The hidden world of geisha women/girls in Japan has often been a space of secret mystery. Its a feminine space of fascination and wonder for those, who have heard of this culture from, afar. Foreign eyes have had a particular interest in this special world of young women, who have mastered the art of femininity, and how it is expressed (and interpreted) in Japanese culture. Nevertheless, its a world, which has focused more on outside beauty. In fact, it has been presented and traced, as a world where the creative arts are mastered and performed. Furthermore, it is also a special intimacy, where women master the art of entertainment-through Japanese culture and style. After all, its more than simply singing or playing an instrument, in order to keep the time going by. On the contrary, it is a time, where you guide attendees in enjoying the artistry of time. Furthermore, its also evident how the treasures of silence, and silent movement, becomes an important lesson, when it comes to Japanese femininity, and its preservation, through the art of the, Geisha!
Geishas truly have a sacred place in the world of Japanese artistry and music. It is a herstorical tradition; one which served as a refuge for young, Japanese girls, who sought a better life and opportunities. Translation: a space of economic empowerment for Japanese women. After all, they were (and are) cultural artists. And, no matter what is happening in the world-via politics, economics, or societal instability-there is one thing that will always sell, and that is, ART!
The nation of Japan has its own depiction of enchantment and connection to Universal aesthetics. After all, every nation and culture, does. Within Japanese culture and artistry, there has clearly been a depiction, regarding how women have connected to the land. Just think of the Cherry Blossom festivals, and what they symbolize for Japanese women, men, culture, and the very depiction of storytelling. It is fantastical, indeed! You have to wonder how such imagery is brought into the world of geisha women. How do they use Japanese, natural surroundings within the creative performance sector?
So, now that we have entered into the premise of Japanese landscapes, there is a particular treasure laid before our eyes, when entering into the world of Japan. Of course, geishas were many. Yet, there were always those particular dames, whose talents, and mastery of the geisha, were more skillful and of a certain quality. They truly brought the Universal into the paradise, and made the performance of music and artistry a magical place, where people could retreat from life’s hostilities. Of course, there are legends in the Japanese, geisha world. Stories are told about them. They are spoken of for decades to come, and bring forth the blueprint for the future of Japanese women, who desire to specialize in that world (or partake in it), one day! One particular legend of the Japanese, geisha world is. . .
She had come from humble beginnings. That happens with many of the great legends, doesn’t it. Again, its about returning to the bottom, where the treasures, lay. When you come from nothingness, you are forced to explore. Those entertainers, singers, musicians, performers, and others are forced to dig a little deeper, and create what is not available. After all, you don’t have the resources for your pleasures, comforts, and convenience. It means you have to do the ugly work of digging a little deeper, collecting what is useful, and crafting it into something, presentable. Ichimaru’s birth name is Matsue Goto. In addition to have eleven brothers and sisters, she also came from unfortunate, living conditions. Clearly, in the deepest of her heart, she felt there was something better for her. So, as the story goes, she left home at 14 or 15 years of age, to work inside of a geisha house. Of course, she did not start as a geisha. She had to start from the bottom because that is where the foundation, and treasures, lay. At the bottom is where individuals come to refine and strengthen their skills; necessary skills, which will empower them on a higher level, and grander platform. So, she began her work at a “hot springs spa in Asama, located in the Nagano Prefecture as an oshaku waitress.” At the age of 19 she moved to Tokyo, Japan to perform as a geisha, where she took on the performance name of, Asakusa Ichimaru. Under this name, she performed at the Ichimatsuya Okiya. It was here, where she became proficient in the art of singing, through her studies with famed shamisen, Enchiga Kiyomoto. In further strengthening her skills, Ichimaru began to study with Kiyomot’s son, Grand Head Master Enjudaiyu Kiyomoto V’s son, Eijudaiyu. Her studies paid off, and eventually, she secured her first record deal with The Victor Recording Company in 1931. Again, coming from the bottom, does have its advantages.
She performed and utilized her role as a geisha, to showcase her talents. She had the ability to perform traditional, Japanese songs from her own culture. However, there was another culture, which came to peak her interest. Whispers of the maidens from those peculiar gardens, came to her interest. This particular, musical genre is the art form, perfume, and ethnic marker of Black American people. It is a popular art form, throughout the world, and it is known as, Jazz! It is birthed from Black American maidens and mothers, who have labored and toiled in working through those gardens; a form of nutrition and vitamins for the preservation of their femininity, feminine aesthetics, and wellness as Black American women. And yet, here was a Japanese maiden, who took interest in one facet of their culture. In honor of her fascination with Jazz music, she had the pleasure of working with one particular, Japanese composer-Ryoichi Hattori, in 1950. That song is entitled, “Shamisen Boogie Woogie.”
Its interesting how people can take their own twist, and interpretation into another musical form. Listening to “Shamisen Boogie Woogie,” you hear that traditional style, so heavily associated with popular, Jazz music, within that particular time. The tempo is upbeat, and the presence of that Big Band sound makes its particular introduction. And then, there is the incorporation of the sound, from traditional, Japanese music. It is symbolic of that cultural immersion of “East” meets “West.” Japan and the United States. Its another example in two nations have a past history, rendered with hostility and violence. And yet, here they are coming together, as complements of each other, through music. And, its through the presence of, a geisha. Its the power of the arts! Its the power of music, Darlings! Culture, music, and time have a way of bringing harmony, and healing from the past. In fact, they bring a unique trend when it comes to cultural ambassador and diplomacy. The tongue of “Shamisen Boogie Woogie,” is in the Japanese language. Certain instruments are of Japanese origin. And, then there is the presence of “Big Band,” Jazz music. Its a fascinating mixture of musical culinary!
Keep in mind that it was after World War II, when Ichimaru became interested in Jazz music, from the United States. It seems to be a trend in how artists are able to mend divisions between cultures; especially, when having a her/history of division and strife. Yet, that’s the magic of art. Shortly after the composition of “Shamisen Boogie Woogie,” Ichimaru became one of the first Japanese artist to travel to the United States, in 1950, where she performed in the nation of Hawaii. She continued to perform internationally, and followed through with the performance of a Japanese, theater art, known as Kabuki. “Kabuki theater is known for the stylization of its drama the often-glamorous costumes worn by performers, and for the elaborate kumadori make-up worn by some of its performers.”
In her international performances, we are observing a very important role of the geisha performer, and her representation of Japanese culture. Her connection to the arts, presents an image of Japan, that is humane, creative, and sensitive to the desires and needs of people. to a great extend, she is a symbol of peace. Her quiet nature, mastery of silence, and ability to perform makes her an intriguing character in the preservation of Japanese culture. Furthermore, in navigating into another culture, Ichimaru presents the Japanese woman as someone who cares for other feminine images, which are different from her own. The human softness and gentility of Japanese people is on full display to see. Remember everyone, the power of culture, and its infinite power to bring healing, to ALL!
In highlighting our beloved geisha, let us remember that the performance of silence is not symbolic of weakness. In fact, it can be one of the greatest weapons of strength. Furthermore, there is also the treasure, and pleasure, of starting from an uncomfortable foundation. It is here where the fruits for one’s development and success, can be found. Nevertheless, know that music and culture are phenomenal anecdotes. When placed within the perfect harmony, they are able to perform the extraordinary ventures of human existence. What makes the role of the geisha intriguing, is how a performer, as Ichimaru, was able to use it for the political realm. She was more than, a geisha-in the traditional understanding of its definition. In fact, she was a fictional character, akin to a Japanese fairy. Floating to different lands to bring healing, through one image of Japanese lands. She was a living, fairy tale. What is even more enchanting is that she used her musical and theater talents to illuminate magical worlds in Japan, and other nations. Its an ultimate example of taking what was stolen, and restoring it to other nations, through the arts. Depicting a soothing nature of the island, and spreading that nurture to nations, that were hurt by her, during those painful days! That’s justice! Its a form of holistic Sisterhood, and its a form of women healing each other (of differing lands), as a form of feminine aesthetics. Let the fairy, float on!
Ichimaru’s longstanding career as performers, and later, educator, is a testament to the possibilities of healing, and creating in, anew. Furthermore, her role as a geisha articulates just how precious the cultural world of creativity can be. One cannot deny that within geisha homes, there is magic and the housing of sacred intimacies! Universal aesthetics also reside in the world of the geisha. Virtues of patience, being meticulous, cleverness, and the wellness of, time. Time is about, change! Furthermore, it is also a powerful lesson is how a nation can bring renewal to a past image, which is displeasing. Time heals! And through the patterns, creativity, and aesthetics of time, we got to experience its living power, through one “geisha girl,” and its mastery of its infinite treasures! Mixing the familiar with a peculiar, sound!
To listen to more of the work and music of Japanese singer, musician, and performer, ICHIMARU, you may click on the links, below!
Youtube Music: https://music.youtube.com/channel/UCpZYlbk1e6nbLIU6VgGasQw