I recently celebrated my 40th birthday so naturally thoughts about age have crossed my mind.
I had been going through some photos this past week of my last trip to Kyoto. I came across the picture above featuring a beautiful miako (apprentice geisha) and a senior geisha. The timing was perfect – one of those lessons that life throws at you when you need it most.
In Kyoto I was lucky enough to attend a dinner where this miako and geisha entertained and were our hostesses for the evening. Of course most eyes were glued on the young miako who I believe was about 20. Her kimono was beyond exquisite. She was truly a living work of art - what every geisha aspires to be. She also possessed amazing dance skills and was fun to talk to, even through our translator.
I have always seen pictures of older geisha and was never quite sure of their roll in social engagements. At this dinner the older geisha, dressed in a subdued yet elegant kimono, played the shamisen and sang while the miako danced a beautiful classical Japanese dance.
After dinner the group loosened up a bit. After playing a round of traditional geisha drinking games I got to see what the role of the older geisha was all about. This petite, somewhat frail yet confident and graceful woman became the life of the party. She could hold her own in a way that only someone with practice and experience can. I even remember a man who drank much too much sake picking her up and tossing her over his shoulder. All she did was laugh and scold him jokingly.
Watching these two woman, one an apprentice and one an experienced geisha was enlightening. The contrast of youth and beauty with confidence, grace and experience was so apparent. Both of them brought something unique to the occasion. Both were elegant and beautiful in their own way. This beauty, strength, and self possession is the inspiration behind Amayori's Geisha Ritual. We are all our own works of art - a constant work in progress that grows more beautiful every day.