On Saturday 27th February there was an event in the city of Perth. It was the Perth Japan Festival 2016. Artists and performers were brought over from Japan. The crème de la crème were Maiko and Geiko from Gion Higashi…”Jewels of Kyoto”. I have chosen 20 photos to tell a little of the story as I saw it. (Please click on photos to enlarge.)
10 o’ clock in the morning at Forrest Chase in central Perth. It is one hour before Perth Japan Festival is due to start and already it is 36 degrees C. Up in the distance is the stage where the performances will be. The audience will sit in white chairs positioned in full sun.
From left ; Hinagiku, Tomitsuyu, Ryoka and Tomitae. It is now 11 a.m and the young ladies wait to go on stage for the Opening Ceremony.
After the Opening Ceremony, as their performance is not until 12 noon, the Maiko and Geiko have time to explore their immediate environment. Myers Department Store is the coolest place to head to as it is air conditioned. Onlookers are amazed!
The Okaasan of Tomikiku Ochaya; Reiko Tomimori, introduces the audience to the concept of Maiko and Geiko. Her English is very good.
A double portrait of Ryoka and Hinagiku as they stand on stage.
Different Japanese styles!
The view looking back at the audience. By now (noon) it is 38 degrees C (that is 100.4 F). It is ferociously hot amidst all that concrete.
Now I show you my problem…the setting. You can have a stunning painting but if it is badly hung and lit, its lustre is lost. And so it is here with the Jewels of Kyoto. I do not want to see an ice cream van behind the stage – it spoils everything. Where is the finesse? Where is sensitivity and empathy?
There is no vantage point to get a view of the performance without it being spoilt by the surroundings. Tomitsuyu and Ryoka do their best in a hostile environment.
Ryoka – always lovely.
Ryoka again – I’m doing my best to crop out the pink ice cream van.
Hinagiku – with a bit of green cactus “sculpture” behind. (Cringe)
Ryoka and Tomitae.
(There’s no escaping the pink monstrosity at the back; sorry)
Hinagiku sings (she has a lovely deep voice). Miyako plays shamisen and Ryoka plays Japanese flute.
After the first set, a Samurai warrior (he is also a professor at Tokyo University) chats to Tomitae while Tomitsuyu looks on.
During the second performance at 13:20 I have changed position and am now standing at the back of the stage. I think I might have a better view of surrounds but I am wrong. There is no ‘right’ place to stand. Therefore I take very few photos. The women, though stoic, show signs of the tremendous heat in their expressions.
Obi-view of Hinagiku. That’s the central post-office behind and a banner advertising “PIAF” (Perth International Arts Festival). The faces on the banner look spooky.
Hinagiku leaves the stage.
Tomitsuyu leaves the stage.
Of course I am happy that “Jewels of Kyoto” came to Perth but I do wish some more thought had been given to the environment they danced in. Even a curtain of some sort to block off the detritus behind the stage would have helped. The acoustics were not good either plus there was some feedback.
They are in Auckland, New Zealand, as I write this post. In Sydney, Auckland and Wellington they performed (and will peform) in small theatres. It really would have been much better to see them in an intimate theatre than outside in a banal, soulless and boiling hot concrete jungle. However, thank you, Japanese Government, for bringing them.