Kimono Culture in Hanamachi
In my previous article of November 5, 2017, “Enjoy Kimono as You Like“, I wrote that there were two different cultures in Kyoto associated with Kimono (着物). Today, I would like to introduce you the one of them, the Kimono culture in Hanamachi (花街, districts Maiko () and Geiko () reside and work).
For Maiko and Geiko, Kimono is more like advertisement. Wearing beautiful and high quality Kimono is the minimum and indispensable requirement for them. Each Yakata (屋形, Maiko and Geiko house) offers expensive Kimono to their Maiko in order to rise the Maiko‘s popularity. At the same time, wearing expensive Kimono attracts more chances to be called to better Ozashiki (お座敷, banquet with Maiko and Geiko in a traditional Japanese Tatami room), which will invite even greater business opportunities and increased sales.
Another topic here is Darari no Obi (だらりの帯) for Maiko. Obi is a general term for Kimono belts usually fasten at the back in knot or square style, whereas Darari no Obi, long and crested Obi whose ends are hung at the back, are worn exclusively by Maiko.
Long time ago, when Japan still hadn’t established its education system, most Maiko were merely children of only 10 or 12 years old, and they often got lost on their way back from Ozashiki. In cases like that, people found out which Yakaya the Maiko belonged to from the shape of the crest on the Darari no Obi. There crests acted as identification tags in a sense. Interestingly, each Hanamachi had its own method of tying Darari no Obi, and the shape of the tie worked to identify the district.
Click here to see a Blog by a Former Maiko “Do You Know?”.