Saturday, May 10, 2008

We Met Takahina!

Kyoto Rewind: March 29th, 2008

Takahina, Gion's youngest maiko (as of March 29th, 2008) makes her entrance.

Before Takahina entered the traditional, tatami mat room, we took our seat at low, black laquered tables set in a U formation along three walls. The Okami-san, proprietess and manager of the okiya where Takahina lives, called Takahina to join us. Even before she made her entrance, we could hear the hushed rustling of silk and a soft, tinkling chime, perhaps from the dangling metal strips of her hair ornament.

When she finally appeared, emerging from a long dark corridor, everyone gasped, our breath stolen by the sheer spectacle of it all: Her breathtakingly beautiful kimono, the glittering gold thread of her obi, the stark white veil of her makeup beneath a halo of laquered black hair crowned with colorful slik flowers and shimmering silver tassles. Even apart from the exotic extravagance of her regalia, her sweet, subtle grin, delicate features and slender neck, all highlighted by her hair, makeup and dress, made quite a pleasant impression. Introducing herself in a charmingly child-like, high pitched voice, she bowed low, on her knees with her head almost to the ground, asking us for our favor. Yoroshuu otanomooshimasu!

Showing off the elaborate yuzen design of her luxurious, long-sleeved silk kimono, subtly shaded in the sweet pallet of early spring. Yuzen is a textile process that combines a mixture of freehand paste resist and painting, which may also include stencil and shibori work. The decorative flexibility possible with this combination of techniques is unsurpassed. Designs are initially outlined in paste resist, and dyes are then applied to give subtle gradations of tone. Both delicacy and lavishness are characteristic of yuzen, as are traditional themes and decorative designs. Embroidery and gold leaf are sometimes elements of yuzen composition.

Her hair, drawn up in the fashion of young maiko, known as the wareshinobu, compliments her long, slender neck, painted in white save for a fork of bare skin leading down to the risque plunge of her kimono collar.

Ningyou-ke? Is she a doll? (^-^) Have I ever told the story of the child seeing a maiko for the first time as she walked down Shijo with her mother? "Mama, look! Is that a doll?" She squealed excitedly. "That's a maiko-san", her mother giggled. "She does look like a doll, doesn't she. Isin't she cute?"

Takahina was accompanied by her Okami-san, who quickly noticed my brother and I. "Well, well, Takahina-san, we have some foreign guests who were kind enough to come and see us. Now's your chance to practice your English. Do you remember anything?"

"Umm..." She thought for a moment.With and irresistible shyness, she slowly formed the words, carefully pronouncing each sound. "Wheea aa you from?" she asked, smiling nervously. As she raised the intonation at the end of the question, a point that is often stressed in junior high school English classes, she tilted her head to one side, the fluttering strands of her hana-kanzashi (flowered hair ornament) resting on her cheek.

Keeping everyone entertained, making us all feel special!

Of course Takahina danced for us, but I was too caught up in the experience of it all to worry about taking pictures. Sorry!

Takahina, my brother and I.



bibsmr said...

she looks incredibly cute!!!^__^

can't wait to read the story behind those photos! ;)

stevie said...

Is he the Happy Gaijin?

Melissa said...

Stevie: Why yes, yes it is! (^_^) That's my brother, the happy gaijin! Only now he knows the difference between a tourist playing dress up and the real thing. (^_<)

bibsmr said...

the last picture is incredible... pure beauty! :D

she really is cute when she is smiling :D

Anonymous said...

I just love those pictures, you are so lucky! Please keep posting more!

Takahina's kimono is wonderful, looks very graceful!

peter01 said...

Off to the movies ?

Enjoy :-)

Remy said...

what an amazing encounter! great post too! Still waiting for that wonderful coffee table book that you need to be working on. =)