Little Geisha Kitty
Earlier this Summer, I spent a whole afternoon kimono shopping, Japanese garden wandering, and enjoying a lovely Geisha performance at Getsuei Okiya — a sight that has remained in my mind’s eye long after the final tea ceremony was over.
In fact I’ve been daydreaming ever since… imagining myself sitting at the edge of a lake in a silken kimono, the early morning light casting a glow on the gilt surface of an ancient temple, herons fishing at the water’s edge, the air filled with the delicate notes of my shamisen…. ahhhh….
So what the heck was I waiting for? Geisha school, get ready for this Neko girl!
Well okay, I wouldn’t be the first Neko Geisha in Second Life (or so I’m told), but I was determined to be the most… um… memorable…
For those who didn’t know, Second Life is home to quite an active Geisha community, with more than a dozen okiyas (Geisha houses) at last count: Amatsu, Arakawa Hanamachi, Blue Lotus, Getsuei, Kami no, Karyukai (SL’s first), Maneki Neko, Nakamura, Pleasure Mountain, Pontocho, Sumire, Tombstone (in the historic Arizona sim), Yorokeikoku, Satoharu, and Little Yoshiwara.
This week in particular marks a very special time for Geishas: it’s the first-ever “Geisha Week” in Second Life, with all sorts of special performances by Karyukai, Yoshiwara, Amatsu, and Blue Lotus Okiyas. The coordinator behind this is the GRO (Geisha Registry Office) which is run by the Okasan of the Karyukai Teahouse, Miss April Cordeaux.
Events thus far have included a Thursday night performance of the story “Golden Hair Pin” at the lovely Karyukai Tea House (where you’ll find a free kimono and other lovely gifts on the front porch); Saturday morning the Geisha of Little Yoshiwara performed at Osho Meditation Island, and will perform again this coming Tuesday November 11, from 7 to 8pm SLT at Little Yoshiwara Teahouse. If you’ve not seen Geishas in Second Life before, I’d urge you to pay a visit.
To put it in the words of the lovely Kitty Pidgeon (photo at right), a long-time Geisha who just opened her very own Pontocho Okiya and Tea House, “it is really for your own self improvement.”
Hmm… okay… well, maybe all those barbed wire cuffs and bloody bandages in my inventory aren’t entirely necessary… I’ll have to think about this…
Miss Pidgeon spoke softly, while pouring me a cup of tea one afternoon. “Being a lady of grace is not easy, it takes a lot of discipline. However, through being graceful like these women, I have learned how to control my anger, be kinder to people, and never fight.”
I can certainly roll up my grungy kitty sleeves, dive into a kimono, and start dancing with the best of them…
She continued with a gentle smile, “The greatest part of this lifestyle is connecting with others who share your ideals and interests — which are usually your okiya sisters. You bond with them and support them as you would in a real-world situation, which makes the entire experience much more meaningful. Putting your okiya forward and serving a loving okasan is what any girl who trains to be Geisha would want to accomplish, whether in first or second life.”
Okay, sign me up. Heck I’m a cat, I already know how to move gracefully, and came naturally gifted with a talent for entertaining kitties of the opposite gender, so hey, what do I have to learn? A little flower arranging, a few chords on the shamisen…? Easy!
Mmm… not so much. While the commitment isn’t as long as in real life — in which it can take a young Maiko (apprentice Geisha) a full six years to learn the arts — most Second Life okiyas expect their virtual Geishas to undergo training for at least several months, if not up to a full year…!
For a lazy cat like me, this definitely posed somewhat of a problem. But my biggest discovery was yet to come…
At the end of my first week, I was told that becoming a full-fledged Geisha would require me to “leave my Neko ears and tail in my room.” What? Couldn’t I just decorate my ears with lovely flowers and wrap the kimono around my tail during dances? Nope. They take this stuff seriously here.
I gazed longingly at my shamisen, touched a tentative finger to my beautifully Geisha-quaffed hair, and beat kitty feet out the door into an early dawn mist. At least I came away with a cool new geisha outfit…
| Skin | Frick: Geisha – Sakura (store closed in April 2011)
| Hair | Orchid Dreams: Dusk II in ebony (this store has also closed; but check out the unique hairs at LittleGirl…)
| Kimono | GB / GiornoBrando: Plum snow
| Hair Ornaments | Fukuneko: Hanakan W – Hana Kansazhi (flowers)
| Shoes | GB / GiornoBrando (came with kimono)
| Shamisen instrument | Rumi’s Musical Instruments: Rumi Shamisen ver 2.0 (Note: Although the store is still here, the Shamisen is not currently in stock. Excellent alternative can be found at Satoko’s store, along with a variety of other geisha-friendly musical instruments)
My Extensive List of Second Life Kimono Stores:
Neko Geisha wannabe? Visit Maneki Neko Okiya – SL’s first Neko Geisha School
(I probably could have kept my beloved ears and tail had I gone here first!)
Video of Geishas dancing in Second Life at the Gion Project
Interactive Fan Dance for Geishas from Abranimations
Learn More About Geishas in RL
Geisha Silkscreen photo by the artistic Bobby Yoshikawa-san <3***
© Stacia Villota / Virtual Neko in Second Life – 2008