Geisha with Parasol, 1906.

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Geisha with parasol, 1906.

“[T]he dancing of the Geisha girl has nothing in common with the vulgar skirt dancing so popular in Europe and America. In Japan, such an exhibition would be considered a barbaric vulgarity. The Geisha’s dance consists mostly of a rhythmic, graceful movement, especially with the arms, and is so contrived and performed that it suggests the most beautiful poetic ideas.

“… At your request, the younger Geishas then proceed to the more dainty dancing, while the older Geishas sit in the background and play their Samisens and sing poetic little songs like this:

“‘The butterfly lives out its hour.
The frost stamps death upon the flower.
Dance on, dance on; such future fate is thine.
These triumphs of Roses and Wine.’

“The younger Geishas, in their scarlet petticoats and flowing sleeves, fan and parasol in their hands, imitate the butterflies flitting from flower to flower, or the maple leaves scattered by the autumn wind. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow, now backward, now forward, from right to left – the dancing girls glide over the soft matting, waving their flowing sleeves.”

Theatre Magazine, Volume 5, Yone Noguchi, 1905

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  1. Pingback: “Gion Kobu Hanamikouji”, Kyoto, c. 1920. | Old TokyoOld Tokyo

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