Mesmerizing Nihon Buyo – A Free Japanese Dance Workshop In Asakusa

Mesmerizing Nihon Buyo – A Free Japanese Dance Workshop In Asakusa

Tokyo 2018.07.20

Nihon buyo is a traditional art based on elegant dance and gestures. A free Japanese dance workshop is held every Sunday in Asakusa for visitors from outside Japan. This article introduces the features of this workshop and how to participate.

Translated by Sandy Lau

Written by MATCHA-PR

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Experience Nihon Buyo in Asakusa

Many travelers hope to experience and learn about traditional culture when coming to Japan. Fortunately, the opportunities to learn the basics from professionally-taught short workshops, in areas like kimono, tea ceremony, calligraphy, and other traditional crafts, are increasing.

However, the chance to learn nihon buyo, a long-cherished and traditional performance art in Japan, in a short amount of time and for free, is very rare.

This article introduces information about and highlights of a free Japanese dance workshop held for visitors from abroad, taking place in the famous sightseeing area of Asakusa, Tokyo. Be sure to take this opportunity to experience the complexities of Japanese culture through this elegant Japanese dance.

What Is Nihon Buyo?

The World Mesmerizing Nihon Buyo – Experience A Free Workshop In Asakusa!

Picture courtesy of Arts Council Tokyo

Nihon buyo is one of the traditional performing arts of Japan. This art is known for combining “mai“, a type of dance based on tranquil and elegant movements, and “odori” which is a more upbeat and festive type of dance.

Nihon buyo performances tell a story with everyday actions expressed through dance to the rhythm of song and instruments. The elegance of the dance and richness of the presentation determines the program's success, so the patterns of the kimonos worn by the performers are made to match the story. The folding fans and props used in the dances also fulfill an important role.

In nihon buyo, various scenes are portrayed through dance. In addition to performances on stages in front of large audiences, there are also presentations by geisha and maiko (apprentice geisha) for entertaining guests at high-class facilities such as ryotei (traditional Japanese restaurants).

Originally developed and created from kabuki theater, some scenes found in kabuki performances are based on nihon buyo. In this way, nihon buyo allows guests to further appreciate the intricacies of kabuki actors’ art.

Recently this art form has been capturing international attention, and some contemporary dancers who have learned Nihon buyo are introducing elements from the art into modern works.

A Traditional Japanese Dance Experience for Guests from Abroad

The World Mesmerizing Nihon Buyo – Experience A Free Workshop In Asakusa!

Picture courtesy of Arts Council Tokyo

At the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center, the “Traditional Culture Experience Programs for Foreign Visitors: Japanese dance workshop” is held every Sunday (*some Sundays are excluded) for those interested in encountering traditional Japanese culture. The activity lasts for about one hour and is free to participate in.

Under the guidance of a professional nihon buyo dancer, participants will dance a simple program after practising the basics. At the end of the workshop, the participants will watch a performance put on by professional dancers. This is a wonderful and fun opportunity to experience Japanese culture.

The World Mesmerizing Nihon Buyo – Experience A Free Workshop In Asakusa!

Picture courtesy of Arts Council Tokyo

At the workshop, participants will first change into yukata, type of a summer kimono. Yukatas, folding fans used in the dance, and other necessary items are provided at the workshop.

After putting on the yukata, you will learn how to use a folding fan, along with the basic dance movements and gestures from a nihon buyo teacher. Refined, graceful movements are important in nihon buyo, so this is an activity easily enjoyed by all types of visitors, regardless of age.

The World Mesmerizing Nihon Buyo – Experience A Free Workshop In Asakusa!

Picture courtesy of Arts Council Tokyo

Once you’ve learned the basics, you will next move onto applying the movements into dance. All participants will dance using their new nihon buyo skills, following the instructor’s example.

We're sure you will feel transformed by the essence of Japanese art as you dance in yukata with a fan in hand. This is the perfect experience for visitors with an admiration and interest in Japanese culture.

The World Mesmerizing Nihon Buyo – Experience A Free Workshop In Asakusa!

Picture courtesy of Arts Council Tokyo

At the end of the workshop, you will be able to watch one of two famous nihon buyo performances: “Fujimusume” (Wisteria Maiden) or “Ayameyukata” (The Iris Yukata). “Fujimusume” is a dance program written in the early nineteenth century, starring a wisteria spirit as the main character. In this dance, the wisteria spirit expresses her feelings of affection towards the man she is in love with, along with her sadness about unrequited love, while dancing elegantly.

“Ayameyukata” is composed of several lines depicting the scene of geisha sailing in the Sumida River, conveying the mood of early summer. Guests will experience the Edo era-like atmosphere that is fitting for the months of May and June. “Ayameyukata” is performed once a month.

A Japanese dance workshop allowing participants a firsthand view of these enchanting performances originating from kabuki dance is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

The World Mesmerizing Nihon Buyo – Experience A Free Workshop In Asakusa!

Picture courtesy of Arts Council Tokyo

You will also have a chance to take a photo with the dancers after the professional performance. It's a great way to create a memory of your day wearing yukata and participating in a Japanese dance workshop.

How to Participate in the Japanese Dance Workshop

We recommend applying ahead of time in order to participate in the Traditional Culture Experience Programs for Foreign Visitors: Japanese dance workshop for international tourists and non-Japanese residents.

Applications can be made here: https://tokyo-tradition.peatix.com/

Workshops are held on the 6th floor of the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center.

The Traditional Culture Experience Programs for Foreign Visitors: Japanese dance workshop takes place every Sunday (*1) from April 8th, 2018 to March 31st, 2019, held three times a day at 11:00, 13:00, and 15:00. Please choose a convenient time for you to participate in this event. Each workshop will be about one hour long.

*1 Excluded Dates: July 29th and March 3rd, 2019.

Other Traditional Culture Experiences Worth Checking Out

Arts Council Tokyo, the host of the Traditional Culture Experience Programs for Foreign Visitors: Japanese dance workshop, also holds various other traditional culture experience workshops.

We especially recommend the Engei in Edo-Tokyo Museum and Shamisen of Nagauta (*2) for international tourists and short-term residents. These activities are held at the Edo-Tokyo Museum and Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center, respectively.

Through the Engei Experience in Edo-Tokyo Museum, you will learn skills that are entertaining and surprising to audiences, such as kyokugei (acrobatics) and kamikiri (traditional paper cutting). The workshops are 30 minutes in length and held every Saturday until March 31st, 2019, at 12:30, 14:00, and 16:00. For details, please check this page.

The Shamisen of nagauta workshop at the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center, introduces the shamisen, a traditional Japanese instrument. Participants in this workshop will be able to learn and perform a simple song. The shamisen is an instrument used in kabuki and ningyo joruri (traditional Japanese puppet theater), and in this Asakusa Experience Program, you will use the hosozao (thin neck) shamisen utilized in kabuki theater. This is a 60 minute workshop held once a month on Sundays (*3) from 11:30, 13:20, and 15:10.

*2 Nagauta: a traditional Japanese song centered around singing accompanied by shamisen.
*3 Shamisen of nagauta workshop dates: September 16th, October 21st, November 18th, December 16th, January 20th, and February 17th.

For details about each Traditional Culture Experience Program, please check out Art Council Tokyo’s Traditional Culture Program website.

Enjoy and Encounter the Traditional Cultures of Japan!

The World Mesmerizing Nihon Buyo – Experience A Free Workshop In Asakusa!

Picture courtesy of Arts Council Tokyo

The Traditional Culture Experience Programs for Foreign Visitors: Japanese dance workshop is held on the 6th floor of the Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center. The center is located in front of the symbolic Sensoji Temple’s Kaminarimon Gate in Asakusa. It is a program held for free by the city of Tokyo and Arts Council Tokyo, allowing many different participants and visitors from abroad the chance to learn about the charms of traditional Japanese culture.

Please don't miss out on this valuable opportunity to learn fundamental nihon buyo dance movements from professionals, wear traditional yukata, and join in the dancing for yourself!

Apply to participate here: https://tokyo-tradition.peatix.com/

Japanese Dance Experience Program Details: http://www.tokyo-tradition.jp/2018/eng/program/032/

Traditional Culture Experience Programs For Foreign Visitors Website: http://www.tokyo-tradition.jp/2018/eng/program/

Organized by Arts Council Tokyo (Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture)
Supported by and in cooperation with Tokyo Metropolitan Government

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