Geisha West Coast Tour Coming to SoCal

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Visiting performers: Miehina (geiko), Kanako (maiko) and Konami (maiko).

The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles presents three authentic geisha performers from Kyoto, along with geisha expert Peter MacIntosh, for a series of extraordinary cultural events during their inaugural U.S. West Coast tour.

Through dance, music, lectures and film, they will be introducing the beauty and mystery of Kyoto’s “flower and willow world.” This will be a rare opportunity to meet with real geisha and learn the history and continuing traditions of ancient Japan.

The tour begins on Wednesday, Sept. 4, at Portland Japanese Garden with “Geisha” Unraveling the Art and Mystery.” This event is sold out. The Southern California schedule is as follows:

Thursday, Sept. 5

• Lecture and performance from 2:15 to 3:35 p.m. at Main Stage, Theatre Arts Building, Santa Monica College, 1900 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. Free admission.

Geisha expert Peter MacIntosh

MacIntosh will share his insights on geisha culture while laying a cultural framework to help demystify it. One geiko (Kyoto term for geisha) and two maiko (geisha in training) will perform traditional dance and music. Q&A session and geisha games will follow.

• Meet and Greet: Geisha at the Pier from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Santa Monica Pier, Ocean Avenue and Colorado Avenue, Santa Monica. Free public event.

Come and meet in person three geisha in their traditional kimono and oshiroi makeup along the beautiful Santa Monica Beach. This will be a rare opportunity to take photos and video of these elusive performing artists.

• Film screening, lecture and performance from 7 to 9 p.m. at Edgemar Center for the Arts, 2437 Main St., Santa Monica. Free but registration required. Light refreshments will be served. Photo opportunities with geisha before and between programs.

Engagement 1: Documentary film screening of “Real Geisha Real Women” at 7 p.m.; lecture and performance at 8:15 p.m. (This event is full.)

Engagement 2: Lecture and performance at 7 p.m.; documentary film screening at 8:15 p.m.

Lecture by MacIntosh and traditional dance and music performed by three geisha. (45 minutes)

“Real Geisha Real Women” (2009), produced by MacIntosh, features the lives of several women in Kyoto of various generations who are, or have been, geiko and maiko. Their stories are told in their own words as a series of vignettes without the use of a narrator. Rare footage of their journeys outside of Kyoto includes a hometown visit, a trip to Tokyo, as well as travels abroad. (40 minutes)

Friday, Sept. 6

• Meet and greet with geisha, lecture and performance, 1:45 to 4 p.m. at SuihoEn Japanese Garden, 6100 Woodley Ave., Van Nuys. (This event is full.)

• An Evening with Geisha from Kyoto, Japan, 6 to 9 p.m. at Storrier Stearns Japanese Garden, 270 Arlington Dr., Pasadena. Admission: $100 general, $90 garden members.

Enjoy the beauty and artistry of Japan’s most famous and historical entertainers as they perform in the Niko-an Teahouse. Experience the essence of omotenashi, the abstract concept of both visible and invisible hospitality in Japanese culture.

To register or for more information, call (323) 761-7510 or visit: https://www.jflalc.org/ac-event-geisha

Performers

• Miehina (Geiko), Miyagawa-cho Geisha District

Born in Kyoto, Miehina is considered a “star” in Kyoto and hired throughout Japan for her dancing and shamisen music skills. She has traveled internationally to perform as a geisha at events in England, Ireland, Holland, Finland, and New York City. She will be playing the shamisen during this tour.

• Kanako (Maiko), Miyagawa-cho Geisha District

Born in Osaka, Kanako is a senior maiko who will become a full-fledged geisha this fall. Among her many customers are kabuki and Hollywood actors. She will be dancing during this tour.

• Konami (Maiko), Gion-kobu Geisha District

Born in Niigata, Konami is one of the most popular maiko in Gion, and in high demand. She is a senior **maiko** known for her beautiful dancing skills. She will be dancing during this tour.

Lecturer

Peter MacIntosh is a geisha culture expert, media fixer, interpreter, mixed media artist, and entrepreneur. After playing professional soccer for the Nova Scotia Clippers, he left his hometown of 22 years in 1993 and traveled to Kyoto. He first began photographing the ancient capital’s nature and architecture, and soon found his niche among the geisha in the “Flower and Willow World.” By 1999 he had established himself as a Kyoto-based fixer and cultural liaison for television, film and print media.

He subsequently worked with dozens of international projects. This included location scouting for the Hollywood film “Memoirs of a Geisha” (2005). These experiences gave him the confidence to write, produce and direct his first, feature-length documentary, “Real Geisha Real Women.” That same year he began teaching his course “Geisha: Past, Present, Future” for the Japanology division of the International Studies Department at Kansai University (2009-2017). In addition, he is a professional photographer and painter, and his works can be seen at his Gallery Kohfu in the heart of Kyoto.

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