Skip to main content

Even Professionals Practice Too

Today I went to Nishi Chaya (just like the other popular tea district, Higashi Chaya but in the West instead of the East) to watch geisha and meiko at their dance practice for an upcoming performance.

That's Nishi Chaya with it's traditional wooden-latticed teahouses.

We went inside a building which had a large tatami practice room on the second floor with a raised wooden stage. They were already at work when we arrived: some meiko (geisha in training) brought us tea and a snack before sitting gracefully, seiza style, with their legs tucked beneath them. It's the polite way to sit but your ankles and legs fall asleep and start to ache within a few minutes.

The teacher was an old Japanese man. He was very nice when he talked to me, albeit briefly, but when the dance practice resumed he turned into a nit-picking, fan-slapping fiend.

Here he is doing the motions along with them. Despite his age he was very agile.

The longest dance was a duet, story dance with a man (obviously not a geisha, but a famous local performer) and a woman. The story goes (I had it explained to me) is that the woman is a princess an the man is a kitsune (mischievous fox spirit) disguised as a man. The princess has a drum that she's playing, and the fox wants the drum because its skin is made from his parents.

He was equally picky with these dancers as well; oftentimes he made them repeat a part over and over again. You can't discount the hard work that geisha and traditional performers put into their craft. It's nothing like the stereotypical Memoirs of a Geisha movie. This was definitely a treat to see.

Also everyone keeps telling me my face is small. Apparently that's a good thing.


Popular posts from this blog

Taking a Breather

Sometimes when you're in Tokyo, as wonderful as its bustling atmosphere is, you just want to forget you're in the middle of Tokyo.

A few weeks ago I was chatting with a guy from Sweden who regularly came to Japan on business and he said that despite how much he loved Tokyo he could never live here because of the lack of green space. Tokyo has its parks, of course, like all major cities, but if you want unspoiled greenery you have to be willing to head at least forty minutes outside of the sprawling metropolis limits. In winter this desire to surround oneself with greenery might not matter as much, but now that spring is seeping into the atmosphere and the upcoming sakura season is on everyone's mind (NHK even puts out an annual "forecast" for sakura!) the neon lights and concrete jungle start to feel a little oppressive.

That's when little hideaways like the Sato Sakura Museum and Kohmeisen come in handy.

The Sato Sakura Museum is a small museum in Nakameguro…

Short Hair, Don't Care: Model Behavior

I like to think I have a wide range of accomplishments under my belt:

Accidentally over-caffeinated myself conducting ethnographic research--check
Read 3+ books in a single day--check
Never (yet) pulled an all-nighter--check
Sung at Carnegie Hall--check
Published a poem--check

But now I can add a decidedly interesting item to that list:
Been a hair model in Japan--CHECK.

It's a bit of a long story.

It all starts with coffee, actually, like many of my adventures here in Japan do. I was checking out a coffee shop in the too, too cool area of Daikanyama (no, seriously, that entire neighborhood is just Too Cool for me, I don't even know why I was there). There I met stylist Yusuke, who asked if I wanted to appear in a PR photoshoot for the opening of his salon brand's newest branch, boy Tokyo, Harajuku. They're (wisely!) making a site to appeal to foreign clientele--it's a smart move because it's really hard to find a place that has stylists who truly are comfortab…

100K Announcement


Thanks to everyone who has read and followed my journeys in Japan from 2011 to 2017. Your support of my adventures and observations means the world to me.

In celebration of Riceandramen finally hitting 100k views, I am pleased to announce that I will be running a giveaway!

I will send one lucky person a custom box of goodies from Japan that could include (but isn't limited to): snacks, stationary, character goods, traditional Japanese crafts and more. The only limits are weight and size and your imagination (I'll be keeping everything small and light to keep the shipping costs down).

Without further ado, the details and rules of the giveaway are as follows:


The giveaway will run from today, February 25 2018 JST/ February 24 CST to March 11, 2018 JST/ March 10 CST.You don't have to be in Japan to enter: since almost all of my readers are international, this giveaway will be, too. The winner will be picked at random and notified via p…