Friday, October 8, 2010

Gion Odori : Act 4 and 5... Of Pride and Eating Flowers

1st Nov, 2006 - Well, I guess after my efforts describing the previous dance - which were just a little on the sarcastic side - I'll try and do this one a bit more justice. Though as you'll see it really is screaming out for the treatment as well.

ACT FOUR - TENGU  OF ATAGO (第四景  愛宕の天狗)

This dance is a little difficult to describe - however, I'll give a little history first. Tengu are mythical creatures that are a strange amalgm of human-shaped monster and bird. They are most famously depicted with red faces and long, long noses (check out the first photo above). The legend is that they are able to fly, and this has been  modified in some versions whereby they hold a magical hauchiwa, or fan made of feathers which have the properties of growing (and shrinking) the size of the nose... clearly a good ability for a Tengu... and also raising huge winds. I assume that flying is part of that as well.

Atago is a mountain near Kyōto, and is famous for a particular Tengu named Tarōbō - the first great Tengu. However, Atago is also believed to have a general concentration of Tengu, as it appears in many Japanese folk tales.

This dance focuses on one of the Tengu, proud and strong - and a rather crusty lady who has plans for that fan of his. Firstly Tengu espies what he thinks a young beautiful lady.

But not all is as it seems....

See the following short vid (once again, appologies about the quality).

In the end, the old lady makes use of the momentary disorientation (maybe even a change-the-pants moment) to do a now-ya-have-it-now-ya-don't trick with the Tengu's magical fan. Fooled again! I suppose there's a lesson here for the conceited and proud out there... don't try and pick up old ladies! To be honest, we can't remember the reason why the fan was so important, but at the end of the day - why let details get in the way of a good story.

ACT FIVE - MOTTENOHOKA (第五景  もってのほか)

The fifth dance of the show was the most abstract, and in many ways most beautiful... like moments come to life out of a painting. The entire dance was based around the Chrysanthemum flower. But here we have the mystery... mottenohoka means "out of the question"... and both T-chan and I now sit here and ponder... what the hell does that mean?....

The flower's supposedly known for the fact that it is edible... but alas, there was no flower eating during the show. Instead I will show you a series of photos taken during the dance (no video - and no story).

My only guess...if you could call it that... is that the dance surrounds the whole question of to eat, or not to eat the flower. The answer is... apparently... out of the question.

But how about eating a fan then?...

Looks like she'll just have to find some a Mister Donuts like the rest of us...

It was definitely the most artistic of the dances - with only the one solitary dancer - and the Chrysanthemum (and fan). I'm not sure now why we didn't take a video of it. Perhaps because this dance was so much more subdued than the others. Kinda regret it now... ?:-(

By the way - the Chrysanthemum is not only the Imperial symbol (aka the Chrysanthemum Throne) - but is also the symbolic gift for Mother's Day in my first home, Australia. What about elsewhere in the world?
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