Saturday, May 10, 2008


Thanks in part to Hollywood and its tendency to tart up just about everything, you might be thinking that geisha are little more than high-class prostitutes. I know I did. I hadn't the foggiest idea what they did for a living, other than totter around in ridiculous shoes and act all coy and giggly.

So when you think of business men shelling out the big bucks to employ their services, it does give one pause...

Ah but not so! Before I set foot in Japan, I learned not to even suggest such a thing unless you're hurting for a long-winded, impassioned explanation. So, I'd be in big trouble if I spread that misconception. You can instead think of geisha as performance artists.

Their marketable skills include dancing...

Playing the shamassen (and some sort of cup/clapping game)...


And my favorite geisha game, Tiger.

Here the opponents stand on either side of a partition. Hidden from view, they each assume the position of a tiger, a hunter, or an old woman. When they're ready, they come out to face each other and... A) tiger kills old woman, B) hunter kills tiger, C) old woman--not kills but otherwise overpowers--the hunter (she's his mom!)

It's a bit like our Rock, Paper, Scissors, no? Except now you're using your whole body. And I imagine there's a lot more easily-triggered, flirty giggling. So, you've got your next party game! Particularly if you just want an excuse to wrestle someone to the ground.

Geisha can also be trained singers... And storytellers... And, you know, whatever... (not hookers!) All good fun.


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