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.
“What fascinates me most of all, however, is that green, iridescent lipstick, so
rarely used today even by Kyôto geisha. One can guess nothing of its power unless one imagines
it in the low, unsteady light of a candle. The woman of old was made to hide the red of her mouth
under green-black lipstick, to put shimmering ornaments in her hair; and so the last trace of color
was taken from her rich skin. I know of nothing whiter than the face of a young girl in the
wavering shadow of a lantern, her teeth now and then as she smiles shining a lacquered black
through lips like elfin fires.”
Tanizaki is speaking of komachi beni 小町紅, a special type of lip coloring which is a dark, iridescent green when dry and turns red when applied with a wet brush. The color can be layered up from a sheer pink to juicy crimson. Sasabeni 笹紅 is the practice of painting several layers on the lower lip until it dries the original shimmering sasa (bamboo grass) green color. Check out the video below to see how komachi beni is made.
And if you love makeup/beauty history, check out this great slideshow from The Museum of Beni here to learn even more! You can purchase komachi benihere and other places online.
Some details of the Momiji no Ma in the Wachigaiya teahouse, the last true tayû house. In 2011, the Sakan plaster company owned by Kusumi Naoki did some traditional restoration work on the ozashiki room, which is constructed with actual maple leaves pressed into the wall. In true Japanese artistic fashion, Kusumi-san says they measured the positions of the existing leaves down to the millimeter and did their best to select new leaves to match. Each leaf is perfect in size, shape, and color, placed just so to give the delicate illusion of dancing on a crisp autumn wind.
(photo 1 Source ; photos 2-5 from the Sakan website)
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)
Farewell, Mamefuji a Last Shot by photographer ta_ta999.
Every detail is beautiful and touched with melancholy. Her fuji (wisteria) colored kimono with the auspicious crane - a symbol of longevity - in the details of her obiage… her kago bag is patterned with fuji blossoms and covered in so many omamori (lucky charms). Sakura, the symbol of life’s ephemeral beauty, weep softly over her wistful face. The outside world continues turning behind her.
It was true after all, she is indeed retiring. You can see candid shots of her at the Hôgoku Matsuri closing the Miyako Odori today, May 1st, here. She entered the karyûkai on her birthday, Dec 1, 2013; with her charming beauty, artistic grace, and sensual, dynamic personality she quickly became the crown jewel of Kyôto’s maiko… She will be remembered for a long time.
I don’t want to pry into her life about the reasons for leaving, so let’s keep in the spirit of geiko propriety and pray for her future happiness. She is from Kumamoto, which was hit with a series of destructive earthquakes on April 16, and will be returning home to her family. m(_ _)m