May 11th, 2016 : The Evening Debut of Hangyoku Kurumi, in Hachiôji

After graduating junior high and completing a 2-year apprenticeship, 18-year-old Kurumi くるみ is the first hangyoku (半玉 “half jewel”; geisha apprentice in Tôkyô area) to debut in the city of Hachiôji (outside Tôkyô City, part of Tôkyô Prefecture) in about 50 years. Kurumi grew up in the Sumida area of Tôkyô, where she studied Japanese dance from the age of 10. Thanks to her dance teacher’s introduction, Kurumi began her live-in apprenticeship at the Yukinoe okiya (ゆき乃恵) in Hachiôji.

According to the geisha Megumi めぐみ (54; 2nd photo helping with makeup), okâsan of the Yukinoe okiya, most girls who aspire to be geisha go to Kyôto; very few start from the bottom in Hachiôji. From the first time she laid her hands on the tsuzumi drum and shamisen, and even now as she struggles for her dream, Kurumi’s eyes sparkle as she explains, “I want to become a geisha who makes even the short time of ozashiki enjoyable.”

According to the Hachiôji Tourism Association, the city’s former silk industry is doing well; in the Meiji period merchants came from all over the country to buy goods. The Hachiôji karyûkai has its origins in traditional ryôtei restaurants, where the geisha are called to entertain. Including Kurumi, there are now 19 active geisha in the area.
(news & photo Source)

Playing Kitsune-ken or Fox Fist (1937)

“A variation on the “rock, paper, sissors” hand game, played by Geisha and their customers, this particular version of the game was at its most popular from the late Edo period (1820s) to the end of the Meiji period (1910s).

In Kitsune-ken (Fox Fist), two people play, and the match is refereed by a third person. The roles of fox, village headman, and hunter, are symbolised by the hands forming ears (fox), hands on thighs (headman), and hands holding a gun (hunter). The village headman looses to the fox, which bewitches him; the fox looses to the hunter, who shoots him; and the hunter looses to the village headman, who outranks him. In the centre is a prize or forfeit, in this photograph the prize is a porcelain figurine, but it is usually a sake container and a sake cup, the person who loses a game has to take a drink as a forfeit.

Beauty of form and style are an important part of the game for both men and women. The movements are usually accompanied by short, sharp calls such as, one, two, three or Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and the whole is harmonised with music played on the Shamisen” (source)

Here is a video of Ichisayo and Ichigiku of Pontocho playing the game

Nagoya Maiko performing ozashiki azobi Kin no Shachihoko (via YOMIURI ONLINE(読売新聞))

Mitaka? / Did you see?

Kiitaka? / Did you hear?

Nagoya no Shiro wa / Of Nagoya castle

Gojuu Yagura no Zecchou ni / On the peak of the fivefold turret

Kin no Shachihoko / A golden Shachihoko

Shachihoko / And the other Shachihoko

Amazarashi / Are exposed to rain.

(translation by arumukos)

A ‘kin no shachihoko’ (金の鯱) is a golden orca-like fish which is often found adorning Japanese castles. (photo and text by jsteph)