For all the European kimono lovers and around the world!
Western Okiyas - another way of immortalize the Tradition of Geisha?
Location : Europe
|Subject: Re: Western Okiyas - another way of immortalize the Tradition of Geisha? Mon Feb 25, 2013 3:00 am|| |
Getting back on topic, I also want everyone to know that I've talked to a japanese friend of mine about the western geisha issue.
Japanese people usually avoid this theme but fortunately he was very sincere in his opinion.
What he told is that japanese people might find curious a western woman as geisha, but they will never see her as a true geisha. They see her as someone who is praticing something she likes(like a sport), not exactly someone who is living for the arts literally.
Westerns will never reach certain "status" within traditional japanese culture. He told me a japanese and a western praticing the traditional arts are two very different things, which means only a native japanese has the true "heart" for it. Western women will never be seen as true geishas, no matter how good they might be. A geisha is something japanese only, is a way of being that a foreigner can never reach at the eyes of the japanese people.
This is what he said to me, and I understand his point of view. So basically any western geisha, kimono-san, henshin or anything made by a non-japanese, will be seen by a native japanese as something more like a curiosity, something not to be taken seriously. Japanese always tried to keep westerns away from their culture for many time, specially to protect the essence of their arts, and they continue to do this in the geisha's world, so we can only respect that.
My friend also told me that this he said was not supposed to discourage westerns to praticing the japanese arts in any way, but only make western people understand japanese people's point of view.
This also helped me having a different perspective of everything, and made me want to learn the japanese arts even more, but not to be a "geisha", or getting the title of one. I believe some western women as Sayuki thought(and in a very wrong way!) that her 'westerness' would put her in a special pedestal where she will have all attention to her and fame. Wrong.
The right way to go is to be humble and not stand out. I believe this way, japanese people will see with other eyes the ones who want to follow japanese arts, and they will respect westerns that do that more. Trying to have an "Okiya", group, or being a (western)geisha without strong bases, can be accepted well inside our own western community, and maybe is something that can grow to something beautiful among us, but it will probably been seen as a joke to the japanese.
Location : St.Louis,MO,USA
|Subject: Re: Western Okiyas - another way of immortalize the Tradition of Geisha? Wed Feb 27, 2013 8:28 pm|| |
Location : Europe
|Subject: Re: Western Okiyas - another way of immortalize the Tradition of Geisha? Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:07 pm|| |
I do agree to a certain extent that a " Westerner " will never be accepted as " Japanese ". I also agree that a teacher is very important if one is learning any type of dance or musical skill. They can point out the mistakes that a video tutorial cannot address. One way to evaluate your performance is to video tape yourself so you can also see your self in action the way someone else sees you. While this is not a substitute for a teacher or proper lessons it can help you fine tune your movements and also can be sent to a teacher or other professional so they could give you their ideas on your performance. While a non-Japanese person may not be taken seriously in Japan as a geisha that should not stop them from the enjoyment they feel in performing or wearing kimono.
I also feel that if one can build a loyal following in their own area they should not be discouraged from performing. Most likely anyone who has been to Japan and seen real geisha - maiko would not be looking to see it outside Japan. There may be a market for it for those who would like to see it but can't get to a performance in Japan.
Anybody who studies arts of music or dance keep taking lessons for as long as they can to keep in good form weather they are performing or not. It is a way of life for them so why not continue for as long as one is able. They are also an asset to a class of younger people as they have knowledge and experiences they can share.
( Their is also a great pleasure in knowing you can still do it as one ages. This is a personal opinion but I'm sure one that weather said or not applies to anybody who has been a professional performer. )
Sayuki was unfortunately not a good example of a Western Woman dedicated to being a geisha. While I would have liked to read her book and see her documentary ( as we don't hear much of the Tokyo or any other area but Kyoto ) it seems that it may have been a way for her to get grants, scholarships or other money to finance herself. While we will never know her true motive for doing this it did blow up in her face. It's best if we all move on and forget her as she only hurt herself. I doubt Japanese outside Tokyo care about her or for that matter in Tokyo. She is last years news.
There is still a thriving community of dedicated women in Japan to carry on the Geisha profession and as long as they have customers there will still be that form of entertainment.
Location : Missouri, United States
|Subject: Reply - a thousand years later, it seems Fri Mar 14, 2014 8:24 pm|| |
- Komatsu2012 wrote:
- I do agree to a certain extent that a " Westerner " will never be accepted as " Japanese ". I also agree that a teacher is very important if one is learning any type of dance or musical skill. They can point out the mistakes that a video tutorial cannot address. One way to evaluate your performance is to video tape yourself so you can also see your self in action the way someone else sees you. While this is not a substitute for a teacher or proper lessons it can help you fine tune your movements and also can be sent to a teacher or other professional so they could give you their ideas on your performance. While a non-Japanese person may not be taken seriously in Japan as a geisha that should not stop them from the enjoyment they feel in performing or wearing kimono.
I also feel that if one can build a loyal following in their own area they should not be discouraged from performing.
First-off. Hello! Konnichiwa minna-san and Sumimasen for the long absence! Ohisashiburi-desu - it has truly been a long time.
My wonderful family and I are still alive and well in the Midwest, and honestly, performing more often than we have the time to keep up with practice! It's been a whirl-wind two years for me, and one of the things I have learned most is to never pre-judge. What Komatsu-san says above is very true. You must both love and have fun in kimono or what's the point? If you are confident and comfortable, it shows. Likewise, building a community is of incredible importance, and can make a world of difference!
I suppose it's inevitable that first impressions should be so different from the game plan. We all talk in generalities, but the Japanese people I have actually met (particularly those living and working abroad) are an enterprising, interesting, diverse and overall - welcoming lot. Across the board, the reactions I received were completely opposite what I expected I would get. To wit, I'm a 5'6" caucasian woman of germanic descent with prominent western features who doesn't speak Japanese very well at all -- I expected to be laughed at or ignored. And yet the local branch (in a major midwestern city) of the Japanese America Society has opened its arms to me and my friends. We have been honestly appreciated and can freely enter their doors. The JAS has found us places to learn and teachers willing to teach us anything and everything we can learn. I have lessons almost every single week from Japanese born, certified instructors who will work at my pace and do everything they can to support me. I've been floored, greatly humbled and overwhelmed by the response from Japanese people living and working in my area.
I truly expected the opposite, and yet I guess this is the real world, and everyone who has dedicated their hearts to pursuing art as an occupation (or even a serious hobby) would love to have a patient and dedicated student, regardless of nationality, age or heritage.
My point is not to brag - but to say that there are always ways to make dreams come true, sometimes it requires recalibrating the dream a bit, but that doesn't mean it's an impossible dream. Do not, any of you, no matter whether we agree or disagree in person or online, give up. Never give up.
Lessons learned in 2013 and 2014:
1. Respect is absolutely crucial. Do not ever let your temper come between you and the trained professional who is trying to help.
2. If you can learn even just formal greetings and thanks in Japanese this will make all the difference to your teachers.
3. Come prepared and always ask permission. Volunteer where possible and accept responsibility for your short-comings, even the hereditary ones -- like not being born and raised sitting on tatami.
4. Be humble. If possible, when people ask for business cards, give them the contact information not for you, but for your teachers. In the end you are nothing if not for the source from which your knowledge has come. Even if it's a video or a book.
5. GIFTS. Bring them, present them, but do not expect thanks. Give them regularly and often.
6. Always try your hardest. This sounds silly, but even if you're tired and you have a fever and you didn't sleep the night before, if your 80-year-old teacher offers to extend your lesson to help you practice, bow and thank her and then practice AGAIN.
Lessons learned in life: humans can be extremely selfish, self-absorbed, thoughtless and cruel. If you take off your blinders and armor and let yourself be hurt, you will indeed get hurt. However, sometimes the rewards are so staggering, the pain is worth while in the end. I guess it's up to you to decide.
I wanted to say thank you to all the people who have commented on Eternal Maiko - even once! It's been so wonderful to bounce ideas and opinions off of you, to see where your strengths lie and what knowledge can be shared. I hope the past year has also been a wonderful experience for you all, and would love to hear about it~
Best wishes always,
p.s. Komatsu-san, I had the good fortune to attend a performance of Sachiyo Ito-san in my area (she was sponsored to come from New York and dance), and I agree that she is a stunning dancer. It was a wonderful, breath-taking performance! Ironically, I wore a very dark kimono with a subtle pattern because I didn't want to stand out or offend anyone, and Sachiyo-san came to the edge of the stage and told me I looked good. I nearly fainted, I was so shocked! Thank you, Komatsu-san for recommending her dance school!
Location : Europe
|Subject: Re: Western Okiyas - another way of immortalize the Tradition of Geisha? Sun Mar 16, 2014 8:15 pm|| |
- Hasume wrote:
Well, as for me, I've been dealing with some japanese from kabuki. They are kind, but they don't seem to want to give much informations about the traditional dances. I don't want to be a maiko-henshin, but I would only love to learn the nihon buyo and other related dances, but I realized that most of japanese people I've been dealing with bar me the way to learn because I'm not japanese.
And I am talking only of japanese that I deal online, because here where I am, I do not have any japanese teachers or japanese people with some knowledges about the matter. They are always very kind and polite, but in a very subtle way they show xenophobia. Because of that, my only option is to learn the traditional dances throught videos, but I don't know many good ones, and this kind of learning is not the best for me so I can develop my full potential. But I don't give up, and I do the best I can with what I have in hand. If someday someone tells me that my dance is faulty and not good, I just have to answer them: "Sorry, but I didn't have a teacher, just my passion. Japanese that could have helped me, barred me the way, so I skirted that barred road and found my own."
Sometimes you walk a lonely path until you find your real destination.
I created with friends some kimono projects that were very welcomed both by westerns and Japaneses, and in fact I had some japanese that were so impressed by that, and thanked me for doing so much for the kimono culture. They said that it was really important that someone would preserve the traditions, specially when in modern Japan less and less people wear kimono. I felt really thankful and blessed to hear that.
The important is never to give up on what you believe, because in the end, the universe will reward you.
|Subject: Western okiya. yea or nay ? Wed May 21, 2014 7:55 pm|| |
Konichiwa. How are the members doing ?
I was very surprised to see this topic added to and you could have knocked me down with a feather when Hatsume-san mentioned she saw Ito-san. She is a wonderful person ! I contacted her about dance fans as I had joined a nichibu class in Queens where I live. Not only did she sell me a brand new set ( pix on Facebook) but she invited me to her home to sell them to me. It seems she gives private lessons there ! I had tried to join her class earlier and was told by the website ( I assume she does not answer all e-mails as she has a secretary) that unless I could dress myself and kneel I could not join the class so I looked elsewhere.
Then I was invited to her house and told feel free to contact her if I had any questions. Needless to say I did take the classes in Queens to get some experience before I spend money to look like a fool in front of Ito-san. In September I will be taking lessons from her. At the performance I saw her at ( 09 or 10 ) she even came from backstage to sign an autograph on the promotional cards. Talk about not being to big to take time for a fan ( admirer not mai ougi )
Kimino Chiyo don't ever give up. I thought I would never find a teacher. I'm going to be 60 years old in September, I walk with a cane due to knee problems and Ito-san is willing to take me on as a private student. The other classes are for her performances which I'm not interested in being on stage. My father used to drive me into NYC every 2 weeks when I was younger to get private lessons from a lady he said was a retired geisha and I thought I would never be that little girl again. I guess 60 is the new 6. Maybe you just haven't found the right person. You have more life ahead of you then you have behind you. Keep reaching for that star
Location : Missouri, United States
|Subject: Re: Western Okiyas - another way of immortalize the Tradition of Geisha? Wed May 21, 2014 8:42 pm|| |
- Komatsu2012 wrote:
- You could have knocked me down with a feather when Hatsume-san mentioned she saw Ito-san. She is a wonderful person ! I contacted her about dance fans as I had joined a nichibu class in Queens where I live. Not only did she sell me a brand new set ( pix on Facebook) but she invited me to her home to sell them to me. It seems she gives private lessons there !
Komatsu-san! It's so good to hear from you! KAMPAI on the lessons!!! Yatta! I am so glad to hear that you are doing well!
Oh congratulations on finding such a wonderful teacher! Yes, I was very thrilled to meet Ito-san after the dance performance. She and her students came out and spoke with the audience and it was really wonderful to meet her. She was incredibly nice to me and complimented me again on my kimono and kitsuke; I'm thrilled to know she was also incredibly nice to you! Good luck on your private lessons, that sounds like such an amazing opportunity! I really hope she comes back to St. Louis next year, as I would love to see her dance again.
You can see some photos of my sisters and I at a JAS sponsored event last weekend on our facebook page. We had the good fortune to be invited by the president of the local branch, and had a wonderful time.
Three Rivers Okiya
My little sister Tsutsujime-san went to Japan this past spring and brought back the mai-ougi we're currently using. I need to find a closer source, though, haha. I did find a wonderful source for Japanese tea ceremony supplies located in Canada, so I'm enjoying having that closer to hand.
Kimino-san, I just heard word that there are some Shamisen teachers who are willing to do lessons over skype - through the internet, you might be able to take lessons from certified instructors! Do not give up, and if I get permission from the instructor I know, I will send you her contact information. There is always a way to make things work. Particularly if you are not working alone. And you, my friends, are clearly not alone!
|Subject: Re: Western Okiyas - another way of immortalize the Tradition of Geisha? Fri May 23, 2014 1:24 am|| |
Konichiwa. Such wonderful news Hatsume-san. I have recently gotten some fans at auction which have what looks like the Miyagawa-cho dance school mon. Needless to say I was thrilled as no one bid against me . Also got some uchiwa that are given out in summer by maiko / geiko. Also no one bid against me.
Enough of my good luck.
Ito-san is having a tea ceremony in NYC in June. There will also be a dance program too. On the flyer is also a shamisen player and a koto player which I'm excited to see as I never experienced koto live, only the zither from India. Check her website. It is Salon Series # 50. Maybe you could come to NYC for that or the koto licence celebration ceremony at the end of June.
Technically Ito-san does not sell fans to non-students so I can see what I can do once classes start this autumn. She offered me several different sets so she has a supply of both new and used. May I ask where Tsutsujime-san acquired her fans ? There are other places besides Kyoto. At the moment I am in contact with a shop in Tokyo to get may beloved tosenkyo 投扇興 . It will even have a custom design as opposed to the sets on Rakuten which have only 1 design. It will be a 3 month wait but that will be worth the time and price. Custom costs.
As for the skype lessons in shamisen you reminded me there is a member of my Kimono Club who teaches on skype if your source does not work out for Chiyo-san. He also has a DVD for sale which I was honored to receive from him. I also have a question for Chiyo-san, You stated you were asking kabuki performer's for nihon buyo lessons and had no success. If you asked to learn Gion Kouta or Kurokami, it may be the reason for their rejection as that is maiko / geiko dance. Not only might there be a language difficulty but you are asking for styles they don't do. Gion Kouta is not just a dance style but also a shamisen music style both are Kyoto based. I mention this as you mentioned maiko henshin which is how it would sound to a professional kabuki trained artist. The 1st dance I learned in class was Kabuki Odori which is a nichibu training dance, my sensei Helen-san was trained in Sōke Fujima style. Ito-san specializes in dance styles including Kabuki, Noh, Okinawan court, Jiuta-mai, and contemporary dances that are created by Sachiyo Ito, is the New York Branch of Taka-ryu Hana no Kai of Okinawan Dance in Naha, Okinawa and the only New York City–based Japanese dance company that performs both Okinawan dance and Japanese classical dance from the Fujima School of Japanese classical dance in Tokyo.
Maybe if you use a different reference you may have better success as Japanese language has many different terms for the same things in different regions. Try writing it down - Nihon buyō (日本舞踊) or nichibu (日舞) - and seeing you write the calligraphy for what you want to learn may help break the ice. Just a suggestion as I have not seen your interaction with any of the people you speak of. I got the calendar from Komomo-san when I wrote a letter in Japanese with card. It took me 3 weeks to copy the calligraphy from Japanese - English dictionary and phrase books, then took it to a Kimono shop and asked one of the sales girls to check my work. She was pleasantly surprised that I was trying to learn calligraphy as an older person as she is young enough to be my daughter. After that I went back a week later and gave her a chopstick rest ( hachi ) to show my appreciation. A small gesture that made a big impression with all the staff. ( I now deal with the owner when it comes to price reductions. ) It was difficult but I was rewarded with the calendar and a level of respect from a Kimono-ya owner. I'm sure word has circulated in the local community.
I wish you luck and don't let anything or anyone turn you around.
Location : Missouri, United States
|Subject: Re: Western Okiyas - another way of immortalize the Tradition of Geisha? || |