Three playful, smiling maiko, c. 1910.

1910sArts & CultureGeisha/Maiko/Onnanoko
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Three playful, smiling maiko, c. 1910.

“After luncheon the maiko danced for us while Jitsuko and another geisha played. Then, as my guest of honor had not yet acquired a taste for geisha dancing, the programme was changed, and Jitsuko set the little maiko to playing games.

“First, they showed us how to play their great game of ken but though we learned it, we could not compete with them in playing it. They were too quick for us. We pitched ‘quoits’ [ring toss] with them and were beaten. We played bottle and cup and were beaten. And, finally, they introduced us to a Japanese version of ‘Going to Jerusalem,’ which they play with cushions instead of chairs, with the samisen for music. Of course, they beat us at that.

“Who can sink down upon a cushion with the agility of a little Japanese girl? All in all, the Americans were beaten at every point and thoroughly enjoyed the beating.”

Saké, Geisha and Tea, by Julian Street, McClure’s Magazine, January 1921

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