Geisha Makeup

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

If you have been following this blog for a while now, you have already seen I am fascinated by geishas. Their style, their presence, their colorful kimonos. Everything is so magical about the lifestyle of these women. 

A while ago I visited a exhibition about the geishas. They showed kimonos, hairpieces, makeup tools, fans and tea sets. Everything that was exhibited was still in use and was on loan from a Japanese Geisha House for the exhibition. All the different pieces looked like antiques and of a different time and I believe because of that, it felt so magical.

Today I wanted to share with you the beautiful make-up techniques the geishas use.

The application of makeup is hard to perfect and is very time-consuming. Makeup is applied before dressing to avoid dirtying the kimono. At the exhibition there was a video of a geisha (or maiko) playing, preparing her makeup. I have found the video on YouTube and placed it below. I love to see how they put on this makeup with so much care and composure. It is a very serene ritual, which is beautiful to watch. 

A fun fact to know, have you ever noticed the W or V shape in the neckline where there is no white make-up applied? The nape (neck or komata) is the part of the body considered very erotic in Japanese culture. The geisha will leave a "V" shape unpainted to enhance the sensuality of this area. For special occasions, for instance when a maiko becomes a geisha, they leave three lines forming a "W" unpainted. The naked skin shown on the nape is a veiled reference to other intimate parts men would be longing to discover. Also the kimono is dressed in a way to leave it bare. 

I've also read somewhere (unfortunately when composing this post, I couldn't  find that article anymore) that in ancient times this shape was made to imitate the shape of mount Fuji, for good luck and prosperity.

Below you can watch the short film of a geisha applying her makeup. It's 33 minutes, but trust me, just poor yourself a nice cup of Jasmine tea, sit back and get enchanted by the ritual.

The film was made in April 1999 in Kyoto by Windfall Films (all credits can be found on YouTube below the film).

Visiting Japan and attending a tea ceremony is high on my wish list. Let me know if you've ever been there and what was your experience?

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I'm Jorien, a 30 something creative girl, dreamer, idealist, world traveler and addicted to books. This is my lifestyle blog where I aim to inspire with posts about design, art, culture, decor ideas, travel ideas and recipes. Love and life in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.