• Beniko

9. OCHOBO (Maiko Trainee Little Girl)


My Minarai (見習い, Maiko intern) period was in April amid the Spring Dance performance. It was literally an on-the-job-training period one month before my Omisedashi (お店出し, debut). As the site of Minarai, a tea house was chosen, and there I was given opportunities to learn about many rules and codes in Ozaashiki (お座敷, Maiko banquet). As the internship passed and as I got used to it, I became allowed to join Ozaashiki at various kinds of venues.

We, Maiko (舞妓) interns wear an Obi (帯, sash belt for Kimono) called “Handarari (半だらり)” or “Handara (半だら)” whose length is half as the regular ones. It was one of the important training for us to get used to walking in Okobo (おこぼ, unstable shaped sandals only for Maiko) while Obi is still short and light. Another difficult training was grasping the layout of buildings of tea houses. We had to learn the locations of the rest rooms or pantries as for each tea houses. Since the buildings of major tea houses are usually huge, it was very difficult to me.

In the morning, Minarai have to pay courtesy visits to Oneisan (お姉さん, Geiko) who was serving at the same Ozashiki previous night. We had to say, “Oneisan, thank you very much for Yazen (やぜん, the previous night)". Oh but wait, what is Yazen anyway? The previous evening? Gosh, I had a lot to study!

Well, it was quite a month, but luckily I was filled with joy and anticipation. Just because I was going to be a Maiko in only one month!

There was a time I got downhearted and cry during my Minarai period, feeling as if I am totally useless. I remember when I was crying in secret, an elder Geiko found me and said:

“Who is this Ochobo-san (little girl)? Now stop crying and show me your face. Your makeup is a mess. Why don’t you come here and let me mend it…”.

She was so kind…My mentor Oneisan was very strict and I would have been terribly scolded if she found me crying, however, this elder Oneisan was truly kind. In the old days, Maiko Interns were referred to as Ochobo-san (pretty little one).

Thank you very much and talk to you later.

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