Geisha games | Innocent fun for adults

When you think of Japan, you will picture lots of things like Fuji san, Ninja, and Shushi…and the thing that will always be among them may be Geisha or Maiko.
Geisha is a woman who sings, dances, or play a musical instrument to liven up the banquet and also serves guests with sake. In the Kanto region, we call the full-fledged woman who works independently Geisha and the novice woman who is still in training Hangyoku. On the other hand, in the Kansai region like Kyoto, the former one is called Geigi and the latter one Maiko. They are professional women who have been taught how to sing, dance, and play the shamisen to entertain guests totally for several years. Though many of geisha are young girls of around twenty, there are no age limit set nor retirement plans. There is even an 80-year-old geisha on active service!

And the games which are played with geisha are called Geisha asobi or Ozashiki asobi. The common rule among those games is that the loser should drink sake. Let me introduce some of a bit strange, elegant,and chic games.

〇Omawari san
Two people stand on both sides of a drum and beat the drum twice to the rhythm of singing omawarisan~♪ and then toss up. The winner will beat the drum with the stick and the loser will turn around. Repeat this to the rhythm and the person who lost the toss successively twice will be the loser.

〇Tora tora or Toraken
A rock, paper, scissors game with gesture setting a folding screen between players and toss up to the shamisen. At the end of the song “tora to ra to ra tora tora to ra to ra tora”, jump from the behind of the screen and strike a pose.
Tiger → perform tiger pose with growling (a rock)
An old lady → perform walking with a stick pose (scissors)
Watonai → perform spearing pose (paper)

Two people sit face-to-face, set a low table between them, and put some small thing like a cap of sake bottle or a lighter that can be covered by hand on it. Put their hands in turn on it to the Konpirafunefune music. You can grasp and take it when you put your hand on it.When there is the thing on the table, put your open hand (paper) and if there is nothing on it, put your fist (a rock). If you made a mistake, you will be the loser. The music will gradually be faster and the game will continue until either one makes a mistake.

Last these are five manners you’d better know before you play a geisha asobi!
①When dancing or singing started, be silent and listen to it!
Selling a performance is the task of geisha. Watching it is guest’s etiquette!
②Call geisha “Onee san (ma’am)”!
Even if she is fifty years old, don’t call her “Oba san (old lady)”. All geisha are “Onee san”.
③Put on clean socks and brand-new shoes to go to play a geisha asobi!
Never wear socks with a hole when you enter ozashiki (a drawing room)! It is an etiquette to put on brand-new dark blue socks.
④When you play a geisha asobi, fully enjoy it without shame!
If you are invited to play the game by geisha, enjoy it feeling like a child again without shame!
⑤Recommend not dishes but sake to geisha!
Basically geisha don’t eat food at banquet. Don’t force them to eat but enjoy sake together.
According to these manners, please enjoy geisha asobi!

Photo by, Joi Ito

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