Real Geishas I know【Beautiful stories from far away From Japan】
2022-10-18 ｜ TOSHI
It was a long time ago. Without knowing it, my family had a relationship with a ex-geisha.
When my mother was doing a Japanese cultural lesson, she was driving her senior-aged peers to and from the classroom.
Among them were two old women who never spoke to each other and despised one another, and one was the wife of a Buddhist temple priest.
The other is — let’s call her name “Tomoko”. Tomoko was a widow and lived with her son his wife and their family.
Tomoko and the wife of a Buddhist temple priest, both of them would claim,
“You should pick me up first, not her.”
So my mother was put in a difficult situation.
She did not know why she got along so badly. However, one day, a man in the same class said to my mother,
“You came to be married from somewhere else, so you don’t know. Tomoko used to be a geisha.”
“Certainly, my town had a prosperous Karyukai. A long time ago, a popular young geisha from this rural area would go to Kyoto and become a geisha there, as Kyoto is the Mecca for geishas (a geisha in Kyoto, and young people are called maiko, senior geiko).
It seems that there was a case one was able to skip the dance examination required.
When my mother got married, there were only a few real geisha from the old days, and they were just walking around town.
One day, I was surprised when that person appeared in a famous magazine in Tokyo.
I don’t know if Tomoko was a geisha in the town or if she was a stranger there.
I knew her voice because she liked my mother and she called us often. She was a cheerful person and I loved it when she would always say, “I appreciate your mother, thank you.”
“She was a geisha! Wow, that’s cool. I’d love to hear about it.”
When I said that, the whole my family, especially her mother,”Don’t ask about that. Let’s pretend we know nothing.” I agreed.
That being said, my feelings were mixed.
In Tokyo and Kyoto, there are opportunities to see and talk to younger geisha in action, but not so much in my town. I don’t know how much it would cost to meet and it might be expensive, and I had no connections to meet someone that was a geisha.
Yet–I’ve heard a short recording of a local geisha singing a song, and it brought me to tears with how beautiful, captivating, and otherworldly. I wanted to hear it forever. It was simply another world.
At the same time, my friend knew a former geisha, who was so badly injured that she couldn’t have children, so she treated my friend as her own child even if she could not have one herself.
When I remembered that story, I thought that I shouldn’t bring up to her that “You must have been a geisha.”
She was a very strong and cute person, and when my mother used to eat udon (a Japanese noodle dish) with her, she would say, “You have to drink soup, too. ”
Afterward, she said, “It’s not enough!”
Even though she almost died from illness and old age a few times she was resilient and energetic, she lived each time after every hospitalization, Once, she even handed out a 10,000-yen bill to every person who went to visit her in the hospital, and she forgot about it.
Once, I ran into her and she stood up and held my hand. Even in her old age, she wore lipstick and was well-groomed.
She liked feeding the pigeons bread in the park, but when my mother was too busy to take her out to the park.
She said, “Because you didn’t take me to the park, the bread spoiled!”
she would whine as if she was a child.
When he finally passed away in her 90s, my mother came home from her funeral and said,
“I heard Tomoko got married three times!”
I was astonished. She lived through such turbulent moments of history as well!
I thought about how I wanted to ask her about her life as a geisha, but I was glad I didn’t ask her. I came to realize that some things are better left unanswered.
⇓⇓Continued in Part 2⇓⇓
Real Geishas I know Part 2【Beautiful stories from far away From Japan】
※TOSHI, I had been a writer who mainly focuses on food for around 5 years. I am looking for media that will publish my essays about Japan, gourmet Mystery novel (※) and #日本人が中華街でつぶやくJapanese tweets in Chinatown (serialized on X (Twitter) and this site), etc. Feel free to contact me via ClubRosy’s X (Twitter) DM. https://twitter.com/ClubRosy
The articles I wrote
(※)The casebook of Tokyo gourmet writer
[The case of Beautiful Girl Cooking Expert]
amazon TOSHI’s book（竹井夙 Toshi TAKEI’s book） [美しい人々 Beautiful people] etc.
The casebook of gourmet writer
[Mystery around Chinese tea]
Helpful feedback is always welcome!
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