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59. Inside the Kago (Straw) Bag



When I was a Maiko (舞妓), sometimes I was asked what kind of items I carried in my Kago (かご, straw bag).

The items I usually carried in my Kago were mostly two Maiougi (舞扇, fan for Japanese dancing), a Tenten (てんてん, a towel used for Japanese dancing made of silk crepe), an Obeni (お紅, Japanese style lip color), Aburatorikami (脂取り紙, facial blotting paper) sheets, a mirror, and a pair of Tabi (足袋, socks for Kimono). I carried two fans because I had a dance program which used two fans at a time.

Have you noticed that there's no wallet in the list above?

I am not sure about the trend nowadays, however, I was strictly told that Maiko were not meant to buy things in cash.

Most of the items I needed were delivered to our Yakata (屋形, Maiko house). If I wanted to buy things in town, all I had to do was to tell the store my name and the name of Yakata. Then, the bill will be sent.

When purchasing something at a department store, we had Gaisho (外商, assistance for special customers) service. Besides Maiko never goes to any department store by herself. So, when I was a Maiko, I have never purchased anything in cash. That was after I became a Geiko (芸妓) when I had a wallet of my own.

Things were the same for Geiko that they don't have to pay in cash for anything. But I was proud having a wallet anyway. Maybe because it made me feel I was no longer a Maiko but a Geiko.

By the way, in Hanamachi (花街, Maiko and Geiko district), wallets were referred to as Gassai (がっさい). We carried Gassai inbetween our Kimono (着物) and Obi (帯, Kimono Belt), wrapped in Washi (Japanese craft paper) with Netsuke (根付, small toggle with a cord) attached. I wonder why it was called so. This is one of the mysteries I should have solved by asking my Oneisan (お姉さん, mentor Geiko). My oneisan knew everything.

Thanks a lot.

Talk to you soon.

Beniko

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