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Lanterns in Gion-cho advertising Miyako-odori (dance).
Hanging cherry blossoms adorn the night sky in Maruyama Park, while the light 'clop-clop' of Maiko girls walking along the streets can be heard echoing through Gion. Marking the full arrival of spring in Kyoto, the annual traditional dance, Miyako-odori, has begun. Red lanterns dangle from the lattice windows and walls of Tea houses. These lanterns display the outline of an array of six circles, skewered by a line. This is the famous tsunagi-dango (literally, 'linked dumplings'), and the mark of the Gion Kobu district. The mark reputedly originated in an attempt to build solidarity among the six Gion areas during the Edo Period, when permission was granted to open entertainment establishments. Each area is represented by one dango (dumpling). However, hana-yori-dango (dumplings first, then flowers), brings to mind even more pleasant images, of eating dumplings while enjoying cherry blossoms in Hanami-koji and Maruyama Park.

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