Geisha's Geimyo (And Your Geisha Name/Persona)

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Geisha's Geimyo (And Your Geisha Name/Persona)

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 30, 2016 7:03 pm

Cie:

I found this web page and it reminded me of one of my favourite geisha-related topic topics... the naming of geisha.
I have always found Japanese names so much more interesting than Western ones. While our names usually do have a meaning in there somewhere, they aren't as lovely or as explicitly meaningful as Japanese ones.

Like this example... a child with the name of Miyako was named because her parents wanted her to grow beautiful ('mi' meaning beautiful) and because she was born in March ('ya' meaning March). And 'ko', as we probably all know, is the kanji for 'child' that is often used as an ending for feminine names.

Geisha's geimyo (professional names, traditionally taken by artists) tend to be somewhat more flamboyant than regular names, so they are of even greater interest to me. My favourite example of this is from 'Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan' by Lafcadio Hearn, aka Yakumo Koizumi, a writer who lived in the late 1800's:

"This lover presumes to write his girl's whole name; but the example, so
far as I am able to discover, is unique. Other enamoured ones write only
the yobi-na of their bewitchers; and the honourable prefix, 'O,' and the
honourable suffix, 'San,' find no place in the familiarity of love.
There is no 'O-Haru-San,' 'O-Kin-San,' 'O-Take-San,' 'O-Kiku-San'; but
there are hosts of Haru, and Kin, and Take, and Kiku. Girls, of course,
never dream of writing their lovers' names. But there are many geimyo
here, 'artistic names,'--names of mischievous geisha who worship the
Golden Kitten, written by their saucy selves: Rakue and Asa and Wakai,
Aikichi and Kotabuki and Kohachi, Kohana and Tamakichi and Katsuko, and
Asakichi and Hanakichi and Katsukichi, and Chiyoe and Chiyotsuru.
'Fortunate-Pleasure,' 'Happy-Dawn,' and 'Youth' (such are their
appellations), 'Blest-Love' and 'Length-of-Days,' and 'Blossom-Child'
and 'Jewel-of-Fortune' and 'Child-of-Luck,' and 'Joyous-Sunrise' and
'Flower-of-Bliss' and 'Glorious Victory,' and 'Life-as-the-Stork's-for-
a-thousand-years.' Often shall he curse the day he was born who falls in
love with Happy-Dawn; thrice unlucky the wight bewitched by the Child-
of-Luck; woe unto him who hopes to cherish the Flower-of-Bliss; and more
than once shall he wish himself dead whose heart is snared by Life-as-
the-Stork's-for-a-thousand-years. And I see that somebody who inscribes
his age as twenty and three has become enamoured of young Wakagusa,
whose name signifies the tender Grass of Spring. Now there is but one
possible misfortune for you, dear boy, worse than falling in love with
Wakagusa--and that is that she should happen to fall in love with you.
Because then you would, both of you, write some beautiful letters to
your friends, and drink death, and pass away in each other's arms,
murmuring your trust to rest together upon the same lotus-flower in
Paradise."

(No, I don't get the 'golden kitten' thing either.. it may be referring to those maneki neko. Koizumi-sensei may have mistaken them for objects of worship, or he may just be being witty.)

Let's forget the 'family' character thing for a little while (maybe we can pretend that the first character of our Oneesan's name was unlucky for us) and think about the names we'd like if we became geisha.
Personally, I quite like Chiyotsuru (from the above passage) or Fuyumi, but I can't really decide. I think I would probably still have been quite a tomboy if I had been a geisha in the Edo period.. I'd have worn dark greens, rusty dark reds, browns, leafy patterns (current dream kimono and obi).. I'd have wanted to be among the first to begin wearing haori..  and I'd probably have tried to find some way to sneak a sword or staff into my dancing, or at least play the part of the boy in story dances. (Damn, it's a shame that the SCA doesn't do Edo.) So naturally, I'm quite fond of the 'nosuke' and 'yakko' names.. Takenosuke? Matsuyakko?

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Re: Geisha's Geimyo (And Your Geisha Name/Persona)

Post by IG Team » Thu Jun 30, 2016 7:04 pm

Immortal Geisha:

I am currently working on an article about geisha names - along with a database of different names and meanings that link over to the various photographs of the said geisha and maiko :) The database is a massive undertaking - I've been working on it on and off for years :P

I'm not sure what name I'd take (my real name is Japanese - it means "above all beauty" 8O btw...I am not Japanese...just thought I'd clarify that.). I think it would have to be something with ume as ume is my favourite flower. Possibly Umechiyo, Umeyasu, Umechika or Umecho

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Re: Geisha's Geimyo (And Your Geisha Name/Persona)

Post by Gikuyu » Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:05 am

Will the option of adding this feature to your profile come back?
I have mine somewhere saved since I liked it so much. Would love to add it again !

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Re: Geisha's Geimyo (And Your Geisha Name/Persona)

Post by Sayuri Rose » Wed Mar 29, 2017 12:20 am

For some reason, I remember mine being Umemikumo. Which I think meant something like 'Plum blossom watching the clouds'. At least I think that's what it meant.

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Re: Geisha's Geimyo (And Your Geisha Name/Persona)

Post by Gikuyu » Wed Mar 29, 2017 9:38 am

Mine used to be 'Kouren' something with a sky lotus

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Re: Geisha's Geimyo (And Your Geisha Name/Persona)

Post by Kikyou » Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:32 pm

Mine was Suzuka, I think, from lily of the valley, but I prefer Kureha, which was given to me by my dance teacher

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