Wednesday, September 14, 2011

So You Want to Be a Geisha for Halloween (Part 3A)

This is Part 3A of a multi-part series on putting together a reasonably authentic maiko or geisha costume for Halloween. If you're looking for the other parts to the series, you can find them at Part 1 and Part 2

In today's post I'll be talking a bit about where you can look for different parts of your costumes. I was going to post information on finding and/or making substitutes as well, but this topic alone turned out to be a monster of a post and I decided to post it in two parts (hey, a series within a series!). I'll see if I can post 3B tomorrow, but it's one of my two back-to-back 10-hour school and work days so the next part might not go up until Friday.

3) Where to buy authentic items (part A: Hikizuri, Obi, Obi Age, Obi Jime, Obi Dome, and Han Eri)

Unfortunately, if you want to buy 100% authentic versions of some of these items, you are literally going to be spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on one single piece -- even for very small things. A full maiko tsumami kanzashi set, for example, can run you $300 or more depending on the exchange rate and the specific set in question. If you need the kanoko dome to wear with a wareshinobu hairstyle, expect to pay hundreds for an authentic one. An obi dome can run you well over $1000. If you really want to go shopping, there are some places where you might find authentic items. But keep in mind that for some of them, you may want or need to use a substitute, which we will discuss later.
  • Hikizuri: Authentic maiko and geisha hikizuri or susohiki rarely come up for sale, and when they do they tend to be very expensive -- even if they are in awful, unwearable condition. Maiko hikizuri are especially rare and expensive. If you want to look for a hikizuri or susohiki, Ichiroya sometimes has a few for sale. You may also be able to find some on eBay or Yahoo Japan Auctions (be aware that you will need to use a shopping service like Celga or Noppin to shop there). It wouldn’t hurt to check with sellers like Yamatoku or Shinei either. Bokunan-do makes stage costumes, including a couple of with furisode sleeves that could potentially be used for maiko, but use caution. Many of their pieces aren’t really appropriate for a modern geisha or maiko look (at least not if you’re tying to emulate Kyoto style) and at least one of their pieces looks like it is for a specific character, not a generic maiko or geisha look. Also, please use caution when buying hikizuri! Just because it’s long enough doesn’t mean it is authentic! If you’re unsure about a piece, seek advice before you buy.
  • Obi: Maiko wear a special type of obi called a darari obi. These are some of the rarest maiko items out there, possibly because they tend to get recycled into geisha obi, and also tend to be extremely expensive. If you want to look for one, they have popped up on eBay (just be careful not to get taken in by a scam) and Yahoo Japan Auctions before. I believe I have heard of Shinei having them once in a while. I can’t remember if Ichiroya has ever had one. Ichiroya and Bokunan-do both sell darari-style pre-tied obi, but I believe that in both cases the tails are actually too short for a proper Kyoto maiko look (they may be fine if you aren’t going for the Kyoto look or if you’re going for a minarai look though). Geisha wear obi that can be tied in the otaiko musubi -- usually fukuro obi, but you could probably also get away with a nice nagoya obi.
  • Obi age: Maiko typically wear a red and silver obi age, while geisha can wear pretty much any color (though red is still a safe bet, as is white or pink). I actually don’t see maiko obi age come up for sale that often, though you might be able to get one through someplace like Ikuokaya or Hannari-ya if you must have a brand-new one. For a geisha, you should be able to get away with using any high-quality obi age in an appropriate color for your ensemble. You might want to avoid the full-shibori ones meant for use with furisode, but one with a few small sections of pattern done in shibori should be fine.
  • Obi jime: Maiko typically wear a flat but wide and very colorful obi jime. Geisha can wear regular flat obi jime or can wear very round, thick versions of obi jime similar to those used for weddings. Again, maiko obi jime are tough to find but could probably be bought through someplace like Ikuokaya or Hannari-ya. For a geisha, you could buy just a regular nice obi jime and use that.
  • Obi dome: Fortunately for the geisha look, there is no obi dome! Unfortunately for the maiko look, you need a huge one. If you have the money (and like I said these things can cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars) you can look into getting one from Ikuokaya. They have “cheap” versions, but those are still expensive. A maiko-size obi dome popped up on eBay recently, but that was unusual.
  • Han eri: A geisha’s han eri is usually white and fairly simple. White han eri are actually a pretty basic part of everyday kitsuke even for non-geisha, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a suitable plain white han eri. Senior maiko also wear white han eri, but they typically have heavy white embroidery all over them. More junior maiko wear red han eri with white embroidered designs, and the more white on the collar the more senior the maiko. Every so often you will find a red and white maiko’s han eri up for sale, but they can be very expensive (I know, I know, you totally didn’t see that one coming). This is especially the case if you should try to find a new one somewhere. I run into them sometimes on eBay or Ichiroya.

To be continued...

1 comment:

  1. I read all this postings about the "Maiko and Geisha cosplay" ... at the end I think that a Geisha coslay is really more cheaper than a Maiko one <3 Looking forward to the next post =)