• Beniko

42. Maiko Accents

In Hanamachi (花街, the Maiko and Geiko district), we Maiko (舞妓) refer to taxis (タクシー) as "Otomo (おとも)". For example, we say "Your Otomo has arrived" to our customers.

When my daughter was a school girl, she really liked to mimic my Maiko accents. For her, taxis are Otomo, and beauty parlors are Kami-i-san (髪結いさん). I had to correct my own Maiko accents after I found out that she was being fooled by other kids because of the way she spoke.

Recently, in the afternoon on Kotohajime (事始め, Maiko's social call day in December), I payed a call on my Yakata (屋形, Maiko house) and happened to see many of my former colleagues. We were very happy for the unexpected reunion and spend some time together reminiscing the old days, and as I shared my daughter's story, we found out that everybody had the same kind of troubles too.

For example, you cannot say "Otano moshimasu (おたのもうします)” when introducing yourself at PTA meetings, and "Kannin dosse (かんにんどっせ)” when apologizing to someone, because those expressions are very unique to Hanamachi.

If I think back, we were all so inexperienced to the outside world. Just imagine, every single day, we go to lessons right after the school, followed by the heavy household tasks of Yakata. We had our debut right after the high school graduation and worked every day only with one day-off a month. We never had a chance to enjoy little normal things like any average girls do.

One colleague said, "We all have the after-effect of being Maiko!!", and everybody nodded deeply.

Thank you very much.

Talk to you soon.