August 12, 2016

The Awa Dance Festival is held as part of the Obon Festival in Japan. Awa Dance is the largest dance festival in Japan, attracting over 1.3 million tourists every year.

Groups of choreographed dancers and musicians known as ren dance through the streets, typically accompanied by the shamisen lute, taiko drums, shinobue flute and the kane bell. Performers wear traditional obon dance costumes, and chant and sing as they parade through the streets.

You can read more about it here! ~ x

August 2016: Senior Geiko Tsunekazu (Shigenoya Okiya) of Gion Higashi playing the shamisen.

Tsunekazu-san is the oldest Geiko of Gion Higashi and a Natori Geiko, a accredited master in dancing, and performs a big role at the Gion Odori every year.

She is one of the most well known senior Geiko of all of Kyoto’s five hanamachi.

Source: Hiseong Kim on Instagram

a big small announcement - KIMONO & SHAMISEN

I’ve recently chosen a vegan lifestyle, so I’ll be getting rid of my silk and wool kimono & obi, one pair of pink zôri, and even my shamisen. I don’t have a good space/way to display my kimono right now, so I’m only posting this as a heads-up until I get some decent photos and take measurements. And I’m not sure the best way to go about listing them for sale, so once I figure that out I’ll have more details. 

I’m also open to trades for cotton and synthetic kimono, geta/zôri, and other Japanese items (I really need a new teapot, mine disappeared), so if you’d like a peek at some of my pieces feel free to send me a message! My collection is made up of mostly komon and tsukesage, and a couple hômongi.


Preview screening of Universal Pictures, “Kubo and the two strings”. 3D animation movie for children. Kubo is a Japanese boy who plays shamisen (Japanese traditional musical instrument) and control origami like magic. 

I did a short origami demonstration there. It was good to meet many children who came and showed me their origami samurai hats.

August 2016: Famous Geiko Kofuku (Shigemori Okiya) of Miyagawacho playing the shamisen and singing at an ozashiki.

Miyagawacho’s Maiko and Geiko are very proud of the fact that they learn as many arts as possible, even in the very early stages of their careers, while in other hanamachi, Maiko focus more on dancing and less on singing and learning to play instruments until they become fully-fledged Geiko.

In hanamachi like Gion Kobu or Kamishichiken, there is a clear distinction made between tachikata (dancers) and jikata (musicians) Geiko, but in Miyagawacho and Pontocho, there usually is no clear distinction made and most Geiko are able to act as both, a jikata or a tachikata, on request.

Source: よーこ on Instagram


FOGHORN FUJIKO – A Friendly Geisha Pretends to be a Blind Itinerant Minstrel by Okinawa Soba

<br /><i>Via Flickr:</i>
<br />♫  ♪  <i>Plinkety-plunk, Plinkety-plink TWANG...plinkety-plankety-plunk...TWANG..</i>. ♪  ♫

MISS FOGHORN FUJIKO (Okinawa Soba’s pet name for these girls) was a popular real-life occupation for many Japanese studio photographers to “capture” during the19th Century. I have seen at least three or four Geisha playing the part of a Blind Female Beggar, including TOKIMATSU, the “Smiling Geisha”.

Called Gozenobo in Japanese, these women are now a thing of the past.

“..…The last important active goze, Haru Kobayashi (小林ハル), died in 2005, at age 105...”

Although these old photos are nice to look at, there’s really some interesting things to learn about the many women the Geisha in the photo is representing :






anonymous asked:

If you got to meet Kubo, what would you do?

I would scoop him up like the little peanut he is and beg him to take me on some fun adventures! Oh, and I want to see him bring origami to life with his sweet shamisen tunes! :D


Aries: Una marcha militar, enérgica, contundente.

Tauro: Suena el bajo, batería de jazz. Todo muy elegante.

Géminis: Una flauta traviesa (que no travesera), haciendo escalas pa’rriba y pa’bajo.

Cáncer: Un vocalista, “a capella”, desplegando emoción y sentimiento.

Leo: Trompetas y más trompetas, como en una película de romanos.

Virgo: Sonido tranquilo de arpa celta.

Libra: Un elegante preludio de Chopin.

Escorpio: Sin duda, un sexy saxofón.

Sagitario: Gaitas y sonidos étnicos.

Capricornio: Secuencia de campanazos serios y ordenados.

Acuario: Un sintetizador al estilo de Jean Michel Jarre.

Piscis: Sonidos orientales que inviten a perderse en la mente, como los del sitar o el shamisen.



Before the shamisen player can make any other statements, the floor drops out from under them. And perhaps, for a moment, you can think that’s it. That’s how they die– as quick and easy and simple to explain away as them disappearing. Out of sight and out of mind, like an actor leaving a stage.

Fate, of course, is not so kind. A set of screens appear from the floor. At first, you see nothing but black, and all you can hear is labored breathing. But then a set of torches flicker to life, one after the other, in rows of two, illuminating a walkway– and then a stage, and then a backdrop of a shrine surrounded by pine trees.

(Perhaps the acting comparison was a little too appropriate– this is a kabuki stage.)

Kohaku sits center stage, a pained expression on their face, suggesting their landing may have been less than graceful. They pick themself up, dusting off their clothes, and the music begins. The slow, droning twangs of the futozao shamisen, and the chanting of the narrators sets the stage. The village has been terrorized by a mysterious evil spirit. All who attempted to investigate turned up dead, the life wrung out of them and their corpses always missing at least one organ.

And so you can see Kohaku’s expression freeze, their entire body locking up.

Fear turns to confusion as a new set of actors enter from the wings. Confusion becomes recognition– even under the heavy makeup typical to kabuki theater, they seem to know who these people are. With a set of familiar faces, you might expect them to be relieved. Instead, there’s nothing but disgust in their eyes. They bristle, baring their teeth and balling up their fists, but stay frozen in place, indecision holding them fast.

In stark contrast, the eldest man in the group of four steps up, dancing gracefully as the narration carries on. He brings news to the priests– he knows the identity of the malevolent being terrorizing their home. His hand traces an arc downwards to Kohaku– for his own child is a victim of possession. The other actors snap into action, pulling out clubs.

(The traditional method of exorcism for fox possession was to beat the afflicted until the spirit left, after all.)

They back up– and you can’t help but notice their makeup is back in place, the whiskers and all. Their foot knocks a torch, off onto where the audience should be, but instead there’s nothing but black. It falls, its light growing dimmer and dimmer, until it’s swallowed up entirely. You never hear a noise.

With the actors blocking their exit, there’s only one place to go. Onto the hanamichi they run, praying for a way out. But if there was one, it’s soon closed off too. A girl with black hair and a shrine maiden’s vestements enters, the torches flickering with each step she makes, in time with the music. Wavering, then licking upwards, then back again, its light catching a peculiar sheen on the stage. It’s almost hypnotic– and if that wasn’t enough to draw you in, her dance is. Each movement purposeful and measured and practiced, her skill is undeniable.

(Then again, you have to wonder if she really belongs here– kabuki actresses are quite rare.)

Kohaku’s mouth opens, and they stammer. “Wait, you– you have to help me, please, he’s–”

She continues on, ignoring his breaking of character by speaking. The flames grow to a roar, and one catches the edge of the hanamichi. With a whoosh the ember that landed grows into a tower of flame, fed by the kerosene left on it. The other end of the hanamichi follows suit. There’s no way out.

You can see the beginning of tears on their eyes, and a sheen of sweat over their skin from the heat of the inferno. Yet the actress remains pristine, and in the light of the fire she looks almost ethereal. The narration continues on. For a child who’d been possessed since birth by something so wicked, there surely was only one release.


You hear a hiss of air– it’s probably fortunate there’s no way to smell what’s going on, because it would have been rather pungent, a spray of gasoline. The second benefit is that you don’t have to smell burning flesh as the fire explodes into a rolling flashover.

The screen goes dark. When you next see it, there’s a celebration, in memory of the shrine maiden who sacrificed her life to defeat the nogitsune menace. The kuroko dutifully clean up the ashes, and finally, all fades to black.

Fire, too, was an acceptable way to end possession.

Kohaku Hayashi, SHSL Shamisen Player, has been executed.

[art credit to gwyn!]

alright my thoughts on kubo:

amazing movie. visually stunning, beautiful, mostly stop motion animation and its gd awesome. personally i loved the story, it was very sweet and had a good moral. it was also really funny which i wasnt expecting!! im no expert on japanese culture but i think some of the characters were based off japanese myths? some of them reminded me of tengus (and after a google search there is a specific yokai from mythology). also lots of symbolism with the moon and beetle as a character/symbol. im not sure how accurate it was but it was interesting!

now the thing im not happy with; casting all white actors to play asian characters. i mean yeah george takei was there but he wasnt a lead roll. i know it was probably for publicity or whatever but still. cast asians to play asian characters come on.

to complete the compliment sandwich, the shamisen is one of my favorite instruments. i love the sound and the soundtrack was gorgeous