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World of flowers and willows

Thursday, 19 April, 2012· Last Updated on: Thursday, 19 April, 2012

in Blog

Geisha call their world the karyukai, the world of flowers and willows. In the old days the ‘flowers’ were the flamboyant colourful oiran courtesans in their lavish kimonos; in woodblock prints they’re the ones with their hair bristling with combs and hairpins and ornaments. The geisha were the modest low key ‘willows’. But in the end the oiran disappeared and the geisha survived. There really is a geisha world still, separate from the world of everyday life. I was surprised to discover that the geisha I know in Kyoto and Tokyo know each other. Manami-san in Kyoto (see last blog post) asked me to send her regards to Shichiko in Asakusa, in Tokyo, and spoke with admiration of Kiyoha, in Shimbashi.

Please click on thumbnails below to scroll through the gallery:

With Shichiko-san, a taikomochi or ‘drumbearer’, a sort of jester, and an important part of the Tokyo geisha world.

With Shichiko-san, a taikomochi or ‘drumbearer’, a sort of jester, and an important part of the Tokyo geisha world.

With Shichiko at the entrance to the Nakamise, the long road leading up to Asakusa Kannon Temple, flanked by guardian deities.

With Shichiko at the entrance to the Nakamise, the long road leading up to Asakusa Kannon Temple, flanked by guardian deities.

With Kiyoha-san, a famous and beautiful geisha in the Shimbashi district whose speciality is Kiyomoto singing, just after she had performed at Tokyo’s National Theatre.

With Kiyoha-san, a famous and beautiful geisha in the Shimbashi district whose speciality is Kiyomoto singing, just after she had performed at Tokyo’s National Theatre.

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