Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gion Odori - Act 2 and 3 : Of Rice and Love

1st November, 2006 - This is the second post on the Gion Odori dance. By now things were in full swing, and it is hard to take photos when you're enjoying a show. Ever the dilemma - do you record for posterity, or just sit back and relax and take it all in. Still, we managed to take at least a few photos along the way. It should be noted that Gion Odori has, with the exception of the last dance, a different program each year. The one thing that is always written about the Gion Odori is the originality of the dance routines each year. Alas I have only one year to go by, but yes it felt original.

ACT 2 - OKOME (第二景 稲穂)
Okome is the Japanese term for uncooked rice. This whole performance is about the shinto rites blessing the growing of rice - of course rice is an important component of life in Japan (it's called gohan when it's cooked, which is also synonymous with the more general word for meal). This is a dance celebrating early spring.

There was a directness, and seriousness that really made for an interesting dance here. It's not the first thing I would have thought of when thinking "Geisha dances".

I have to admit that I get a little confused here... as the theme is all about hanakanzahsi... but the main ornament here appears to be the shinto inspired boushi. From what I understand, thanks to Melissa Chasse's great work is that maiko wear stalks of rice in their hair at the beginning of the year.

Hmmm did I mention the "double trouble" aspect of it. Synchronised shinto. Now why hasn't that taken on?

Actually when I first saw this, I had assumed that the stray locks were just coincidental... it wasn't until I had seen both in the photos that I realised that it was intentional. Actually, it was most probably better when it wasn't part of the costume design.


This was a somewhat melancholy piece - with the name coming from the weeping sakura tree (or cherry tree... though they don't have anything to do with cherries that we eat, though they come from the same prunus genus... ok too botanical I know). It's the story of an older woman (hmm - I bet casting for that was a joy) waiting her lover...

Waiting... waiting.... man'o'man! I'm sure I left him somewhere around here...now what did he look like?...

Hmm.... shouldn't have had that extra 10 gyoza for dinner....

Errr... that last bottle of sake isn't going down too well either....

Ah... I know.. a little light reading will help... a letter from my lover. That will give me time for the alka-seltzer to kick in. For crying out loud this guy can write... blah blah blah...

Seriously, my arms are getting tired... you mean I have to wait hundreds of years before Twitter will come to my rescue with a 140 character limit!... now where was I?... that's right... "your eyes shine with the moon's soft remembered light, in the dark your smile a memory o light... oh, and could ya please buy some milk and bread on your way home, and did I mention the guys were thinking of having a night out this Saturday....."

At times like these - a sister needs her sister. Younger sister that is. "Sis... hold this will ya... ?"

"Did he say he was going out this saturday... I told him we had plans for this Saturday...oh, he's going to pay... big time" Even in olden times revenge was a dish served cold. Unless of course it was a dish of firey stick-it-up-ya-... well you know...

It's times like these that an elder sister needs to impart some sage advice. "Next time... bring your own lamp...".  Ah, it truly left me warm inside.

Alas... the lot of a younger sister is to forever suffer the slings and arrows of her big sister... "It's most probably a good thing that I didn't mention the other night when I bumped into her boyfriend at the club...."

Ok... I might not have gotten my interpretation exactly right... but I'm pretty sure it's captured the essence of the dance. For more info... check out the bad video below.

And by the way... if I haven't mentioned it before... I have to thank my wife T-chan for taking such wonderful photos... my hands are too crazy shaky to take decent photos in this light. Thanks T-chan... I luvs ya! PS... could you please buy some parmesan on your way home from Zumba tonight....

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  1. Great Photos! Sometimes it's hard to remember to take photos when you are enjoying something but I'm glad that you have these to share. Thanks :)

  2. Thnx Carla... yeah, I often end up kicking myself after-the-event when I realise I hadn't taken any photos of something.

    Nowadays though - I most probably have the opposite problem... tend to want to take photos of everything, and then get the double whammy of (1) missing out on really enjoying things for themselves, and (2) having to do something about GB of digital photos.