Janne Robberstad

Welcome to my site! I work as a costume-designer and an artist, and creating, or ARTING as I prefer, makes me happy! This is both a portfolio of things I´ve made and a blog meant to inspire.

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Kyoto – geisha-spotting

By spotogspindel | October 17, 2016

Today I visited the Nishijin textile centre & museum. They had their own kimono-fashion-show, a weavery and a big museum-shop. The best part however, was the dress-up-like-a-Japanese photo-shoot. I choose the more-is-more version of the 12 layered wedding-kimono! Full on with wig and makeup and the works. 12 layers of heavy silk over a pair of wide trousers that are 2 meters long… it does´t make it easy to move.

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From now on, this will be my official portrait! Ha, ha, ha… no, I´m just kidding. But it is nonetheless probably the closest I´ll get to my 5-year-old self of becoming a princess.

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I had two women doing my makeup and dressing me. I thought it was interesting to see how the inner clothing was, and how everything was arranged as they added layers.

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Dressed as a bride for her adding, or even resembling an imperial princess. But not a geisha. So when the photo-session was over, I visited an indigo weavers atelier. No geishas, but hand-dyed silk yarn.

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From there I went on to the Shibori museum. Shibori is a 1300 hundred years old tradition of dyeing. By tying tiny knots on the silk cloth with fine thread, you make a resist the dye won´t penetrate when the fabric is lowered into the dye-pan. You can make amazing patterns, but it requires a vast amount of work. The picture below is showing half of a picture it took 40 people 2 years to make (on their free-time) Oh, and I got to try on a shibori/embroidered silk kimono. But still no geishas…

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So in the evening I joined a geisha-spotting-tour, which sounds a bit silly, but we learned a lot of history and tradition. And got to walk around in the Gion-district, which houses some of the oldest, well-known tea-houses in Japan.

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And guess what?! We finally spotted a real life geisha! Coming out from a theatre after her performance, rushing past everyone at an impressive speed on her 5 inch (12 cm) high wooden sandals. On her way to a private party at a tea-house. With at least 5 years of training, this tradition has seen a small upswing in recruitment the past years, after years of decline.

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Now there are around 200 geishas in Kyoto, and 80 maikos (apprentices). They start their training at 15, and after 5 years become a geisha. They can stay a geisha as long as they don´t marry, and the oldest one is over 90 years old!

Oh, and if you thought that a geisha was a prostitute, you are wrong! It is forbidden to touch them. They are great entertainers who sing and dance and make great conversation-partners.

Topics: Diverse, travel | No Comments »

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