Almost at the same time with beginning of May, the Kamogawa Odori（dance festival）is hold in Kaburenjo Theater,Ponto-cho.
This flower town is located in the area which is very close to the Minami-za (Kabuki theater in Shijo), Kyoto and it has a strong relationship with stage actors.
Cars can hardly get into the streets of this town. This is where maiko and geiko come and go. There is a profound atmosphere and you’ll have great opportunity to encounter them by chance.
In this month, maiko wear light kimono and their kanzashi (ornamental hairpins) change from cherry blossoms of spring to wisteria flowers of early summer. This is the time when you can feel the refreshing growth of fresh green buds.
There will be some events called “Ashi-Arai” in flower towns which held spring dance festival in March and April.
It is a kind of ‘thank-you’ party taken place between maiko, geiko and their customers. It is in a form of dinner party or short trip… anyway, anyhow, that is a moment they can really relax.
And finally, there is “Yuka-Biraki” at open wooden balconies in restaurants along the Kamo River. If you stand on the Shijo Ohashi Bridge or the Sanjo Ohashi Bridge, you’ll see maiko and geiko enjoying dinner with customers or showing a graceful dance there.
Highlight events in Hanamachi,May
●The 1st ~24th
The Kamogawa Dance Festival at Pontocho Kaburen Theater
The Eve of Kanki Inari Shrine Annual Festival at Kanki Inari Shrine
The Kanki Inari Shrine Annual Festival at Kanki Inari Shrine
Events in Kyoto,May
●From the 1st
Balconies open over the banks of Kamo River
at the west bank of Kamo River
●The 1st ~4th
Senbon Yenmado prayer kyogen drama
at Senbon Yenmado Hall
Shinsen-en prayer kyogen drama at Shinsen-en
Yabusame (horseback archery) at Shimogamo Shrine
The Fujimori Festival at Fujimori Shrine
The Aoi Festival at Kamigamo Shrine and Shimogamo Shrine
The Mifune Festival at Kurumazaki Shrine
The Aoi Festival
Speaking of May in Kyoto, the Aoi Festival should not be ignored. It is the old and famous festival and one of the three major festivals of Kyoto, along with the Gion Festival and the Jidai Festival.
The Aoi Festival is held on the 15th but a string of ceremonies is held ahead of the festival day. These ceremonies are based on customs and traditions.
People are most interested in the news of the Saio-Dai, a heroine of the festival. When the time of selection is coming close, people always talk “Who will be the one this year?” There is no public audition, she is usually selected from daughters of old families in Kyoto.
The heroine wears Jyuni-Hitoe, a ceremonial robe of Japanese court lady.
Shironuri, the white make-up is done on her face with her teeth blackened with warmed wax. This is known as ohaguro.
It is said to be personal grooming for ladies in old times, but there are various theories about it. Depending on different eras, it means that one’s daughter come of age, custom for young wives and so on.
Maiko wear ohaguro as well when she does her hair in sakko style. It is when a debut day as geiko (mature geisha) is officially decided.
As ohaguro is easily affected by heat, maiko tend to avoid hot food and drinks while they wear it. The procession of this festival is full of color and so luxurious because of the costume.
By the way, this year’s lucky girl was a daughter from a family that runs kimono shop with 430 years of history!
Here is a schedule for this festival, 2012
●Yabusame or horseback archery
13:00 -15:30, the 3rd Shimogamo Shrine
11:00 -, the 5th at Shimogamo Shrine
●The Mikage Festival
9:00 -, the 12th, at Shimogamo Shrine and Kamigamo Shrine (Ritual dance is performed)
●The Aoi Festival
The ceremony in the court, the ceremony on the street, and the ceremony at the shrine from 10:30 the 15th The Imperial Palace→Simogamo Shrine →Kamigamo Shrine
Photos：Copyright(c)2012 Geisha Japan All Rights Reserved
Special Thanks to： WALKKYOTO（some images on this article are provided by http://walkkyoto.exblog.jp/i30/）