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)