June 9, 2014

1096 JAPAN (Kansai) - Maiko girls in Gion, Kyoto

Probably that, together with the samurai, geisha are the most distinctive symbol of Japan. Geisha are traditional Japanese female entertainers who act as hostesses and whose skills include performing various Japanese arts such as classical music, dance and games. Apprentice geisha in western Japan, especially Kyoto, are called maiko (literally "dance child") or hangyoku ("half-jewel" - meaning that they are paid half of the wage of a full geisha), or by the more generic term o-shaku (literally "one who pours (alcohol)"). A woman entering the geisha community doesn't have to begin as a maiko, having the opportunity to begin her career as a full geisha. A woman above 21 is considered too old to be a maiko and becomes a full geisha upon her initiation into the geisha community.

The jobs of maiko consist of performing songs, dances, and playing the shamisen (three-stringed Japanese instrument) for visitors during feasts. Maiko are usually aged 15 to 20 years old and become geisha after learning how to dance (a kind of Japanese traditional dance), play the shamisen, and learning Kyō-kotoba (dialect of Kyoto), regardless of their origins. Maiko originated from women who served green tea and dango (Japanese dumpling made from rice flour) to people who visited the Kitano Tenman-gū or Yasaka Shrine (these are the two of the famous shrines in Kyoto) at teahouses in the temple town about 300 years ago.

The white make-up and elaborate kimono and hair of a maiko is the popular image held of geisha. A maiko's hairstyle is called nihongami (a Japanese traditional hairstyle from Edo period). Maiko put kanzashi (Japanese traditional hair accessories) on their hair with seasonal flowers. The hairstyle changes depending on the years of experience they have. Maiko wear kimono with the train trailing on the floor. They wear darari-no-obi (the special obi for maiko) over the train, which is 5m long and it hangs from their waist to their ankles.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of a series issued on October 9, 2013 to commemorate International Letter Writing Week. The images on these four stamps are taken from The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō, a series of woodcut prints by the Japanese artist Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858), inspired by his own journey along the Tokaido road. Each image in the series depicts one station along the road.
• Shirasuka, 32nd station (70 JPY) - it's on the postcard
• Odawara, 9th station (90 JPY)
• Hamamatsu, 29th station (110 JPY)
• Ishiyakushi, 44th station (130 JPY)

Geisha faq - Immortal Geisha
Maiko - Wikipedia

sender: Praewa (direct swap)
sent from Tokyo (Kantō / Japan), on ??.05.2014

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