December 8, 2011

Hatsune, a Furisode-san in Tokyo

Furisode–san means the girl wearing a furisode (the most formal style of kimono worn by unmarried women in Japan).  They are professional kimono dressers; they look like Maikos (appretice Geishas), because their make-up is the same and they are hired to entertain guests during dinners or parties. They are not Maikos, though: because they don't live in an okiya (the lodging house where maikos and geishas usually live).  There are 12 Furisode-san in the Asakusa district of Tokyo.  

Hatsune, 22 years old,  has been a Furisode-san for two years. I met her at Ichimatsu, a fabulous kaiseki in Asakusa. She works there almost every night. Being the only English speaking Furisode-san, she is invited every time there’s a foreign guest, even if she told me that Furisode-san usually meet Japanese people, as Western gentlemen are usually "confused" about the nature of geisha profession.  

Hatsune’s make up requires almost an hour

She paints her face white
Her eyes and eyebrows have a noticeable amount of red.
She partially paints her lips in crimson.
And she always wears her wig with some flower ornaments.

Hatsune works every night and she usually spends two hours with customers: during the first hour, she talks with them, thereafter she dances three different Japanese melodies. There’s a strict rule- said Hatsune: after 10pm Furisode-san have to leave the dinner and go back to their own home. Hatsune is still living with her parents. 

Sometimes Hatsune works with other Furisode-san. By chance, the night I met her, there was a party in the same place and other three Furisode-san were there.

Ichika, that means Rainbow
Chiyo, that means Thousand Generations or Worlds
Kotone, that means Harp Sound

Hatsune’s plan after her retirement (in three years) is to travel around the world and to stop in New York to introduce the character of Furisode-san to the city. Hatsune means precisely First Sound. Let’s wish her all the best!

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