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  • Beniko

8. Spring Dance Performance

Once cherry blossoms on Kawabata (川端) street or in Maruyama (円山) park are starting to bloom, Kyoto gets very busy and crowded with a lot of sightseers. Well, it’s the beginning of Spring Dance performance season.

Since I went to the high school in the middle of Hanamachi (花街, Maiko and Geiko district), many of my classmates were absent from the class in this season. When our teacher checked the attendance, we had such conversations:

“Miss. XXX.”

“She’s out for Miyako Odori (都踊り) performance”

“OK, then, Miss XXXX”

“She's also out for Kyomai (京舞) performance.“

"I knew it”

Even Shikomi-san (仕込みさん, Maiko trainees) were allocated the role of Ohikae (お控え, tea serving assistant) at tea ceremonies, many absence were quite usual in April.

Geiko (芸妓) are busy even more in this season. Since multiple roles are allocated to one Geiko in the performance, she needs to change costumes and makeups as the segment changes. Their costumes need to be changed while Kaoshi (顔師, makeup artist) is doing the makeup.

In the performance, Maiko have their turn only twice (one segment plus grand-finale) in a regular costume, however, Maiko are occupied with many other tasks such as greeting frequent customers at the auditorium seats, or taking care of their Oneisan (お姉さん, mentor Geiko). I remember that there never was a time for a break.

After the final performance on the closing day, the neighborhood of the Kaburenjyo (歌舞練場) theater in Hanamachi gets more bustled with many people. Geiko would dash out from the dressing room right after the performance in order to get ready for the Ozashiki (お座敷, Maiko and Geiko banquet) at night. Some customers would enjoy coffee with Okasan (お母さん, female owner of Maiko house). Shikomi-san would carry the belongings of their Oneisan from the dressing room to the tea house. Busy!

One of my precious memories of Spring Dance performance is the time I was called to a Ozashiki by a first-time client. He saw me at the dance performance and made a request to come. My Okasan said she was very proud of me and I felt so grateful.

Thank you so much. See you soon!



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