Stepping out of Time

Inoue Yachiyo V ist ein Lebender Nationalschatz Japans und die fünfte Nachfolgerin der in Kyoto verwurzelten Tanzschule Inoue
Inoue Yachiyo V is a Living National Treasure of Japan and the fifth successor of the Kyoto-rooted dance school Inoue

虫の音 高画質

Kyoto is – along with Osaka – the centre of classical Japanese arts. Traditions here are passed down from generation to generation, primarily through individuals who hold the status of “living national treasures”. Like Inoue Yashiyo V, the fifth teacher in a sequence of a dance called Kyomai

Japanese translator and cultural researcher

On a recent visit to Kyoto, I had occasion to interview Inoue Yachiyo V, head of Kyomai Inoue-Ryu [der Inoue-Tanzschule] and her daughter cum protégé, Inoue Yasuko. Both of whom are Kyomai teachers and crowning torchbearers of a tradition that has been taught by a succession of female dance masters. The interview afforded us the opportunity to discuss the prospects and relevance of this centuries-old artform in our rapidly changing world. In the realm of Nihon Buyo, (a blanket term for classical Japanese dance), the Inoue School is sui generis: in addition to being the only dance form studied by the Geiko, (Geisha) and Maiko (fledgling Geisha) in Kyoto’s Gion Gobu quarter, it also accentuates dance’s poetic dimension whereby the viewer’s imagination is subtly aroused. Generations of Kyomai masters have excelled in choreographing the jiuta repertoire, a genre of traditional Japanese music originally played on the shamisen which flourished in the Kyoto and Osaka regions.

Kyomai – the classical Japanese dance as practised in the teahouse

My earliest encounter with jiuta-mai dance was one stay-at-home Sunday evening some forty years ago on a twelve-inch black-and-white TV set plagued with poor reception. Despite the sporadic blizzard-like picture and the sound surging in waves, the image of that lone sculpturesque jiuta dancer beguiled me like an entrancing melodic line whose initial impression never wanes. At times as immobile as a vigilant crane lurking in the shallows, the ageing performer left me awestruck as the fan unfurling in her hand unleashed a flutter of scattering ripples which flowed out of the box to etch themselves on my memory.

As good fortune would have it, Inoue Yachiyo V was scheduled to an appearance at the National Theatre of Japan in Tokyo several days later, at which she would present Zangetsu, a piece from the jiuta repertoire, and what turned into an occasion that offered living proof of her compelling universal appeal.

Read on …

Kyomai – Dance of Ages


A geisha, or a geiko as they are known in Kyoto, is in her own right an outstanding artist and custodian of Japan’s courtly culture. In order to acquire all the necessary skills to become a great practitioner of the classical repertoire, the aspiring geisha needs to undergo a lengthy apprenticeship at a school at which Inoue Yachiyo V is teacher. A consummate performer, Yachyo V has steered her school of Kyomai through all the perils of modernity.

… or as a lover read for free