Monday, July 10, 2006

My Memoirs of a Geisha: The Latest Photoshoot

Hair pinned and pulled, face painted and powdered, I slipped into a 38-year-old Vietnamese pure silk gown originally crafted and worn by a real Vietnamse woman.

While Geisha women are Japanese, rather than Vietnamese, we wanted to capture the essence of the Geisha women. "Gei" means arts or performance in Japanese. "Sha" means people. Geisha are professional hostesses who entertain guests through various performing arts. Geisha girls and women are not ordinary hostesses and are not prostitutes. Geisha girls and women are trained in a number of traditional skills; Japanese ancient dance, singing, playing a three stringed instrument called shamisen, flower arrangement, wearing a kimono, tea ceremony, calligraphy, conversation, alcohol serving manners, and more. Geisha girls and women are talented Japanese women who patiently go through extensive training.

Young girls who wish to become a geisha girl are usually introduced to an o-chaya through someone who has a connection to the teahouse. The head woman of an o-chaya, called okami, interviews the girl with her parents, explaining how the training goes. If the okami accepts the girl as an apprentice to her o-chaya, the girl can begin her training immediately and live in the o-chaya if she has graduated from a middle school. Once a girl becomes a geisha trainee, she can't quit for 5 to 6 years. While helping with the chores and errands of the house, the young girl learns customs and social skills and begins music and dance lessons.