Geisha Koyakko 1920s (by Blue Ruin1)

Koyakko (小奴) was a talented dancer in the Shinbashi geisha district of Tokyo. After the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 she succeeded to the professional name of Hanayagi Sumi (花柳寿美) and went on to modernize traditional dance-drama. A motion picture was later made of her career.


Aichi Geisha (via  『一駒』 裏方人?のブログ)

From left to right: Ichiha, Komako, Ibu - from Ichikoma Okiya, Anjo (Aichi prefecture)

  • The Geisha on the right is Eve (Ibu/一舞), a real blonde geisha. Her onesan is Ichiha. Eve is originally from the Ukraine and, according to her okaa-san, is quite dedicated to learning the arts. (text source)

(image sources: 1-2-3-4)

Related post: Komako apprears on this documentary (you can see how she started her own okiya, among other stories)

Feb. 26, 2015: The Blossoming Graduate Geiko - Apprenticeship and Academics Are Compatible! Her Debut Next Month

(Masami 満彩美, left, watches over Masaki 満彩希 as she plays the shamisen. photo by Unaki Ken'ichi)

In Gion Higashi, one of Kyoto’s five kagai, Masaki (24), a student of Doushisha Women’s University, will debut as a jikata geiko in March. 

Able to find compatiblity between her academic studies and strict apprenticeship, Masaki says of her endeavors in the shamisen, “To get people to listen to my playing I had to be very diligent.”

Her real name is Kodama Mikako. Born in Chichibu, Saitaima Prefecture, she became interested in traditional music through participating in the famous Chichibu Night Festival, helping to pull the luxurious floats and playing the drums. She began studying the shamisen before college.

Her chance to become a geiko came in the fall of her first year at university when she took a part-time job at a teahouse bar in Gion Higashi. Keeping a casual eye on the customers, she never let their smiles go out. She was fascinated by the way the owner, veteran geiko Masami, carried herself.

“I want to become a geiko,” she confided in Masami while job hunting in autumn of her third year at university. In the kagai, becoming a geiko is typically done by beginning apprenticeship as a maiko after middle school and devoting oneself to picking up Kyoto dialect and kagai customs. University graduates are uncommon, but Masami saw that she was determined.

In April of last year Mikako (Masaki) moved from her apartment and into the Man Ochaya&Okiya as a shikomi (apprentice).  On days when she didn’t have class she would give her all to practicing the shamisen and tea ceremony.

She enters the training room earlier than her senpai to prepare the shamisen and zabuton, even though her own practice session is the very last. Unaccustomed to the Kyoto dialect and sitting in the seiza position, there were times when the strict coaching made her want to quit, but she endured. “Above all, the idea that I could become as good a geiko as my seniors is what cheered me up,” she says.

Among geiko, the number of jikata (musicians) is small compared the number of tachikata (dancers). In the largest of the five kagai, Gion Kobu, 10 years ago 24 of the 84 geiko were jikata; today it is 18 out of 67 geiko. In Gion Higashi, out of the 10 geiko who have been here for several years, only 3 are jikata.

Eight days before her university graduation, on March 10th, Masaki will have her misedashi (formal debut). “Although now is a crucial moment for her to be seen as a "hospitality professional,” more people will aim to become jikata because of her efforts,“ hopes Masami. (SOURCE)

I am so proud of Masaki!! Her determination is so inspiring and I hope she becomes very popular. Hearing this story I have to stop and take a long look in the mirror and ask why the hell I let my own dreams elude me?