Geishas leave their precious environment to recreate endangered art

Geishas has just left their famous tea house in Kyoto, where they have served the secret of their borders for centuries to join the giant Netflix series Makanai: Cooking for Mike’s House. The production of these eight episodes was entrusted to the excellent director Hirokaz Kore-eda, who in 2018. He won the Golden Palm Branch at the Cannes Film Festival for his film Thieves. He was the first Japanese director in 21 years to achieve this distinctiveness. On the small screen, he will tell you about the behind the scenes of the solemn life of geishas. The action takes place in their neighborhood in Kyoto and follows a woman who becomes a Makana (food-producing person) in a house where geisha apprentices live together. Kyoto Foundation spokeswoman Naoki Enomoto said she hoped the series would “help attract more young women to this path and keep the performance of traditional Japanese art alive.” The geisha ritual, which is one, was celebrated in private. For centuries, Kyoto geishas kept their art behind closed paper doors for several privileged people.

Behind the scenes of the new series “Makanai: Cooking for Mike’s House”.

Survive by maintaining your brand image

Dressed in a graceful kimono, they danced harmoniously, played the string shamisen – a kind of banjo, and interacted with food and drinks. Today, other times, other customs, society, while remaining selective, have turned to other entertainments. “To my knowledge, the world of geishas is trying to find a way to survive while maintaining its brand image,” said Kimiko Takeyoshi, 48, a former geisha author of books on the subject. In this context, many geishas left this intimacy last year to perform in public. The demonstration of their rites, which, according to tradition, takes place in conditions of intimacy, was utterly unprecedented. However, new socio-cultural conditions and Covid-19 pushed them aside a bit, forcing them to resort to new means of survival. Kyoto, which until 1868. was the imperial capital of Japan, became the capital of geishas, ​​whose golden age reached the end of the 1980s. So the cost of a visit to the tea house for a moment with a geisha was about $ 160. per hour, plus $ 80-160 for food and beverages. And a similar amount as a gift for a musical performance and traditional dancing. Today, with the decline of this art of Japanese hospitality, these very special kind of housewives had to break their customs in order to appeal to the public. In this regard, the Wall Street Journal notes that in 2021. During Christmas, more than twenty geishas moved their dances and music to a large Kyoto hotel.

Amazing geisha with a kimono, her face as always white. Illustration photo of Bigstock

“Geisha is a living work of art”

During this evening, they did on a much larger scale than usual in private. “The young women moved to the tables to meet customers because they enjoyed the festive menu, handed out business cards and posed for photos. The scene was reminiscent of a country singer’s dinner performances offering a form of entertainment that had become popular in Japan. Nevertheless, the guests left here with a local delicacy and an autographed napkin, ”says the American daily. “Extension could be a good formula to attract more people. But I hope that there will not be too much class in it, “the former geisha M. Takeyoshi commented on the initiative with mixed feelings. Moreover, in order to survive these difficult times, geishas did not hesitate to appear in advertising inserts that matched their identities, but, as Ms. Takeyoshi would say, did not change their position. As Yuki Inoue rightly pointed out, the author of Geisha’s Memoirs: “Being a geisha means being seen as a living work of art. »

Acquiring this status requires years of apprenticeship, discipline, and five years of quasi-military training that includes the art of speaking, forcing the eyes and the fan to speak, moving with a very sophisticated kimono, and ultimately acquiring this complex. and time-consuming white makeup technique. All this makeup has to mean, as described in the famous anonymous author’s quote: “She paints her face to hide her face, her eyes are deep, a geisha is an artist in a floating world, she dances, sings, entertains you. And everything else is a shadow, everything else is a secret. »

Geishas has just left their famous tea house in Kyoto, where they have served the secret of their borders for centuries to join the giant Netflix series Makanai: Cooking for Mike’s House. The production of these eight episodes was entrusted to the great filmmaker Hirokazu Kore-edai, who in 2018. won the Golden Palm Branch …

Hubert Gildon

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