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58. Aijo, Reservation Letters

When we Maiko (舞妓) get calls from clients, it is referred to as "Aijo". For example, it goes like this:

Hey, Beniko, you got an Aijo tonight.

Hey, Beniko, do you have any Aijo tomorrow?

I once wondered what are the kanji (漢字) charcters for that. The Kanji characters are "逢い状”, which literally means "a letter of proposal for a rendezvou", and it worked as "a reservation letter". According to my Oneisan (お姉さん, Geiko as a mentor figure), Aijo was a kind of love letters from customers to Maiko.

In the old times where there was no telephone, customers wrote letters to Maiko if they wanted to call the Maiko to their Ozashiki (お座敷, Maiko party), and the letter was called Aijo. The Aijo was delivered from Ochaya (お茶屋) to Yakata (屋形, Maiko house) and the Maiko went to the Ozashiki she was called for. The more popular she gets, the more Aijo she carries inbetween the layers of her Kimono (着物) collars.

Aijo, what a meaningful name for a letter...Today, the term Aijo is still used in Hanamachi (花街, Maiko and Geiko district).

The monthly payment we get was referred to as Shikiri (しきり). Other than Aijo or Shikiri, there were a lot of other terms unique to Hanamachi, such as Mirare (みられ) or Koyasan (こうやさん). Mirare is a kind of Ozashiki I hated the most, where the customer calls many Maiko in order to decide his favorite Maiko. Koyasan is another Hanamachi term for bathroom. When you want to be excused from Ozashiki, you tell your Oneisan (お姉さん, Geiko who is a mentor figure), "I go to Koyasan" and none of your customer will notice it.

I have heard that every other service industry has developed its unique terms. Isn't it interesting?

Talk to you later.




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