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    book reviews

Yoshiwara - The Nightless City
by JE De Becker


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Glossary

The glossary is constantly updated with new words, especially after new articles have been added. If you are unable to find a particular word, please do not be concerned, it is highly likely it will be added in the near future.


kimono/clothing

hairstyle/kanzashi

make-up/beauty

music/song/dance

       


Bijin

Beautiful woman

Binzuke Abura

Wax-like substance (pomade) used in the styling of traditional hairstyles.

Bin

The side locks of a traditional hairstyle

Bon Odori

 

Dance of the Dead. A special festival honouring the spirits of dead ancestors.

Bontan Bake

Type of make-up brush used to apply the oshiroi (white powder paste make-up) to the face and neck.

Chidori

 

Small bird, Plover. The chidori can be seen on the banks of the Kamogawa. The Pontocho hanamachi use the chidori as their mon (crest).

Danna

 

A patron of a geiko/geisha. Like a husband

Darari

The style of obi musubi (bow/knot) that maiko wear. (Kyoto)

Douran

The white paste make-up worn by geisha and hangyoku. (Tokyo)

Embujo

 

Place for the practice of music, singing, dancing and used as a theatre for performances. (Tokyo)

Enkai

A banquet

Eri

The removable collar/neckband of a kimono.

Eri Ashi

The painted prong shape at the nape of the neck of geiko and maiko. Originally, the hairline itself was in this prong shape, but now, it is shaved, and the make-up is painted to emulate.

Erikae o suru

"To Turn One's Collar". This is the period when a maiko becomes a geiko.

Fue

Japanese bamboo flute

Fuji

Wisteria

Furisode

A kimono worn by girls and young women with long swinging sleeves.

Gakuya chocho

Katsura styled in the manner of a male's hairstyle. Used by geiko/geisha when performing in an odori. (See also, Hawase, Gakuya chocho and)

Gei

Art

Geigi

Another term for geiko/geisha

Geiko

 

Kyoto dialect for the word geisha. This term is sometimes also used in Osaka.

Geisya

Another term for geiko/geisha

Geimei

The professional name chosen by a geisha/geiko

Gyokudai

"Jewel Money" - a geisha's wage (primarily Tokyo)

Geta

Wooden sandals/footwear, worn by both sexes.

Gion Kobu

 

The largest geiko town (hanamachi) in Kyoto.

Giomeyasu

 

"Excuse Me" (Kyoto Dialect)

Hakama

Long, pleated pants, worn over kimono. Primarily worn by men today, but women also wear them.

Haori

A jacket that is worn by both sexes over the top of a kimono

Hanadai

"Flower Money" - a geiko's wage (primarily Kyoto)

Hanamachi

"Flower Town" - a geiko/geisha community.

Hana michi

 

Literally, "Flower Path". In theatres where dances are held, hana michi are the runways that lead up to the stage.

Hangyoku

Tokyo apprentice geisha. Literally means "Half Jewel" indicating that they are paid half the wages of a full geisha.

Hawase

Katsura styled in the manner of a male's hairstyle. Used by geiko/geisha when performing in an odori. (See also, Hawase, Gakuya chocho and)

Hikizuri

Trailing kimono worn by geiko and maiko and often in odori.

Hokan

A male comedian/jester from he Feudal era.

Iki

 

Smart and stylish. Equivalent to the Western term, "Chic".

Jimae

A geiko who has become independent of her okiya.

Joro

 

A prostitute

Ju ni hitoe

"12 layer unlined kimono" - A style of clothing worn by the noble women of Heian Japan.

Kabuki

 

Traditional stage performance, originally with an all male cast, even for women's roles. The recognized founder of Kabuki, however, was a female dancer: Okuni.

Kaburenjo

 

Place for the practice of music, singing, dancing and used as a theatre for performances. (Kyoto dialect)

Kamiarai

An old custom of only washing one's hair on the 14th and the end of each month. Now obsolete.

Kan Geiko

 

The practicing of one's art in the harsh winter weather.

Katsura

Traditional Japanese wig.

Katsura Shitaji

Katsura styled in the manner of a male's hairstyle. Used by geiko/geisha when performing in an odori. (See also, Hawase, Gakuya chocho and)

Kamon

 

Japanese family crest (see mon)

Kanoko

A style of shibori, literally "child of deer". It is so called as it is believed the spots formed represent the spots on the back of a fawn.

Karyukai

A contemporary term for the "Flower and Willow" world.

Kenban

A registry office for geiko/geisha. Each hanamachi has it's own kenban.

Ketabo

False hair used in the styling of both natural hair and katsura

Kimono

The robe-like national garment, worn on a daily basis by geiko/geisha and maiko.

Kitsukitsu kannin
dosue

"I am sorry" (Kyoto Dialect)

Kofurisode

The kimono that maiko wear through the day when they are not dressed for entertaining.

Kouta

"Short Song" sung in accompaniment with the shamisen.

Koto

A thirteen stringed harp type instrument, played flat on the ground.

Kyo Beni

Traditional lipstick particular to Kyoto. The lipstick is a hard, dark green cake that is sold inside a clam shell. When applied to the lips with a wet brush, it turns a vivid crimson.

Kyomai

Dance that has originated from Kyoto.

Machiai

A waiting house where guest are entertained by geisha. (Tokyo).

Maiko

Literally, "Dancing Girl". A maiko are young girls who start their training around 15-16 years of age in Kyoto. Their used to be maiko in Osaka, and the Tokyo equivalent is Hangyoku. (Kyoto)

Marumage

A traditional hairstyle worn by adult women.

Minarai

The next stage after shikomi, literally "learning by observation". A minari-san will be dressed like a maiko and attend banquets. To show that she is still not yet a maiko, her obi is tied at half length.

Minarai-jaya

A teahouse who sponsors a new geiko's training. (Kyoto)

Mizuage

The sexual initiation, or deflowering of a maiko. This practice is now obsolete.

Momoware

The "split peach" hairstyle said to be worn by maiko, and to be the same hairstyle as the ofuku hairstyle. There is some debate as to whether the momoware is actually a different hairstyle though.

Mon

Japanese family crest (see kamon)

Musubi

Bow/Knot

Noh

A highly stylized traditional theatre performance once enjoyed by the members of the upper class in feudal times. Now enjoyed by all.

Obake

A fun event where geiko and maiko dress in disguise and visit teahouses and guest in the hanamachi. This is in conjunction with the celebrations for Setsubun.

Obebe

Geiko word for kimono (Kyoto dialect)

Obi

The wide sash worn around the waist, on top of the kimono, tied at the back.

Obi-age

A long piece of silk cloth tied around the body and tucked into the top of the obi.

Obi-jime

A cord that is tied around the centre of the obi.

Obi-dome

Similar to a broach, but worn on the obi-jime. Maiko wear an obi-dome, geiko do not.

Ocha

Japanese Green Tea

Ochaya

Literally, "tea house". This is where geiko and maiko entertain their customers (Kyoto)

O-daiko

Large traditional Japanese drum.

Odori

Dance

Odoriko

Literally "dancing girls". Often said to be the predecessors of geisha.

Ohaguro

Black tooth dye.

Oiran

A high class courtesan that existed after the 1750's in Yoshiwara. (Tokyo)

Okamisan

Mistress, hostess. Proprietor of teahouse or shops.

Okasan

Mother. Geiko and maiko also call the mistress of their okiya, Okasan.

Okawa

Waist drum held on the left thigh.

Okiya

House where geiko and maiko live with their Okasan. Independent geiko must be associated with an okiya.

Okobo

The high wooden clogs worn by maiko.

Onesan

Older sister.

Oniisan

Older brother.

Onsen

Hot springs.

Ookini

"Thank-You" (Kyoto Dialect)

Oshiroi

The white paste make-up worn by geiko and maiko. (Kyoto)

Otasan

Father.

Otoko Geisha

Male geisha (see also, hokan, taiko mochi)

Ronin

A masterless samurai.

Ryotei

Modern day restaurants where Tokyo geisha entertain customers (similar to an ochaya in Kyoto) (Tokyo)

Sake

Japanese rice wine.

Sakura

Cherry Blossoms

Shamisen

Also spelt samisen. Three string banjo like instrument used in dance and singing. One of the geiko/geisha's main instruments.

Samurai

A member of the warrior upper class.

Sansan kudo

"Three by three, nine times" Ceremony performed between a geiko and maiko (or two geiko) where three sips of sake each, from three sake cups bind them into sisterhood.

Seri-agari butai

An elevator stage used in theatres

Shibori

A special type of fabric resist tie dye method where patterns are formed by time consuming knotting of the fabric, or by strategic folds of the fabric.

Shikomi

The first stage of a young girl in becoming a maiko. Shikomi-san normally helps with the daily chores around the okiya along with helping our her onesan and okasan. She will also start classes in various arts, in anticipation of becoming a maiko.

Shimada

Traditional hairstyle worn by geiko and geisha alike. There are a few different variations of the Shimada hairstyle worn by geiko and maiko for certain occasions(see also taka-shimada, kyo-shimada, yakko-shimada).

Shin-hanga

Literally, "New Prints" - the style of woodblock prints that developed after Ukiyo-e.

Shinju

A love suicide. Quite popular and highly romanticized during the feudal era.

Shirabyoshi

A female dancer from Heian Japan. Often touted as one of the predecessors to modern day geisha and geiko.

Shogun

The head of government in Feudal Japan.

Shoji

A sliding door made with paper.

Sui

Refined taste and gracefulness

Suimeikai

A dance performed by Pontocho geiko in March.

Suji tate

Also sui tate. A comb used in traditional hairstyling for parting the hair.

Tabi

Split toe socks.

Taiko

An obi musubi style worn by geiko and geisha.

Taiko

Traditional Japanese drum.

Taiko-mochi

Drum bearers, jesters. Predecessors to modern day geiko/geisha.

Tatami

Traditional Japanese floor coverings made from straw.

Tayuu

Highest class courtesan now specific to Kyoto only.

Tenjin

The next rank below Tayuu (Kyoto)

Tokonoma

An alcove in traditional Japanese rooms where a hanging scroll and flower arrangements are displayed.

Tsukesage

Kimono with a pattern on both the shoulder and hem.

Tsutsumi

Traditional Japanese shoulder drum.

Ukiyo-e

"Prints of the Floating World". Woodblock prints that often had geisha, courtesans and actors as the main subject.

Uta

A song

Wafuku

Traditional Japanese dress.

Yofuku

Western style dress.

Yujo

Prostitute.

Yuka

The platform erected over the banks of the Kamogawa. Geiko and maiko often entertain customers here.

Yukata

Cotton kimono worn in summer months.

Zashiki

Banquet room. Also term used by geiko for engagements.

Zashiki gei

Dance, music and singing performances by geiko and maiko in a zashiki.

Zori

Thong/flip-flop style of footwear.