Mar 31st
Hanezu Odori
Hanezu Odori (Photo: Bonson Lam)

Hanezu Odori Dance Festival

The tale of a hundred nights

Bonson Lam   - 2 min read
Venue : Zushinin Temple Ono When : Sunday - Mar 31st 2024, 11:00am - 3:00pm

Hanezu refers to the pinky plum blossom color. The pink is so surreal in the paintings, it is other worldly, almost referring to some Buddhist paradise filled with angelic beings. What is it about the pursuit of beauty and perfection that encapsulates all our dreams and desires?

Why do they dance in front of the altar? Are the elementary school girls dancing as Ono and the prince some form of human perfection? Their young white powdered faces, unburdened by life's turmoils as the young Buddha when he lived a cloistered and sheltered life in a prince's palace, remind me of the young Noh female mask character of Ko-omote, who symbolises the innocence and untainted beauty of youth.

It seems the tree that Buddha sat under in India is as far from Japan as heaven is from earth. Perhaps this play is trying the bridge the gap between these two worlds. While there is some explanation of the story here, much is left to your imagination, like a ballet.

Actually a famous Noh mask maker, Michishige Udaka referred to Ono no Komachi in his long career of making Noh masks and performing this almost spiritual ritual, as if dancing for the gods.

He said that Ono no Komachi is reputed to have rejected many suitors, remaining single all of her life: "The color of the blossoms fade as they wither. Ah, in vain, I, too, have aged, watching in sad reverie through the long rains".

Getting there

Zushin-in Temple is about thirty minutes from JR Kyoto or Higashiyama. From JR Kyoto, take the train to Yamashina, and then change to the subway to Ono station. From Ono, it is a level ten minute walk.

Bonson Lam

Bonson Lam @bonson.lam

I knew my future was destined to be with Japan the moment I flew from Sydney to experience the atmospheric laneways of Kyoto last century.  I am humbled to have met many distinguished people during this time, especially the national living treasures of Japan, such as the doll maker to the Imperia...