A blog post about Japanese geishas and kimonos

I found these articles in October and thought I’d share them.

The first one, from Vogue, is an interview with a Japanese kimono culture expert and she shares her beauty and wellness secrets some of which had been followed by “Geishas and Japanese women over 100 years ago”:

On her detailed skincare routine

“In the morning, firstly, I wipe my face with cotton soaked in plenty of rose water. Secondly I apply a serum, toner, and the Kyoto Secrets’ Beni Balm on the lip, around the eyes and smile lines to reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles. Lastly, I apply an oil and sunscreen. At night, when I wash my face with fluffy soap foam, I use a silk puff to gently caress the foam away. Fine Japanese silk helps to smooth the skin. From the aristocrats of 1100 years ago to the Geishas of 100 years ago, it is understandable that they used to wash their faces with silk cloth to keep their smooth fair skin. Other than sunscreen, it’s almost the same routine as in the morning but I put on a face mask regularly. The neck and the backs of the hands show our age easily, so I take the same care of my face. I use a silk puff to cleanse my body and slather body lotion all over.”

On home remedies

“I apply Sakekasu (white liquor solids produced during the process of making Sake) that is used to make a face mask. The hands of Sake craftsmen, even men in their sixties, are white and beautiful, and many of them look like women in their twenties! Kyoto is the best place in Japan to make Sake, so we can get a lot of good quality Sakekasu. Women in Kyoto have been using face masks with Sakekasu for a long time, which makes their skin look moist.

For my hair mask, I use a mixture of eggs, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, honey, etc., depending on the conditions at the time. Especially for the special hairstyles I do for Kimono, I use more oil or spray than usual. Applying this hair pack before shampooing my hair will loosen up the hardened hair smoothly.”

The second one looks at the “Niigata Geigi”, a group of geishas from Furumachi in Niigata City, far from the more commonly known region of geishas (Kyoto):

Niigata’s geisha tradition dates back more than 200 years to the Edo era (1603-1867) when the city was a major port on the Kitamaebune (literally, “north-bound ships”) shipping route that connected Osaka with Hokkaido. Thousands of cargo vessels made this journey each year. As the capital of Japan’s largest rice producing area, Niigata became the busiest port on the Sea of Japan coast. By the early Meiji Era (1868-1912), Niigata was among the wealthiest, most populous parts of the nation.

A thriving entertainment district grew up in the Furumachi neighbourhoood of the city to cater for the countless wealthy merchants and other visitors. Geishas (or geigis, in the local dialect) began performing at Furumachi’s many teahouses, ozashiki (banqueting halls) and ryotei (luxury restaurants). Politicians and even members of the Imperial family figured among the clientele. By 1884, nearly 400 geigis were performing in Furumachi.

Related to kimonos and Japanese female culture: Chiso is a 466-year old Japanese kimono house and Seitō, a 1911 Japanese magazine exclusively for women.

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