And thus begins the newest series about reviewing books on the karyukai. All of the books shown on here are personally owned by myself, so please know that you’ll be getting a review from someone who has read it (likely many times) and not just, “I heard about it from so and so”.
Since this is the first one I thought I’d start with the basic karyukai staple: Geisha: A Living Tradition by Kyoko Aihara (IBSN 1-84442-302-6) Date of Publication: 1999 Language: English, Polish, French, and many more Format: Hardcover and Softcover Availability: Can still be bought new or used from most major book suppliers and is easily found online Price: Around $10-15 Errors: 1
I call this a staple as it is the book that anyone interested in the karyukai should own at some point, if not, as their first book into this complex system. It provides all basic information with fantastic explanations of all terms coupled with beautiful photography. Some images may seem a bit out-dated (car phones, since cell phones weren’t widespread back then), but the main information never gets old. It goes through the misedashi and erikae processes, shows the full calendar of maiko kanzashi, gives insight into their daily lives, and shows how they work in a world that’s constantly changing around them.
Some of the early reviews posted online were meant to tank an excellent book by people who are quite toxic in the community, so ignore the old reviews and read the newer reviews from people who actually bought it.
When it comes to errors I could only find one, and it’s a printing error, not one by the author. The descriptions of the images on pages 100 and 101 are swapped so, when reading those pages just keep that in mind. There’s also an image in the back that talks about maiko seen outside with tourists that possibly should have been re-worded as the image is one of the author doing a maiko henshin (and being mistaken for a real maiko) ^^
There really is no better foundation book to have in your collection and I highly recommend it to anyone, whether they’re starting out or already immersed and the price is within anyone’s budget
Not to be left out, Pontocho has a minarai as well! Her name is Momika (もみ佳) and she will be debuting from Yamaguchi (やまぐち). Her onesan will be Momiyuki (もみ幸). I’ll try to post some images as they come in ^^
October 2016: Tayū Kikugawa attending a memorial service for dolls.
It is an old Japanese belif that dolls who were loved by their owners have their own souls, which is why a lot of Japanese people think throwing away dolls is a taboo, especially if they were gifted to them.
Instead, they send them to Shinto Shrines, where they are given a proper, ritual send-off.
Are geishas in 2016 called upon to have relations with business men who request their presence st dinners or events
You’re probably referring to romantic and/or sexual relationships.
What you’re asking about areprobably danna, men or women (but more commonly men) who financially support one Geiko and in exchange get to spend more time alone with her than her regular costumers would.
What is important to know is that Geisha/Geiko were never forced to have a danna; it was always their own choice and they were always allowed to end the relationship or enter a new one.
There is a misconception that, before WWII, most Geisha had a danna, but this was not the case. Usually, only the most successful Geisha attracted men wealthy enough and willing to financially support them, and also, not all Geisha wanted a danna.
While it was certainly attractive to have a danna, as they cover a lot of a Geisha’s living expenses, and some of them strove to get one, some of them wanted to keep their complete independence. It was also never impossible to survive as an independent Geisha without a danna, as especially the movie “Memoirs of a Geisha” suggests, but I could imagine it being harder back then.
Quite a number of Geisha had romantic relationships with their dannas, but these were based on mutual feelings for each other. A “danna-contract” (contracts usually do not exist in the karyukai and it is usually based on a verbal promise) did not intail a romantic or sexual relationship. Most men supported Geisha as a sign of their wealth and prestige, sort of like patronizing the opera in the west.
Back in the day, a lot of male artists like Kabuki and Noh actors also sponsered Geisha, because both are artists, so they had a certain kinship and often developed friendships over artistic aspects.
Of course, some men and Geisha fell in love with each other at the parlor, but that’s just what naturally happens to most people. If there was a mutual romantic interest and the man could afford it, he would of course try to become her danna, because not only meant this being able to spend more time with her (a danna’s request for a meeting is always more important than that of any other customer and a danna can also pay a Geisha’s hourly fee to buy her some time-off - which she might spend with him, casually, if she wants to), but also got to support the woman he loved in her career.
A Geisha’s private romantic and sexual life was always her own buisness - they were and are allowed to date who they want and are never kept from (and sometimes even encouraged) marrying.
Today, danna are increasingly rare, as Geisha numbers are much lower (about 1,100 in total) and Geisha are just not as popular as they were in the 1920s, for example, so there are less people willing to support Geisha. A lot of Geisha today also value complete independence and want no one to patronize them. Most independent Geisha can also live comfortably off their job and don’t feel like they need any additional support.
Some Geisha do still dave danna, but these relationships are kept private as they are really no one elses’s buisness.
So no, Geisha are not and never were called upon to have relationships with buisnessmen, although some did and very few still do, but because both parties want to.
Hi there! I adore your blog so much!!! <3 OK, so my question is inspired by the other Anon who asked about Kikutsuru. I'm curious about geiko Kikuno of Miyagawacho. I know that she and Kikutsuru both live (or used to live) in the Hanafusa okiya, but I can't find much info on Kikuno, other than her new little sister Kikuyae. Can you help me?
Hello! Aww, thank you, so many friendly anons these last days :).
There really isn’t a lot of information and only very few pictures of Geiko Kikuno, which is a shame, because she is absolutely gorgeous.
I don’t know the exact date of her misedashi and erikae, but she took Maiko Kikuyū
(now retired) under her wings as an imouto in 2004, when she was a senior Maiko, so she either had her Erikae in late 2004 or early 2005, but most likely early 2005, because Kikuyū
debuted in November 2004, really late into the year.
Her misedashi was probably 4-5 years before that, so Kikuno also has been around for a while now. She should be around 31 or 32 by now, so she is a senior Geiko by now, and she is only a little bit older than Kikutsuru.
Just like Kikutsuru, Kikuno is also primarily a dancer and dances big roles in Miyagawacho’s odori every year, a sign that she is a very accomplished dancer, too.
She also is a jimae Geiko, which you can tell by the fact that Geiko in Miyagawacho have to become independent in 5 years maximum after their Erikae and have to quit if they don’t make it until then and Kikuno is, of course, beyond that time-span. Also, her nemaki, the silver “wings” at the base of the bun of her hairstyle, were cut, which means that the respective Geiko is independent.
She has had three imouto up until now, Kikuyū, who worked from November 2004 to December 2012, Kikune who worked from
October 2006 to May 2012 and retired as a Maiko and Maiko Kikuyae just this January (credits to missmyloko and her Sister-Relationships-tab).
The fact that she took on Kikuyae as her imouto this year (and two before!) also is a sign that she is quite successful, as having an imouto is expensive, mainly because you have to contribute to the cost of the misedashi.
This is also a sign that she intends to stay around for longer, she wouldn’t have taken on a younger sister if she planned on leaving soon.
Kikuno used to be a far more popular model for photos when she was still a Maiko and a very young Geiko, but as time goes on, photographers usually (sadly) lose interest in the “older” Geiko (31 is not old), so the fact that there aren’t that many new pictures of her is quite normal.
Hanafusa’s Maiko and especially their Geiko all seem to be quite private, there isn’t much information about any of them, which is probably because they just want it that way.
However, the Hanafusa Okiya participated in two documentaries; Geisha Girl (2005) by the BBC, which follows Maiko Kikuyū on her journey from Shikomi over Minarai to Maiko and also has some interviews with Maiko Kikuno, her older sister, in it, and a documentary starring Dawn Porter, which is to treat with caution, as it is much less professionally done than the BBC-documentary (I personally disliked the part about Onsen Geisha a lot, because it basically presents them as prostitutes, which is just not true.)
They are both available on Youtube, and here are the links:
I made a few edits to the post because I didn’t feel I was quite clear in my first posting. :p
I have a fun topic to post.
My friend is in Japan and I saw her post a photo of herself with what seems to be a maiko. She said she was in Arashiyama and that this lady was just standing there for a while. So I became super sceptical, explained why she might be fake, even though she looks adorable, and asked her if I couldn’t post her photo to a forum for some quick hack and slash/let’s down to business analyzation stuff.
I’m leaning towards fake because her hairline makes me think she may be wearing a wig and her make up went all the way up to her hair. Also, her makeup may not match her kanzashi (a kind that I’ve never seen before). What’s fun is that I also found this similar photo online from 2009:
Hey! I was wondering, since i'm so into Ayaha and her sister Ichiyu, how famous they are into their hanamachi? Thank you for your answer and all the hard work you put into this blog! :3
First of all, hello! Thank you, you’re so nice!
The easiest and most accurate way to talk about a Geimaiko’s popularity is the list of their yearly earnings made public to the hanamachi during the Shigyoshiki ceremony, but Pontocho’s list wasn’t published this year, so I had to take other aspects into consideration.
Ayaha and Ichiyū are very popular, they are the most famous Maiko of Pontocho, I would say, especially Ichiyū.
They get to go to a lot of public appearances where they get to represent their district, have a lot of photoshoots scheduled and get to perform in public a lot (for example during this year’s Higashiyama Hanatouro, when they were still in their first year.)
They are both very good dancers for their age, are said to be very charming in person, and have the typical “Maiko-look”, with Ayaha looking a bit more mature and Ichiyū looking a bit cuter and more childish, which doesn’t hurt either.
They certainly have a promising future. I hope I could help you!