Looking back over ‘the busy months’

I was talking to another community minded person the other day and she said to me ‘wait until the season is over and then we can talk’. It does seem to me, from what little experience i am gaining, that running an okiya will mean a flurry of activity from cherry blossom festival til the end of summer. Better weather means more smiling faces out and about looking to do things I guess 🙂

So that means… its blogging time!
First lets look at our April 2013 event – The Cherry Blossom festival!

We were so lucky with the weather this year, it was warm, sunny and perfect for a glass of beer on the lawn whilst watching one’s nearest and dearest don a bit of silk in praise of the blossom! Hachitsuki-san and I dressed people up whilst Misha-chan and Alicia-chan helped people pick obi and kimono that they liked.

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Then it was time to have some pictures taken under the blossoms… I had been worried that they wouldn’t be out in time – we had had such a cold and long winter. As it was our cherry blossoms this year were very young – a different feel from the scattering ones we had last year. The cherry blossom is an important symbol in Japan because it demonstrates how we should take pleasure in the moment as all things are changing.

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I had so much fun meeting this lovely young lady – I can’t remember her name now but we had quite an afternoon of it.. with plenty of time for chat, exuberance (note the little lad romeo who wandered up to me and exploded with some intelligible form of enthusiasm at one point) and time for a dance performance too!59630_523093784420607_403914083_n 381995_523093917753927_2040750109_n
Just before I started to dance my grandmother happened to turn up – she didn’t know I was going to be there she was just by chance visiting the garden that day :-p So I got the chance to dance for her… My family don’t really join in much with what I do, even though they live close, so it was nice to make the offering of dance to her – but also I’ll admit to prove to her a little of what I do. Without showing off I want people to see I am serious about my art and path as geisha… its a delicate balance – an ‘iki’?? 🙂

Misha-chan and Alicia-chan with their daisies under the cherry trees near The White Hart bar and restaurant 🙂

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Regular Ozashiki!


The project Hachisu Okiya is going very well and so we have started to provide regular events. One month we host a movie night and the next month we host a traditional Ozashiki party… or thereabouts :-p We have quite a few dances and games learnt now and our guests are often artistic themselves.. meaning everyone has something to share, discuss and have fun with! Our talent for sushi is improving also – and sometimes we are lucky enough to have guest caterers for an event. Here are some pictures and descriptions of how they have gone for you all… to see more and larger ones please visit our busy facebook page:

Our November Ozashiki….
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At this zashiki we actually held two parties… one in the afternoon for children and one in the evening. Here are some pictures of the afternoon (it was misha-chan’s birthday party) We all enjoyed the games together and the kids were adventurous by trying the Japanese fare that was prepared for them. We especially enjoyed playing ‘Mr Raccoon’ to work up an appetite for cake!

Our January Ozashiki…
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At this zashiki we had a new helper called Bridgette who took lots of pictures – thank you Bridgette 🙂 We get so busy at parties that it is hard to remember to take photos! At the January zashiki we were so happy to celebrate the beginning of the year. We had quite a few young guests too so we played loads of games – though later I had to reassure a guest that the games were designed for adults to play! Misha-chan is really good at getting everyone involved so we are getting better at encouraging people to have a go – there really is no worry about making a fool of yourself at a zashiki after all ^^

Our March Ozashiki…
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We were quite tired at this zashiki… its been very cold here and while we have been anticipating the spring for a long time ^^ I was a bit nervous to see how it would be with us all being tired and also we had to do the catering ourselves. The neighbouring restaurant is so helpful and provided us with a warm noodle course halfway through the evening. It was a quieter zashiki but a really interesting one. We had no ‘underage’ guests and as such there was more time for talking. It is really interesting how much communication happens when you are playing a game and not using words other than the game song. During Kitsune Ken I played opposite someone completely new to the game and without the children there we could take it ‘seriously’. It was so much fun half teaching, half being in competition and half confused… I know that doesn’t add up to a whole pie circle, but maybe reflects the subtle feeling involved…..??
What fun this is!

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Tale of the Totnes Geisha…

A video of the tale told by steph with a slideshow of our early stage okiya in Totnes… We have been providing regular Ozashiki geisha parties in our town – a post about that coming soon!

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Our story….


During the late summer we visited the leechwell garden in Totnes. Totnes has marvellous history.. having been rich enough to have two mints in the past! The buildings all the way up the street reflect the power and creativity of the merchants of the town from elizabethan times. It also has a very special river having had a sea port for great ships coming across the ocean bearing timber from scandinavia… and then just a easy walk around the ‘nose’ of the town there exists a weir near the place where a ford for walking and driving used to be.

The leechwells have been visited for generations as a place of healing and refuge, wrapped as they are by high walls and near the wells a public garden has been opened. We are so lucky to have such a welcoming and well designed place.. and it hosts many a gathering and event. We went to a wonderful fundraising event in aid of the Lantern Festival at met Steph Bradley – our local story weaver!

Listening to the leechwell stories

Having offered a dance as part of the entertainment at the end of her stories at the event I sat and waited in my Misedashi kimono and had the honour of listening to the creation story of the three healing Leechwells… and more! It is said that in the old climbing tree, whose trunk lies in the park there (often covered with kids) a dragon once laid an egg. And from that egg hatched the resident dragon of the garden whose task it was to earn the marvellous colours on his spines by learning about the locality of his home and the people who live there…

Steph then informed us that before his final settling in the garden he flew around the world.. learning many things from many cultures. One day he brought back a Geisha from Japan who, as a social healer herself, felt right at home dancing for those who had travelled far to benefit from the revitalising nature of the Leechwell. Then I danced Kyo No Shiki which I always enjoy – we must get our okiya some travel speakers for moments such as this – It was great to collaborate in this way!

At our september Ozashiki the story was continued and added to as Steph came as a guest and artist. She told the story of the Dragon and the Geisha.. and then I told the myth story of the birth of Hachisu Okiya 😀
The story of the Totnes Geisha was also told on Soundart Radio by lovely storyweaving Steph.. I intend to make a slideshow of our photos set to the story as a soundtrack for youtube but until then here is Steph’s Happiness broadcast.Hachiko at the leechwell garden

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Autumn Lanterns and Whispered Names…

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Another break in blogging…. So the next few posts will be looking back I suspect.. Totnes had another wonderful lantern festival at the end of september which it was our pleasure to attend. It was Hachidori’s first time in full … Continue reading

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Misedashi part 2..

It’s been a long time since I have written. This summer has been so full, when I have not been teaching or studying I have been meeting family.. and taking the kids to the beach!

So here is a little about the ‘second’ part of my Misedashi..
We were very busy after the food, playing games and performing. I danced Gion Kouta and later Kyo No Shiki… to the best of my ability. I love performing in my kuromonsuki furisode very much.. and it turns out that when swept in a curve the willows on the sleeves look like they are dancing in a breeze 🙂
Between dances we played games.. and listened to a fantastic japanese style story read by Loftus-san. We played Tora Tora and then a little later a few rounds of Kompira Fune Fune… the sake was flowing in its pretty manner, little by little.. dainty cup by dainty cup… as people lost to the champions of the current game!
We had a last minute flurry after the surrounding restaurants were closing.. and got home and settled at around half past midnight.. by which time I was ready for a bath to relax… Here are a couple videos of our games…

It is hard to sleep when you get home late…. though I suspect Maiko who work as hard as they do every day at O-Zashiki must attain the correct level of exhaustion – what amazing women!

In the few weeks after this I found time to do the rounds of Totnes with Hachitsuki-san to say thank you to a few of the many people who have helped and encouraged me. Without them I would never have got to this stage, and the okiya would just be a strange dream..
As it is many smiles, laughs and creative inspiration has forged Hachisu Okiya forward.. I wish my little sisters even more joy than I have experienced as they themselves are nurtured.
A few pictures from my Misedashi walk….. and one from the Taiko Festival in exeter that we visited (thanks to Rich Booth who took the picture)


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Misedashi! (and O-zashiki party – part 1)

So the time came for Misedashi :-p I booked the place and found Miho Sato who very kindly agreed to cater for us and source a shoji screen for our two uchikake (wedding kimono) to snuggle up to. Preparations did that funny thing that they sometimes do.. you start ‘thinking’ you are pacing yourself.. but always end up rushing at the last minute. Many many thanks for misha-chan for helping with the sewing of my kuro-hikizuri as I was flustering about :-p (thats a secret for you backstage people – in ‘reality’ i was as cool as a cucumber ;))

It was such an amazing day! We started off with a Sister Ceremony which I will post about soon (Hello our new Hachidori-chan ^.^)
For those of you who did not have the joy of attending I will try to lead your imagination through it all…  I want to thank everyone so much for your kindness in supporting me with your interest and open hearts . Otano Moshimasu!

The space was laid out for the Sister Ceremony when the caterers arrived. We got into more relevant kimono (nearly all of us, caterers n all) and started making a Ceremony space into a Party space ^^

Then it was time to lay the first food out as people started to arrive. Already one could feel the dynamics of the kitchen..
   versus… the calm gathering energy of the Zashiki space where people were peacefully settling into light chat and subtle sake served by Obasan Hachitsuki-san and our Minarai Hachidori-chan. Birdwood House is such a lovely place – thank you Anthea!

I was waiting out the back as we had planned I should be a little anticipated as it was MY Misedashi this time :-p So having settled everyone we gathered for a group photo.. and then started serving a first course of Sushi 🙂

The sushi was so delicious we couldn’t stop the Taikomochi from tucking in – what an uncouth fellow that Hachizaru is! After the sushi had had its time to shine it was time to start ‘entertaining’ so Hachizaru-san stood up and (after enjoying the stage to its full potential) – announced my arrival. And in I came in the lovely hikizuri and detail that only exists due to the kindness of all those who have helped me. I thanked everyone for coming and for their support (I have a little ‘shaky cam’ video of this bit but I am shy so if you would like to request a private view of it on YouTube please do in the comment field and I will forward it to you). I will continue the story of the first Misedashi outside of Japan (as far as I know) in my next post ^^
I am so joyful to have some white in my collar at last!
 Itadakimasu! Hachiko x

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