

1964: There was a performance commemorating the Tokyo Olympic Games.

1994: There was a performance commemorating the 1200th anniversary of the transfer of the national capital to Kyoto.

2004: The fourth Yachiyo INOUE (real name was Aiko KATAYAMA) died.


Miyako Odori basically has adopted the style where all performers dance together while introducing famous spots in Kyoto with a long epic song to the accompaniment of a shamisen, following the same style since the Meiji Period. The first scene was performed on the stage where a Gin busuma (a sliding screen put on silver foil) was set up, based upon the historical event of the Inoue school. A scene called "Betsu-odori Dance (another dance) " inserted in the middle was added since the Emperor Taisho enthronement commemorative performance, and contents were also increased to explain the story based upon the subjects mainly from Kabuki, literature and anecdotes while dancing for 10 minutes. The writers of Miyako Odori produced new stories every year with nervous mannerism and had repeat meetings about choreography, music and art to prepare the next spring's performance.

Tea ceremony

Before the performance, a tea-ceremony is held on the second floor of the Gion Kobu Kabu-renjo. The geisha who is in charge of boiling tea in shifts dresses Kyoto-style Shimada with her own hair and appears with the full dress figure of a black crested haori (kimono) with a reversed neckline. A maiko is in charge of the reserve. A maiko or a tayu (leading actor) in the Kobu district in those days was in charge of boiling tea depending on the times, or some geishas prepared tea as time went by. In addition, the reserve maiko was often alone, but there were times when two maiko were reserved.

The style of boiling tea was not done in a conventional form, but in the style of 'Ritsurei shiki (standing up and bowing),' which was devised by Urasenke school to attend to foreigners and was done outdoors at first.

Since Kabu-renjo Theater was completed, Miyako Odori was moved there and has been performed at the present location.

Successive subjects of songs
1872 - 1899

[Original Japanese]