Maiko 10: ERIKAE
Your erikae! In Japanese geisha culture an ERIKAE, or "collar-turning" ceremony, marks the point at which a MAIKO (apprentice geisha) becomes a geisha. At the erikae, the maiko receives her geisha name and participates in a ritual of binding and loyalty with her Oneesan (older sister) called the SAN SAN KUDO, meaning "three-three-nine-times." If the young geisha candidate has no older sister, the san san kudo is between her and the okiya itself.
Amatsu Okiya recognizes the Geisha graduate with a private ceremony and initiation that takes place in the okiya and/or teahouse. The ceremony attendance is restricted to Okiya members. Following the ceremony, there is a public celebration where the Geisha graduate makes a grand entrance.
Pre-requisites for Erikae eligibility include:
*Promotion to Geisha is by invitation only after review by Okasan and select Amatsu Okiya Senior Geisha
*Behavior affects whether or not the invitation is forthcoming. Strive to adapt iki, maturity, responsibility and all the themes you have learned during the course of your training
*Satisfactory completion of all Maiko Lessons and assignments
*Conduct a matsuri (local festival) utilizing "The Event Checklist". You are in charge of the entire preparation, coordination and advertising. This event must include the participation of others
*Teach a class to okiya members
*Conduct a minimum of two teahouse nights on your own. You provide the entertainment by yourself. You may have one person accompany you on an instrument. This includes advertising.
*Receive permission to conduct your erikae
*Prepare your own ceremony in conjunction with your oneesan (san san kudo)
*If you have no oneesan, you will conduct your ceremony with the senior members of the okiya
Dress for Erikae: All members of the okiya who plan to attend will wear ceremonial black kimono. Maiko and Geisha are in formal, dress, hair and make-up.
Your public presentation will include the announcement of your new name. You will present a simple dance for your guests and then play hostess while the group visits and celebrates the attainment of your goal to Geisha!
When all is said and done, your dress will be more subdued then it was when you were maiko. Hair may be worn up or down, but always neat. Tasteful makeup. When you go out or attend events you will wear the white shironuri makeup and traditional geisha hair. Your kimono may be more showy for programs, but if you are attending it is most polite to wear a subdued rather than flashy kimono when you are geisha.
Geisha Name: This is also a time for you to have a geisha name given to you. Your Oneesan will choose your new name. If you are set on something, you must discuss it with her. The new geisha name can be worn using a titler. Your new name and its meaning must be presented at erikae.
More about san san kudo: It is said that the San-san-ku-do tradition began in the early Edo Period, which ran from 1600 to 1868. San-san-ku-do literally translates as "three-three-nine-times," and is a formal and ritualized drinking of a small amount of sake; a ceremony of binding; Japan has many unique aspects to traditional customs, not the least being the role of rice wine or sake. Sake has been an important part of ceremonies and rituals since ancient times, strengthening the bonds of friendship and business relationships.
Folklorist Noritake Kanzaki explains the importance of sake in cementing relationships in his book "San-San-Ku-Do," published by Iwanami Shoten. San-San-Ku-Do, generally called "sakazuki-goto," is a traditional custom. While it's common in most cultures to seal a bargain or relationship with a toast or drink, and even sharing from the same cup, the practice of 'sakaduki-goto' is unique in that it actually carries the same weight as exchanging written contracts or solemn promises," writes Kanzaki. "In no other country is there such a ritual which systemizes definitively the method of drinking."
The "cups" used are actually more like shallow bowls, several inches in diameter, and of the orange-reddish lacquer so tightly associated with all things Shinto. The special set of three cups sit stacked, smaller ones on top. The top cup represents heaven, the middle one earth, and the bottom cup represents humankind. The participants take turns sipping thrice from each cup. In the end, they will have sipped sake three times from each of three cups, with the total being nine times. Hence the name of the ritual, San-san-ku-do, or "three-three-nine-times." Why three and nine? Why not two-two-six or the even more intoxicating four-four-twelve? Because odd numbers are far more auspicious in Japan, and in particular three. Nine is the ultimate culmination of lucky odd numbers, being three times three.