Azuma Odori Online
Azuma Odori is usually held every year in May. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was cancelled in 2020. In 2021, it was resumed but held on October 27th and 28th as a mix of video and live performance. This new online-video version adds previously unseen scenes as well as the live performance finale held at the Shinbashi Enbujo Theater. We hope that this video will be enjoyed by many people all around the world.
Director Onoe Kikunojo
The video performance was directed by Onoe Kikunojo, the head (iemoto) of the Onoe school. He has supervised choreographies for many Kabuki performances and Takarazuka Revues. Please enjoy the beauty of the performance created by his aesthetic sense and the four seasons of the Shinbashi Geisha District.
National-treasure level artworks
In the hatsuharu video, geisha perform a dance in the largest hall of the ryotei restaurant “Shinkiraku”, which was designed by Yoshida Isoya, a master of the sukiya style (style of architecture). The hall prominently features a golden folding screen.
During one performance the whole room is covered in hundreds of irises.
The background of the hagoromo video is decorated by 22 sliding door paintings titled Fuji and the Hakone Mountain Range. This is the first time ever they are revealed to the public. They were painted by Yokoyama Taikan, after he spent three months in the ryotei restaurant “Kanetanaka”.
There are even more art works which will be revealed for the first time during this show, such as the twin paintings of red and white plum blossoms created by Yamaguchi Hoshun and Fukuda Heihachiro.
Greeting for the completion of the online-video version
Greeting for the completion of the online-video version
In the autumn of 2021, the 96th Azuma Odori dance performance was held at Shinbashi Enbujo Theater. The eight shows over two days consisted of video performances in the first half and a live performance during the final dance. This video combines all of these. On New Year’s Day of the previous year, Shinbashi was filled with an atmosphere of expectant hospitality for the guests visiting from overseas for the summer Olympics in Tokyo. A short time later, the coronavirus pandemic, which began with an incident on the other side of the river, changed this in an instant. The lights of the Shinbashi Geisha District went out and the Azuma Odori in May 2020 was cancelled. In 2021, considering the situation, we opted to do a video show instead. We decided to use the beautiful Shinbashi Geisha District as our backdrop. After many hurdles, we finally completed the video version of Azuma Odori. I would like to express my gratitude to Onoe Kikunojo, who created these beautiful images, the teachers of our town who supported us, the many people involved in the production, and above all, you who are watching our show.
President of the Tokyo Shinbashi Union
Greetings - Onoe Kikunojo
This Azuma Odori is the first video produced by the Shinbashi Geisha district. It was filmed in two ryotei restaurants (traditional Japanese restaurant) in Shinbashi. The ozashiki (banquet with geisha in ryotei restaurant) atmosphere is enhanced by hanging scrolls, flowers, ceramics, and sliding door paintings. You can observe the passing of the seasons in Shinbashi as well as the geisha’s performances. The original idea of Azuma Odori was to fully simulate the exclusive ozashiki experience in a theater. Similarly, I hope you can fully enjoy the geisha experience via this ultimate online performance.
the fourth head (iemoto) of Onoe style
1. Four Seasons of Shinbashi / Video
Directing & Choreography: Onoe Kikunojo, Nishikawa Sakon, Hanayagi Jusuke
– the New Year : hatsuharu ~ yakkosan ~ shishiwa ~ kappore
– Spring : harugasumi
– Summer : ayame yukata / yagibushi
– Autumn : karigane
– Winter : hagoromo
2. Finale / Live-Event at the Shinbashi Enbujo Theater in Tokyo
Directing: Onoe Kikunojo
Choreography: Nishikawa Koisaburo
Hatsuharu ~ Yakkosan ~ Shishiwa ~ Kappore
All the young geisha will perform hatsuharu, a classic New Year’s performance. This will be followed by performance of the traditional pieces yakkosan, shishiwa and kappore by more experienced geisha. The performance will be held in the ryotei restaurant “Shinkiraku” and will be as spectacular as if all of the performers of Shinbashi were dancing at once.
Room description: A new sukiya style hall, designed by Yoshida Isoya, featuring a golden folding screen.
Sukeroku, the most handsome man in Edo (now Tokyo), is a popular role in Kabuki. Both he and his lover Agemaki are played by geisha. This ko-uta song is performed in ozashiki. Please enjoy this mix of delicacy, elegance, and eroticism which only geisha can offer. This is an adaptation of common Kabuki play.
Room description: The stage is decorated by the “korin no matsu” stage curtain, which dates back to the late Meiji era. The image was hand embroidered on white crepe.
This is a song with an early summer feel. A stylish chief firefighter (tobigashira) dances accompanied by two geisha. This time, the tatami room in the ryotei restaurant “Shinkiraku” is decorated with fresh irises, giving it a luxurious feel.
Room description: The tatami room is decorated with green bamboo and irises. The walls are decorated with swallows, which were created by Japan’s first stained glass artist, Ogawa Sanchi.
This folk song, originating from the northern Kanto region, has become popular throughout all of Japan and is often performed in the ryotei restaurant “Kanetanaka”. The lyrics of this performance are from a distinctive Shinbashi version, which was first presented at the 89th Azuma Odori. It is a dance competition between a chief firefighter (tobigashira) and a geisha.
This piece belongs to a certain style of Kabuki background music (yosogoto joruri). It has also been performed as a dance with various choreographies. In this version we perform outdoors in the garden of a ryotei restaurant. Please enjoy the beauty of the scenery and the pure atmosphere of the moon in early autumn.
Room description: The hanging scroll by Takeuchi Seiho is titled Autumn Leaves. It belongs to a set of three hanging scrolls. The other two are titled Sunrise and Cherry Blossoms. Takeuchi painted Cherry Blossoms in spring, Autumn Leaves in autumn, and Sunrise on New Year’s Day, seasons and dates of special significance to Japanese people.
It is still snowing, and the red and white plum blossoms are beginning to fade. The main characters are heron spirit who take human form through the power of their love. As their feelings for each other grow stronger, their costumes and dance become more elaborate. In this version the dance is performed in the Onoe and Hanayagi style. Please enjoy the two heron girls’ dance.
Room description: The hanging scrolls are titled Red Plum by Yamaguchi Hoshun and White Plum by Fukuda Heihachiro. This is a pair of hanging scrolls with the same dimensions and same binding. These two leading artists competed in the creation of harmony. The red and white plum blossoms show a serious playfulness.
This piece is based on a Noh play. The celestial maiden returns a robe and performs a dance to thank the gods. Then she soars up to the sky. In front of a sliding door painting by Yokoyama Taikan titled Fuji and Sea of Clouds. Please look forward to the celestial maiden soaring up to the sky.
Room description: The 22 sliding door paintings are titled Fuji and the Hakone Mountain Range and the hanging scroll is titled Sunrise. They were all painted by Yokoyama Taikan over a period of three months at the ryotei restaurant “Kanetanaka”. The hall is decorated in this style only during the New Year’s holidays. Even if the weather is bad, if you come to Kanetanaka to welcome the new year, you will be able to see Mount Fuji and the first sunrise from above the clouds.
Finale – Sawagi
Sawagi is one of the most famous songs played by geisha. The melody is full of energy, bright and euphoric, with a powerful rhythm that makes the audience want to dance. The lyrics as well as the singing style differ for each geisha district. Azuma Odori always ends with sawagi which attracts a large audience.
About Azuma Odori – Japanese Geisha Dance Festival in Tokyo
History of Azuma Odori and Shinbashi
Difference between Geisha and Maiko