• Beniko

11.Onisan and Oneisan


In Hamamachi (花街, Maiko and Geiko district), the first comers are respected and the age doesn’t matter. If you become Maiko even one day earlier than someone, you are the senior, Oneisan (お姉さん), to her. You will be called in accordance with a certain rule, such as "Beniko san neisan". Your name has to be followed by "san + neisan". Not "Beniko neisan".

As for elderly male customers, no matter who they are, are called as Shacyo (社長, company president), Senmu (専務, company executives), or Sensei (先生, teacher). Young customers and actors are called by their names. In addition, they can be simply called as “Onisan (お兄さん)”, or also called by the name with “san + onisan” added, such as “Suzuki san onisan (鈴木さんお兄さん)”. Given names are also used, such as "Taro san onisan (太郎さんお兄さん)". Again, not "Suzuki onisan" nor "Taro onisan". Nobody knows why is it so, but everybody obeys the rule without thinking.

Otokoshi (男衆), male staff members who help us to change costumes, are called as Nisan (兄さん). Not Onisan.

As we get to know with each other with customers, sometimes we call them by nicknames. “Gohan Tabe (ご飯たべ) no otosan (お父さん)” means “a daddy who frequently takes Maiko to dinner”. “Gohan Tabe” means going to dinner with customers.

By the time you get used to call customers by nicknames, perhaps approximately 3 years since your Omisedashi (debut), there will be many new Maiko after you. You will be proud of yourself feeling like a Oneisan and might want to behave just like that. I remember once I and my colleague Maiko doodled on the face of a drunk customer while he was asleep. We laughed with each other very hard...I know that was not nice. Please forgive us…

Thank you very much.

Talk to you later!

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