Edited Transcripts

Karyukai! with Umeno Okiya

Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: We are most fortunate to have today’s presenter, as arrangements had to be made on fairly short notice.
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: They are Umeno Okiya in Kamishichiken, Kyoto, Japan. They were founded in 2020 in SL, but emulate the real life Umeno Okiya in Kyoto. This is a community of Geisha, performers of traditional entertainment arts in Japanese culture.
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Umehina-san, the stage is yours.
Umehina 梅ひな bows politely.
Umechō 梅蝶 bows humbly.
Kane 鐘 bows formally.
Umehina 梅ひな: Konnichiwa, Otano moshimasu! Good afternoon and it is a pleasure to meet everyone.
Umehina 梅ひな: My sisters and I thank you very much for having us today. We are delighted to have been invited to this wonderful sim, and hope that you find this afternoon an eye opening, entertaining, and educational experience.
Umehina 梅ひな: The geiko profession began in the 1750’s, when a courtesan decided she no longer wanted to offer favors of a certain nature to her patrons, but wanted to focus on the arts of dancing and entertaining instead.
Umehina 梅ひな: She did so, and other members of the Kyoto entertainment industry followed.
Umehina 梅ひな: Before this, the profession most closely resembled a group of men who danced and entertained before the courtesans would at nightly parties.
Umehina 梅ひな: This started a shift in the entertainment for Kyoto’s elite.
Umehina 梅ひな: From this shift, the social standards for the Karyukai were developed. Five hanamachi, or neighborhoods emerged and created sub-units of our society for themselves.
Umehina 梅ひな: Gion Kobu, Gion Higashi, Miyagawacho, Pontocho, and our own, Kamishichiken. Kamishichiken means ‘Seven Upper Houses’ and is the oldest Kagai, or district, in Kyoto.
Umehina 梅ひな: Inner rank structures were formed starting with Shikomi, Minarai, Maiko, Geiko, and their Okaasan.
Umehina 梅ひな: Shikomi are the youngest members of the geiko house, or Okiya. They will stay shikomi for around a year while they get used to the day to day life in Kyoto, as it can be a big adjustment for everyone.
Umehina 梅ひな: Minarai are in a trial period. They will wear kimono and makeup to different events with their older sisters, so that they may experience first hand the life they are about to embark upon.
Late nights, little sleep, and lots of dancing will rule their lives for the next several years.
Umehina 梅ひな: As Maiko, they start working nearly every night, only having 2 nights a month off.
During the day, they will go to dance lessons, classes, and get ready for their evening.
Umehina 梅ひな: Sometimes, we don’t get home until 2 or 3 AM!
Umehina 梅ひな: Finally, as Geiko, we are considered to have mastered all of the lessons and training that Maiko take on, and we will work as much as them, but with a little more freedom.
Umehina 梅ひな: Okaasan, or “Mother’s” are the directors of the Okiya. She will make appointments for her girls, coordinate their kimono, choose their hair ornaments, and collect money from their work. They are also responsible for the wellbeing of their Okiya, and are there to help them succeed.
Umehina 梅ひな: I started my journey in the karyukai, or The Flower and Willow World in 2015, and I became a Geiko in 2020. I, as well as most of us, am a Tachikata, or Dancer. As you can see, while Umecho and I are both similar, there are some obvious differences.
Umehina 梅ひな: I am wearing a wig while Umecho wears her own hair styled in a hairstyle called Wareshinobu.
Umehina 梅ひな gestures to Umecho, showing the difference
Umehina 梅ひな: I wear minimal hair ornaments while Umecho wears many flowers and hanging bits in her hair.
Umehina 梅ひな: My makeup is a little more subdued and elegant, while there is a lot more pink and red in Umecho’s makeup.
Umehina 梅ひな: Our kimono are different, in that I have less pattern on my clothing, while Umecho is very bright and colorful. Her sleeves are much longer as well, and her obi is tied in a dangling knot down her back.
Umehina 梅ひな: Now, if it would please you, Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a dance for you.
Umehina 梅ひな: Gion Kouta tells a story of Kyoto, or Gion as it was once called. The Ballad of Gion tells of all four seasons in Kyoto. It is probably the best known dance, as every kagai, or neighborhood, has their own style. Please enjoy Gion Kouta!

Photos of this Salon and Umeno Okiya Dancing can be enjoyed in the art gallery.

The Art Gallery: Karyukai! with Umeno Okiya

Umehina 梅ひな: Now, if there are any questions, please, we would love to answer them.
Liz Wilner: is there a significance to each of the movements in the dance?
Janet Rhiadra: Who made your kimono?
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: How many sisters are in your okiya?
Harperlass: I notice you are wearing a white kimono, do colors have significance in kimono choices?
Umehina 梅ひな: Yes, there are dances that have significant movements. Sometimes I gestured to my sister, for instance, or shielded myself from the cold when we were dancing in the winter part of the song.
Umehina 梅ひな: My Kimono applier was made by Toshiha of Zashiki-gi. The base is made by Isodel.
Janet Rhiadra: thank you it is lovely
Ephemeria: is there a age limit for being a geisha?
Steadman Kondor: What are some of the different kinds of songs that is sung in geisha performances?
Umehina 梅ひな: We currently 5 girls in our Okiya. Umecha, our Okaasan, myself, Umecho, Kane, and Miyu.
Umehina 梅ひな: Our Kimono color is significant, indeed! Though the motif is the more important aspect. We are wearing Sakura, or cherry blossoms because cherry trees bloom in April!
Liz Wilner: I have always heard there is also a special tea ceremony done by geishas…can you tell us of that?
Umehina 梅ひな: An Age limit, no. we can work until we would like to retire, though we must be at least 15 to be a shikomi^^
Ephemeria: thnak you
Ephemeria: thank of course
Harperlass: Are there those that specialize only in music? Is your shamisen player also a geisha?
Umehina 梅ひな: We have several kinds of songs, some are for games and drinking, others for dances, then we have more intricate songs for Odori, the larger dance recitals.
Steadman Kondor: How interesting! Thank you
Umehina 梅ひな: We do have a tea ceremony, and we perform when requested, and before Odori and large special events!
Liz Wilner: wonderful 🙂
Janet Rhiadra: Do you ever use western style dances ?
Umehina 梅ひな: Some of us do indeed specialize in only music, they are called Jikata. And the young lady who played shamisen for us is actually a well studied Shikomi. She will debut this year, in fact!
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Congratulations to her.
Umehina 梅ひな: Iie, only in our bedrooms when BTS comes on^^
Harperlass: Her playing was flawless
Kane 鐘: ookini san dosu ^^
Kane 鐘 blushes softly in the corner
Umehina 梅ひな smiles
Calla Iris Waydelich grins
Wulfriðe Blitzen smiles
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Ach, this BTS again.
Umehina 梅ひな giggles softly behind her hand
Harperlass: giggles softly
Liz Wilner: are geishas allowed to marry or have children?
Janet Rhiadra: smiles with gratitude for the lovely performance
Wulfriðe Blitzen: oh good question, I’ve always wondered that
Umehina 梅ひな smiles “Well, nothing forbids us, though we will have to leave the profession if we do. We like to think we are married to our profession.”
Harperlass: How was Liz Dalby’s book received by the geisha community? DO you think it is possible for a non Japanese to succeed as Geisha?
Liz Wilner: I see…so it is preferred that none wed or have children
Umehina 梅ひな: However, we can stay in the karyukai in other ways like owning tea houses, or other businesses that associate.
Umechō 梅蝶 nods and smiles.
Liz Wilner: I’m still fascinated about the tea ceremony…is it a complicated ceremony?
Umehina 梅ひな thinks “Well, with Liza, she had a very specific case. She was studying Anthropology and it was suggested by the Okiya she was living with that she get better first hand experience. There are a select few non-Japanese Geisha, but none in Kyoto. Tokyo has a few, I believe.”
Calla Iris Waydelich loved Tokyo ♥
Umehina 梅ひな: It can be a complicated ceremony to learn, but it is a wonderful time for reflection as well.
Umehina 梅ひな smiles, “Are there any other questions?”
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: We have about 15 minutes left.
Liz Wilner: what is the oldest still operating house today?
Calla Iris Waydelich: Your dance was a portrayal of the seasons. Are there other common themes and stories portrayed by your dances?
Emilly Shatner-Orr: And are there any new works performed, or are they all based on traditional ones?
Harperlass: You mentioned that originally there were male dancers that performed prior to the courtesans…has that tradition survived? Or in different form?
Umehina 梅ひな: It is hard to say who is the oldest, but I would have to suggest that Daimonji might be the oldest Okiya. Records are not kept well, since some okiya close and reopen and such.
Umehina 梅ひな: Seasons are very popular themes, heartbreak, love, and samurai are very popular as well.
Calla Iris Waydelich: Oh, beautiful. ♥
Janet Rhiadra: What is the origin of that form of dance ?
Umehina 梅ひな: There are a few male members of the Karyukai, and they are called Taikomochi. One might pop up every once in a while but I haven’t seen one for a long time.
Umehina 梅ひな: Originally, Kabuki. Each district has their own dance school though, so each district differs slightly from others. Some use more fans, some are slower, some are more feet work than others, and some are very movement heavy while others are more from the expressions in the face.
Calla Iris Waydelich: ㋡
Janet Rhiadra: interesting
Harperlass: Is it difficult to maintain the vocal range necessary to classical Japanese music?
Harperlass: Does age affect performance for vocalists?
Umehina 梅ひな shakes her head “We look at aging as another form of beauty. Voices change over time and it reflects in your performance, and we value that.
Calla Iris Waydelich: Aging as another form of beauty. That is wonderful. ♥
Janet Rhiadra: smiles
Harperlass: Smiles gratefully at such an appreciative attitude
Ephemeria: That is wonderful
Umehina 梅ひな smiles “At the age of 91, Yuko Asakusa is the oldest Geisha in Japan. She continues to work to this day as well!”
Calla Iris Waydelich: !!
Lyonn Parx gasps and claps
Wildstar Beaumont: wow !
Ephemeria: admirable
Janet Rhiadra: does she still dance?
Harperlass: Bow deeply and hopes to benefit from the example of such a life
Umehina 梅ひな: Actually, I apologize, I misspoke. She is 98. And she doesn’t dance much but she is an expert shamisen player.
Calla Iris Waydelich drops her drink
Umechō 梅蝶 hides a smile.
Harperlass: Stunning accomplishment
Liz Wilner: goodness!!
Ephemeria: even more an example for us I think
Harperlass: My fingers are stiffening at 57, she has my admiration
Janet Rhiadra: smiles ….Dancers in the west age out due to injury …I assume it is the same for you.
Umechō 梅蝶 nods slightly.
Umehina 梅ひな smiles “We usually are able to transition to a much more lenient schedule as we grow in the profession.”
Harperlass: I had heard conversation is a major art form for Geisha, sure that is an area where age is a benefit
Janet Rhiadra: (speaking as a former dancer herself)
Umechō 梅蝶 nods with a big smile.
Umehina 梅ひな smiles and turns her attention to the Baron, “I think we can take one last question.” she says
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Certain, Umehina-san.
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Anyone?
Janet Rhiadra: I just want to thank them for such a beautiful performance
Calla Iris Waydelich: Hear hear!
Wulfriðe Blitzen: Nodsnods
Umehina 梅ひな smiles and blushes beneath her makeup
Calla Iris Waydelich: Applause!!
Harperlass: Yes, thank you for sharing your art with us
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: An excellent idea. If you wish to tip our lovely presenters, the tipbot is on the front of the stage.
Harperlass: applauds
Liz Wilner: yes…the presentation was most interesting a delightful…many thanks 🙂
Liz Wilner: *and
Ephemeria: thank you all for this interesting lecture
Umehina 梅ひな smiles
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: I would like to thank Umehina-san and Umeno Okiya for their generosity and time today. It has been a most interesting Salon.
Kane 鐘 bows formally.
Umehina 梅ひな bows politely.
Umechō 梅蝶 bows humbly.
Janet Rhiadra: yes indeed
Emilly Shatner-Orr: Indeed.
Wulfriðe Blitzen: A wonderful talk, thank you
Ephemeria: indeed it was
Harperlass: Bows in return
Umehina 梅ひな: Thank you so very much for having us. We are so happy to be here.
Ephemeria: respectful bow
Umechō 梅蝶: ^͜^
Umechō 梅蝶: ookini
Kane 鐘: ookini san dosu
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: I do have one last question.
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: You are all plum blossoms?
Lyonn Parx bows in appreciation
Umehina 梅ひな nods and turns “Of course, My Lord. We are all named with the same naming line. Ume-…Umecha, Umehina, Umecho, etc.”
Steadman Kondor: Thank you guests for your information talk and wonderful performance
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: So the Fraulein who will debut soon, she will get an ume- name then?
Liz Wilner: Arigato gozaimasu!
Umehina 梅ひな nods “Hei! She will have a name chosen by the monk at the shrine.”
Emilly Shatner-Orr nods.
Calla Iris Waydelich: Neato!
Janet Rhiadra: lovely
Kane 鐘: hei ^_^ once i pas my exam and become a minarai, my okaasan will take me to the shrine for my new name 🙂
Janet Rhiadra: 🙂
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: A whole bouquet.
Wulfriðe Blitzen: Ladies, would you be so kind as to pass on landmarks so folks can visit?
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Excellent idea.
Liz Wilner: oh yes…please
Janet Rhiadra: smiles ….please
Umehina 梅ひな smiles “Thank you so much for having us today. We are so delighted to have been invited. Please, contact me with any other questions you think of, and please come visit us in Kyoto!”
Umehina 梅ひな: We also have a patron group as well, if you have a space for a group, we host Ozashiki, or parties several times a month!
Calla Iris Waydelich: Oh, thank you!
Umehina 梅ひな: Umeno Ochaya
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Danke for the landmark.
Ephemeria: Thank you Umehina-san
Wildstar Beaumont: thank you for the landmark
Ephemeria: excuse me Umecho-san
Wulfriðe Blitzen: Thank you
Umehina 梅ひな smiles and nods “Thank you all again, it has been a pleasure, now we need to travel back to Kyoto so we can be ready for week ahead!
Baron Klaus Wulfenbach: Gute Nacht, Damen, and travel safely.

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