Hachisu Okiya - Community

All are welcome to join in with the community we are building at Hachisu Okiya. The more we help each other, the more fun our events will be! Okiya in Japan are communities of women who strive to breathe life into their community through art. The Okiya is referred to as 'Mother's House' and is created with a family feeling but a lot of focus.

These days, women start training by entering the Okiya at around age 15 when they have finished their mandatory schooling like any normal Japanese teenager. Working maiko and geiko don't have much time off to socialise as they are always either training or performing, so the first stage of her training (Shikomi stage) can be quite intense as she adapts to a new style of life. Such focus doesn't work for everyone at the age of 15 and many discover this and leave - it is a time of discovery and testing, much like an apprenticeship.

Okaasan provides everything for her 'adopted daughters', food, bed, clothing, lessons... everything that is needed for the girl's journey from Shikomi to Geiko. This is similar to taking out a loan to do a college course, and it has to be paid back gradually when she becomes able to be hired for performance, hostessing and confident kindness. The older sisters look after the younger sister by providing advice and supporting the Okiya themselves from their earnings. The Flower and Willow world is a wide community made up of mainly women who enjoy the dynamics of being able to meet many, preserve traditional arts and go to a lot of parties compared to normal Japanese working women or wives.

At Hachisu Okiya we consider everyone who joins in with our events to be part of our Flower and Willow world, after all everything and everyone is connected. If you would like to become a more permanent member of our community you can start on the Geisha path and join us as a Shikomi. We train together at times when we are not putting on events and there is lots of opportunity for discussion, watching documentaries, making kanzashi (hair ornaments) and discovering the depth of culture expressed by art in Japan. We are not just for girls too - there is always room for Taikomochi (male geisha) in our community, a tradition that goes back even before women decided they wanted a piece of the artistic action!


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