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Hiki-Iwai, Greetings of Retirement



When a Maiko (舞妓) or a Geiko (芸妓) retires, small gifts called Hiki-Iwai (引き祝い, greeting gift upon one's retirement) are sent to customers, teachers, colleagues and others, as an expression of gratitude. The gift is adorned with a triangle paper on which the Maiko's real name and the stage name are written.


In the old days, a package of boiled rice was sent. If the Maiko was never coming back to Hanamachi (花街, Maiko district), the rice was white. If she was not sure, the rice was Sekihan (赤飯, red rice), meaning she might or might not come back.


At my turn, I sent white rice with red Nanten (南天, sacred bamboo) berries in it. I did it because I was told that pure white rice could be too strong to convey my determination. Nowadays, a package of sugar or a handkerchief is sent instead of boiled rice.


The retiring Maiko do not put on a Shironuri (白塗り, white make up unique to Maiko) anymore at the time of social calls for the farewell greetings. They get dressed in plain Kimono with one crest and put on a regular make up.


Maiko's retirement was referred to as "become a towner", meaning "not a professional anymore".


"Congrats"

"Oh, you are leaving Hanamachi. Good luck!"

"What a pity. You are a good Maiko."

These are what they said to me upon my retirement.


After I finished all my farewell visits to Ochaya (お茶屋, tea houses), masters of dance, singing, instruments, and tea ceremony, as well as the Administration office, I made my final bow to the venue of my classes deeply.


The last word I received as a Maiko from my Okasan (お母さん) was: Even though you retire and leave Hanamachi, you and your Oneisan (お姉さん, the mentor Geiko) should be tightly bonded with each other for the rest of your life. Don't you dare forget about it.


Lastly, here I have to announce my retirement from this blog to you today. As of this article, I would like to put down my pen. I truly appreciate your kind attention until today.


Writting this blog has brought me to my yeasteryears, to the extent that I had never expected. It gave me laughs and made me blushed, remembering all the memories of my youth. I learned a lot from this.


I hate to say good bye, but I have to.

Thank you very much, and so long!


Beniko

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