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

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 difficult to differentiate between a geisha, a bride, a housewife visiting friends, … 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. Within the dance, there is a correct … 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

The Geisha Toye as a Vendor of Poems

This woodblock print in the Metropolitan Museum of Art depicts The Geisha Toye as a Vendor of Poems, and dates to c. 1795. Geisha were the purveyors of iki, a kind of dark artistic cool. Gei means art and officially, the … 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

Remedy for the Western Breakfast

I hate breakfast. Sweet, pasty, blech. This doesn’t mean I don’t like to eat when I first arise, because I do. Hating breakfast isn’t a recent phase; I’ve been rebelling against modern western breakfast fare since I was thirteen. Cereal … Continue reading