Geisha, 'maiko' Make New Year's Vows In Gion To Hone Their Art

Geisha, 'maiko' make New Year's vows in Gion to hone their art

KYOTO--Geisha and their apprentices, called "maiko," pledged to practice and work hard this year to improve their performances at their New Year's business opening ceremonies here on Jan. 7.

The ceremonies were held in four quarters out of five major "kagai" (entertainment streets) in the city: Gion Kobu, Miyagawacho, Pontocho and Gion Higashi.

Wearing formal family crest-bearing kimono and rice stalk-shaped "kanzashi" ornamental hairpins, exclusively for New Year’s, about 110 traditional entertainers, dance teachers and others of Gion-Kobu collectively recited pledges, saying, "Let’s make efforts to train our hearts and master artistic skills while being proud of Gion’s tradition."

The Gion Kobu ceremony was held at Gion Corner of the Yasaka Hall theater in Higashiyama Ward.

Afterward, Inoue Yachiyo V, 62, a master and teacher of the Inoue School of "kyomai" dance form that originated in Kyoto, performed her "Yamatobumi" dance, the annual ritual.

Inoue is designated by the government as a national treasure.

After the ceremony, geisha and maiko were given "omiki" sake, which had been offered to the altar, in a "sakazuki" tass, a small saucer-like cup. They exchanged New Year's greetings, saying in the Kyoto dialect, "Omedetosandosu" (Happy New Year).

Mameharu, 20, a maiko, said, "I would like to engage in traditional entertainment with my recreated spirit."