Shinbashi Hanayagi KaikenbanShinbashi Hanayagi Kaikenban


Premium Salon

Onoe Kikunojo Diary ~Listen to good things~


Onoue Kikunojo's diary special edition - Kikunojo and Shinbashi's geisha troupe "Higashiodori" training report

This time, "Onoue Kikunojo Diary ~ Listening to Good Things ~" has a different theme, and is edited by Premium Japan to take a look at the heated rehearsals ahead of the "Higashi Odori", which will open at the Shinbashi Enbujo from May 5th. Department reports. We will bring you a look at Kikunojo Onoe and the Shinbashi Hanayagi world.

The sounds of shamisen and taiko drums echo in Ginza in the afternoon


On an afternoon in mid-May, the sounds of taiko drums and shamisen could be heard everywhere in the Ginza 8-chome neighborhood. In Ginza, where luxury brand boutiques are lined up, the nostalgic sound of ``Japanese'' echoes because of the presence of the Shinbashi Hanayagi Association's union office, called ``Kenban''.



At Kenban, there is a rehearsal hall with a stage that also has a flower path. On that stage, rehearsals for ``Higashiodori'', which will be held at Shinbashi Enbujo from May 5th, were being held. Taiko drums and shamisen were echoing throughout the streets of Ginza from this stage.

The theme of this year's "Higashiodori", directed by Kikunojo, is "white"


In addition to the geishas who perform as dancers in "Higashiodori," geishas who specialize in Nagauta, Kiyomoto, and so-called "Jikata" performances of Hayashi also joined the stage. There were about 20 people surrounding it. Before the actual performance, which is about 10 days away, rehearsals are getting heated up.



Kikunojo Onoue sits in front of the stage in the rehearsal room, uses his body language and gestures, and sometimes even stands on stage himself to rehearse his choreography. At Shinbashi Hanayagi Kai, dance is taught by headmasters of three schools: Hanayagi, Nishikawa, and Onoe. At Higashi Odori, the overall direction is entrusted to one iemoto each year, and this year Kikunojo Onoe was in charge of the composition and overall direction. The theme for this year's 99th year is "white."



Mr. Kikunojo Mr. Kikunojo

He stood up and gave advice to the geisha crowd with gestures. Kikunojo's voice naturally grows louder than the sound of the shamisen.

Mr. Kikunojo Mr. Kikunojo

At times, Mr. Kikunojo himself appears on stage and gives detailed instructions. The geisha crowd's gaze was also very serious.

``As the 100th performance is coming up next year, this year's theme is ``white'', one less than ``100'', and we have named it ``Shirakaryoran''.The second act that I will choreograph is ``Okonomi Shinbashi Shirahanaryoran.'' There will be performances with the motif of ``white'', such as ``Hakusen'', ``Hakusakebei'', ``Gyo Shiraga'', ``Shiraito of Taki'', ``White Lily of Aizu'', ``Shirayuki'', and ``White Fuji''. The program for the second act is varied, including excerpts from classical pieces and new pieces. It’s exactly what you like.”

“Don’t panic, just shake it big and slow.”
Kikunojo-san's voice echoes in the watch room


At the rehearsal hall, we are in the middle of rehearsals for "Kyo Shiraga." The program is based on the story of Urashima Taro, and at the sound of a drum, seven young geishas appear on stage, surrounding the senior geishas who play the roles of the old man and the man, and with both hands they perform sarashi, which resembles white waves. I'll shake it.

“Don’t panic, just shake it big and slow.”

Kikunojo-san's voice is heard.

While making hand gestures, there are also signals such as ``ha, ha'' and clapping loudly.

The way the seven geishas gracefully wave the sarashi is truly a world of white. The shamisen is added to the mix, and the excitement is just like that of a real performance.

growing old together growing old together

``Dance, Nagauta, Kiyomoto, and Hayashi masters are all there at Jiawase, so I get nervous because I dance in front of them,'' said one young geisha.

The ``ji-awase'' is the first time that the geisha community and the local community practice together.


``What is being done today is ``jiaiawase.'' The cubes are cubed and the swings are cubed. Today is actually the first time.”


``We've been rehearsing separately since the beginning of April, so at this point we're almost finished with both the cubic and the regional. Subtle adjustments need to be made, such as how to take them, so we will have to 'align the ground' two or three more times before the actual performance.''

Aun's breathing that only those who are familiar with the art can understand


After the rehearsal for ``Kyo Shiraga,'' the rehearsals proceed seamlessly in the order of ``Aizu no Shirayuri'' and ``Shirafuji.''

It's not just the geisha's choreography that we match during rehearsals. The Nagauta and Hayashi masters are also present, so they coordinate the timing of the introduction of the Hayashi and the trigger (breathing). However, long conversations are not held there. Things move forward with just a few words that only those who are well-versed in the art can understand.


The ``jiaiawase'' began after 12:2, and the entire program was completed in about two and a half hours. The geishas sit on the stage, greet their masters with a graceful ``Thank you,'' and exit the stage. When I asked about it, I was told that some geishas would be performing at the tatami room later today as well.


“We hope you can enjoy the soft and fluffy atmosphere of a tatami room on stage.”


After the ``matching'' was over, I spoke to one of the geishas. This is Yu Kimiyu from Onoue, who dances in the center of the geisha group in many performances.


``The dance of our geisha group is different from the dance of Kabuki actors and dancers, and it is a dance that gives you a feeling of the soft atmosphere of a tatami room and natural and beautiful movements.Of course, there are some formal and formal movements, but... I hope you can see the softness that comes out in a natural flow, reminiscent of a series of movements in a tatami room."



Mr. Yu Kimi Mr. Yu Kimi

Yu Kimi (front) dancing "Taki no Shiraito".

``Personally, I try to express the scenery and emotion.I dance with the intention of conveying to the audience the world of the program, the scenery, and the emotion, rather than trying too hard to follow the choreography I have memorized.'' Masu.

Practicing is not just the time spent in the rehearsal hall. I always keep my fan within reach, and whenever I feel like it, I check the swing myself.

Even in my daily life, I sometimes check my choreography."

Yu Kimi and Kikunojo Yu Kimi and Kikunojo

Yu Kimi studied under Iemoto Kikunojo, Onoe. After his rigorous training, I was surprised by the softness of his expression when he spoke to me.

``Shinbashi Enbujo will become a large Japanese restaurant, and geisha will dance in the tatami room.''


Master Kikunojo-san complements Yu Kimi's words.


``The second act of ``Higashi Odori,'' as Kimiyu describes it as ``the soft atmosphere of a tatami room,'' turns the Shinbashi Enbujo into a large Japanese restaurant, where geishas gather one after another in the tatami room of the restaurant. The image is that they will be showing off their dance moves, so I would like people to enjoy the soft and slightly broken atmosphere, which is different from the Kabuki stage."


``Also, this year's performance is visually marked by white throughout, so I think the finale, where everyone appears in black, will stand out even more.Please look forward to the contrast.''


Only a few days left until the actual performance. If you are walking around the Ginza 8-chome area and hear the sound of shamisen or taiko drums, it is likely that a group of geishas are putting their heart and soul into their final rehearsal inside a building.

East Odori Finale East Odori Finale

The spectacular finale of "Higashiodori" is filled with all sorts of flowers and Shinbashi geishas lined up.

The essence of Edo, the beauty of Japan, “Higashiodori” opens

east odori poster east odori poster

99th Higashiodori Shinbashi Enbujo
May 5th, 24th, 25th, 26th, 27 days, 4 performances in total
The first performance (excluding the 24th and 27th) starts at 11:00
Second episode 13:40 start
Performance begins at 16:20

Click here for the official website of Higashiodori

The Shinbashi Enbujo was turned into a large Japanese restaurant, with Mizumi in the mood for a great meal. The 5th East Odori will be held again this year for four days from May 24th to 27th. Shinbashi geisha are the direct disciples of Onoue, Nishikawa, Hanayagi, and third-class iemoto. This year, Onoue Iemoto Kikunosuke Onoue will be the general producer. Please enjoy the 4-act stage performance of the geishas. Before the play and between intermissions, you can enjoy gourmet food such as boxed lunches from Shinbashi restaurants (reservations required), sake and champagne booths. Please come to the especially gorgeous Shinbashi Enbujo.

Interview/photo cooperation: Tokyo Shinbashi Union
Photography by Toshiyuki Furuya

Kikunojo Onoe


Born in March 1976 as the eldest son of Kikunojo Onoe (currently Bokuyuki), the third head of Nihon Buyo Onoe and the second generation. He studied under his father from the age of 3, and made his stage debut in ``Pine Green'' at the National Theater in 1981 (at the age of 1990). In 14 (at the age of 2011) he was allowed the name Seikaede Onoe. In August 8 (age 34), he inherited the title of Onoue's fourth iemoto, and at the same time assumed the name Onoue Kikunojo, the third. In addition to presiding over the Onoe-kai and Kikuju-kai, which are traditional dance parties, he also presides over the "Itsei-kai" (a two-person gathering with Kyogen master Ippei Shigeyama) and his own recitals, creating not only classical works but also new works. He continues to put a lot of effort into releasing various works. New Kabuki plays ``Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind'' and ``Touken Ranbu'', the first video work in the Japanese dance world to be shot entirely outdoors, ``Ground, Water, Fire, Sky, and Odori'', as well as classical performing arts, as well as ice shows such as ``Hyoen'' and ``LUXE''.・Working as choreographer. He is also actively collaborating with artists of various genres, including Eitetsu Hayashi, one of Japan's leading Japanese drum players.


For inquiries to “Kikunojo FAN CLUB”, please contact:Onoue official website.


Premium Salon

Onoe Kikunojo Diary ~Listen to good things~

Premium Salon

scroll top