• Beniko

21. Hako Makura (Box Pillow)

Maiko (舞妓) do not use wigs. Our hair are arranged with our own hair, and the style is to be kept for a certain period so that we do not untie/wash our hair everyday.

In addition, we use Hako Makura (箱枕, Box pillow), or Taka Makura (高枕, high length pillow), made of wood with cotton quilt on top. Probably you have seen these pillows in Japanese history dramas on TV.

As your Shikomi (仕込み, trainee period) progresses, and your hair grow long, Okasan (お母さん, the female owner of Yakata) says “let’s try” and set your hair in Wareshinobu (割れしのぶ, a style dedicated to new Maiko) style. When I got my first Wareshinobu, I also had to use Hakomakura for the first time in my life, in accordance with Okasan's instruction.

“Oh, no! I cannot sleep! It’s so uncomfortable….” After a few hours of turn and toss, finally I fell asleep, only to fell off of the pillow after a while. I had a total sleepless night.

In addition, I kept falling off after my Omisedashi (お店出し, debut), and was often scolded by the hair dresser for messing up the shape of my Bin (鬢, hair alongside of the face). My Onesan (お姉さん, mentor Geiko) used to tell me: Now you can be scolded and that's it. But at the time of my generation, there were sawdusts sprinkled around the box pillow. Just imagine, sawdusts and the treatment oil on your hair. You should know that's the strict way we were educated.

Oneisan’s instruction continues: In the old days, there were swords under the box pillow. If you fell, you'll get cut in the neck. Box pillow practice was such a matter for life.

I was freaked out when I heard the story, and blessed myself for being born to this age. However today, I am suspicious if my Onesan made up the story, in order to make me more serious about Hakomakura. The truth is...Well, nobody knows by now...

Thank you very much.

Talk to you later.

Beniko

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