Don’t Confuse Geisha and Courtesans (Oiran and Tayu)

It is apparent from my forays around Pinterest and the web that images of geisha and courtesans are often mislabeled. For those unfamiliar with subtleties in the styling and wear of kimono, obi, and traditional Japanese hairstyles, it can be … Continue reading

Geisha and Maiko – Japanese Classical Dance

I used to be involved in a Japanese dance troupe in New York city. Most people aren’t familiar with the dance style, and describing it as akin to kabuki still drew blank looks. Below is a link to a¬†clip of … Continue reading

Whose Sleeves? Tagasode Screen

The garments draped over the racks in the golden scene depicted on this screen raise questions about the woman who left them there. The late seventeenth century kosodes are energetic in their designs of fans and wheels and riotous in … Continue reading

Taisho Era Postcard

In 2002, the MFA Boston acquired the Leonard Lauder large collection of Japanese postcards. The most thrilling images are Taisho illustrations, with their bold block colors and imagery that was modern and traditional at the same time. All have a … Continue reading

Iro Iro: My Brief Moment as a Japanese Classical Dancer

Kimono? White makeup? Shamisen music? In New York City? I spent a few years as part of a semi-professional kabuki dance troupe here, as a student. Many westerners might think white makeup when “kabuki” is mentioned, but they might be … Continue reading