Miyagawa-cho (宮川町)

Miyagawa-cho is located in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto City. Miyagawa-suji 2-chome to 6-chome comprises the area's red-light district.

Miyagawa-cho started during the Kabuki Odori Dance era (these performances were the real start of kabuki and were comprised of vivacious dancing and joyous songs combined with amusing stories) of IZUMO no Okuni, and was first a red-light district called "kagema" (male geisha) because playhouses for Wakashu Kabuki (young men's Kabuki) and chaya (literally "teahouse" which refers to places where geisha entertain their guests) stood side by side, where male teenagers entertained guests. Eventually the form was changed, and official approval was given in the Horeki era. Throughout the Meiji period, the Taisho period and up to the enforcement of the Anti-Prostitution Law on March 15, 1958, Miyagawa-cho was labeled a yukaku (a red-light district); buildings from the yukaku era still remain intact. Nowadays, the former red-light district houses only geigi (a woman who gives fun with singing, dancing or playing musical instruments), and "Kyo Odori" (Kyo Dance) is performed every spring. There are more than 20 maiko (apprentice geisha) in Miyagawa-cho a number which is second largest only to that of the Gion Kobu district. The school of dance used to be the Umemoto school; however, the main school is now the Wakayagi school.

In 2003, three geisha girls in Miyagawa-cho, Fukuha (chairperson of Miyagawa-cho Geisha Association), Kiminao and Chizuru, became the first natori (diploma holder in Japanese dance) of Wakayagi school in Miyagawa-cho.

In 2006, "Mizue kai," a dance performance by geisha, which was not performed due to the Kabu-renjo Theater undergoing renovations was revived for the first time in thirty one years.

Education and practice
For details, refer to the article, "Higashiyama Women's College."

[Original Japanese]