An Event at SuiHo-En

An Occasion at SuiHo-En

Released at Thu, 10 October 2019 08:00:44 +0000
I had not thought about researching this part of Western culture during my trip and was conscious that those in colorful kimonos and oshiroi makeup sauntering down Gion roads were not real geishas.  Maybe popular works like Memoirs of a Geisha and Madame Butterfly contribute — excessively — into the idea of sorrow and repression, and an unnatural lure of the Orient.  This delightful JFLA event provided 21st century viewpoints.


SuiHoEn is the most meticulously maintained garden I’ve ever visited — not one fallen pine needle on the extensive decomposed granite paths!  The three kanji Sui (水), Ho (芳), and En (園) imply”water,””fragrance,” and”backyard,” respectively.  The assignment and undertaking of suiHoEn are ambitious and as noble as its name.  I would have lingered to look for Yukimi and Daikoku, if the extreme summer heat had not further permeated and entrapped the not-so-fragrant air from the surgery next door. 
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The event’s most memorable moments happened when two apprentice geishas, or maiko, initiated a game called Tora Tora Tora while the mature geiko played shamisen and staged.  (Don’t confuse this Tora Tora Tora with the 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora! Which recounts Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.)  Paper, rock, scissors are substituted by samurai, older woman, and tiger — or tora in Western.  Rather than hand gestures, two players wander away from a display separating them to show their choices of complete body movements.  The samurai stabs the tiger with an imperceptible lance; the tiger laps in the old woman; the older woman disciplines the samurai (as she needs to, to preserve the custom of honoring the elderly).
The three performers, well-mannered and exquisitely attired, must have favored into the Santa Monica Pier that was less-scorching.  They finished this West Coast Tour the Following Day at Pasadena’s Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden.
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The event’s opening lecture, given by the Canadian organizer from Japan, defined ocha-ya (お茶屋)”teahouses” as membership-based establishments where inducted geishas function and entertain guests; those places can’t be different from trivial teahouses.  Outside of Kyoto, geishas showcase their years of training at high-end, conventional restaurants called ryotei (料亭).   This is a type of luxury entertainment not readily available to the general public — reservations and special arrangements are needed at all times.