Thursday, September 15, 2011

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

Somehow, I have made it home without being too exhausted to post the next part of the series! In case you're wondering, there is also a Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3A. Part 3A contains information on Hikizuri, Obi, Obi Age, Obi Jime, Obi Dome, and Han Eri.

This section contains information on juban footwear, kanzashi, wigs, makeup, and accessories

  • Juban: There is good news and bad news concerned juban. The good news is that red and pink juban are extremely common. It’s actually not that hard to find red ones with white patterns either, though the patterns may not be as delicate as those of a typical maiko’s juban. The bad news is that regular kimono juban aren’t always long enough for a maiko or geisha outfit, and it is very important that the juban reach your ankles because it will be seen when the skirt is worn or carried properly. In this case you might have to look for a two-piece juban. These can be a little harder to come by in the right colors, but they are out there. You might wind up getting a solid red one rather than one with a white pattern on red. Or you could see if you could have one made from someplace like Bokunan-do, which offers a couple of different options of pink or red and white fabric. Of course, having a piece custom-made will be a bit costly. Generally speaking, juban are extremely easy to find. They come up on eBay all the time and places like Ichiroya and Yamatoku typically have a good stock of them mixed in with the kimono. Keep in mind that while maiko are pretty much restricted to red, geisha can also wear pink and I have seen one picture of a geisha with a blue juban, so if you really must substitute another color for your geisha outfit you probably can.
  • Footwear: Maiko typically wear high wooden sandals known as okobo or pokkuri. Geisha usually wear zori. Sometimes you will see a maiko in zori or a geisha in certain kinds of geta (but not okobo). Both wear white tabi, even with geta. Okobo (or okobo-like shoes), zori, geta, and tabi can be found all over, even on eBay. If you buy okobo, make sure you double-check the size so you don't accidentally buy a child's size! Girls sometimes wear child-sized okobo for holidays like shichigosan, and while these okobo can often be distinguished from maiko ones by the color (they might be red, but maiko ones are always plain wood or black lacquer) and/or the presence of a painted pattern, there are always exceptions to that.
  • Kanzashi: If you’re trying to pull off the geisha look you have it super-easy. For a regular, not super-formal engagement, a geisha will probably wear a nice comb. Her wig will also be decorated with white threads and a silver band at the back. Easy, yes? Especially since pretty combs are easy to find. For the maiko look you’re going to have it much more difficult, and much of what you wear will be determined by the hairstyle you choose and whether the look you’re going for is more junior or senior. The junior look is probably going to be the easiest to emulate even without buying authentic maiko kanzashi, and there are plenty of instructions out there for styling your hair or a wig in the wareshinobu style (unfortunately, unless you have the book “Nihongami no Sekai,” I haven’t found instructions for other styles). As you may have noticed from my personal collection, it is indeed possible to buy authentic maiko kanzashi if that is an investment you are willing to make. The tsumami kanzashi set alone will run you somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 yen though (not counting shipping fees and not taking things like price increases or exchange rates into account).
  • Wigs: You CAN in fact buy yourself a geisha or maiko wig. Geisha wear the takashimada hair style popular among brides, and katsura styled in takashimada do come up for sale sometimes on places like eBay. Some have wedding kanzashi attached that you might want to try removing, they tend to be expensive, and they often need some tender loving care to make them wearable again. But they do exist. You could also buy a new version, or wigs of maiko hairstyles like wareshinobu, from places like the Japanese seller Outlet Wig (you may need to go through a shopping service like Celga or Noppin to shop with them). These are of course very expensive.
  • Makeup: Maiko and geisha both use a white base with red and black applied in specific ways to the lips and eyes. Maiko may also add some pink to their makeup, especially around the eyes, but it isn’t always noticeable and you could probably get away without it if you are concerned about overdoing it. The goal here is to NOT look like the various You Tube “geisha makeup” and “geisha-style makeup” tutorials (if you’re at all familiar with these you probably know exactly what I’m talking about). The only place I know of to get authentic maiko makeup is Hannari-ya, where you can buy individual parts or you can buy a full set with makeup and the brushes to apply it. I have heard of other places like Rakuten selling it in the past too. This is going to eat up a few hundred dollars, so unless you plan on making a living out of your geisha costume or you absolutely must have the 100% authentic look you probably don’t want to invest in this. And if you DO decide to get authentic stuff, make sure you at least get the abura for under the makeup and the proper white foundation to put over the abura.
  • Accessories: Though none of these are required, you might want to include one or more of them in your costume. Maiko and geisha often carry a large bag consisting of a woven basket-style bottom and a cloth draw-string top. They use these bags (which we could just call kago but I could have sworn they have a special name) to carry their supplies, like fans or supplies for hair and makeup touch-ups. These can be hard to come by. Bokunan-do sells some, but I believe they are all child-sized. You might also be able to get one through Ikuokaya, and it might be worth checking on Rakuten or keeping an eye on Yahoo Japan Auctions. Maiko and geisha may also carry one or two fans for dancing, called maiogi. You can find maiogi for sale on Bokunan-do (where they fall under the sensu or mai-sensu category) and you may be able to find them elsewhere sometimes. I have seen them pop up on Ichiroya and eBay from time to time. If you want real maiogi, you have to be careful to make sure you aren’t getting decorative fans, which often have the same style as maiogi. But dancing fans have 10 spines while decorative fans only have 9. Paper umbrellas are another common accessory. The red versions are very common, but if you take a look at the picture of the geiko I posted in Part 2 you will notice that they can come in other colors as well. You can probably find these umbrellas on Rakuten. You can also get paper umbrellas from Bokunan-do. If you decide to get an umbrella, please be careful about taking it out in the rain or snow! Umbrellas that are made for use outdoors in the weather can probably handle a drizzle or light snow fall (I don’t know how strong they are to be honest so maybe they can handle more than that), but umbrellas that are just made for stage performances or only for use as parasols may not be suitable for use outdoors during bad weather. And since an authentic, good-quality paper umbrella can be expensive, you don’t want yours ruined by rain.

1 comment:

  1. The hairstyle that geiko and brides wear is different but most people who wouldn't know any better cant tell. The bigger part of the bun on the top is flatter for geiko then for brides. You can get the make up on noppin or on hanari-ya(ebay shop). The bag is called a take kago but if you get one its traditional for they to actually have things inside of them like accessories or tools for the trade so if you must just stuff them a bit. There are special umbrellas that are made just for the rain and they are different from the lighter parasols that are meant to just block the sun. I by the way love this post ^_^