Having suffered defeat at the hands of the banks, I needed some fun to take my mind off it all, and a Geisha makeover was something I had had planned for a long time.
Geisha, or Geiko in the Kyoto dialect, are artisans that traditionally entertain wealthy businessmen, and in Kyoto there are studios that you can visit to be dressed-up and photographed as a Geiko.
I opted for the Maiko, apprentice Geiko, makeover instead as the Kimono and head-dresses are more colourful. The experience started with me selecting my Kimono, a bright ultramarine one, with fresh green leaves and pink, salmon and white flowers printed on it. I changed into the undergarments provided me, a plain white cotton robe pulled down low at the back to allow for the nape painting and toed socks.
I am led to a chair with a large mirror facing me, my hair tied up in a net, the make-up artist begins to paint, whiting out my face. I close my eyes, I feel the cool paint brush, mark the distinctive, alluring, suggestive shapes on the nape of my neck. I follow the artist's instructions obediently as she works on my eyes, look up, close, open, look up, the red tinges of the eyeliner intensifying the green flecks in my eyes.
Make-up completed, I am dressed by the attendant, layers draped over my shoulders to create the red frame for the nape paint, and an under-skirt to be visible where the Kimono robe parts at the front. The robe follows, is tied expertly in place, I wonder briefly how the real Maiko can stand all these layers in the heat and humidity of summer, that all of the expertly painted on make-up does not drip straight off again. My obi follows, a cream with salmon flowers sash, designed to reduce and hide the curves, that most other cultures seek to enhance.
Last but not least, a wig is placed over my hair net, the transformation is complete. I face my reflection, I can barely see me peeking out from under the false hair and make-up, only the shape of my face and hazel eyes betraying me.
The photo shoot was fabulous, and the photographer was engaging, guiding me into the poses, placing all the props just so. It was simply magical, as were the results, 20 pictures, capturing all my Geisha glory, presented to me on a sample page and CD.
Definitely distracted from the day's dilemmas.