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Sakuragawa: A geisha and maiko RPG
Promoting Sakuragawa 
8th-Mar-2012 04:45 pm
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Kimitoshi’s misedashi was the biggest even in the district in a while, but it was far from the only one that was going to happen that year. About a week after that event, Hanatoshi and Kanotoshi appeared on the front steps of the district’s other three okiya, as well as in the doorways of the local ochaya and businesses and at the doors of their teachers’ classrooms to announce that Hanatoshi had made the decision to become a geiko. It wasn’t really a surprise to anyone, since she was very dedicated to the profession, but the announcement that someone had officially decided to stay on was always a happy event in Sakuragawa. Beginning that day, Hanatoshi changed her hairstyle from the ofuku she had been wearing since she turned 18 to the special hairstyle called osafune, the hairstyle most Kobayashi girls wore as a prelude to sakkou.

Once the excitement over her announcement and Kimitoshi’s misedashi died down, though, the folks in charge in Sakuragawa (in other words, the teachers and the four okaasan) started feeling a little tense. Now that Kimitoshi had debuted, there weren’t any more minarai, and only two shikomi. On the surface this wasn’t a bad thing. Sakuragawa was a small district, after all, and many houses in other districts went for long periods of time without even one shikomi. But the problem was that very few girls made it past the shikomi stage, and then not all of them made it through the maiko stage. But without new people coming into Sakuragawa, the district wouldn’t survive.

Clearly, something had to be done.

And so it was that, as the beginning of April rolled around, the district’s teachers, ochaya owners, and okaasan all crowded into the Ishida house for a conference. They drank tea, ate snacks, and discussed the issue of how to attract more future maiko and geiko to the district.

But after discussing for several hours, they had reached an impasse. It was time for an expert opinion. Ichigokoro went to see if Hotaru was home, and called for her to come down to the already-crowded sitting room.

When she arrived, everyone exchanged greetings, and the people already in the room shifted around a little so Hotaru could have a place to sit too. Once she was settled in, the shamisen teacher Takei Fumiya picked up a small notebook from where it sat in front of the foreign woman who had been taking photos at Kimitoshi’s misedashi and studied a page on which she had been scribbling wildly for much of the meeting. He sighed.

“Hotaru-chan,” he said, “you have probably already noticed that Sakuragawa is a very small place. To make a long story short, we’re working on some ideas to attract more young women interested in becoming maiko and geiko. We have already decided to let Yaesuzu’s mother write a manga about her life as a maiko, ad we’re considering letting this year’s spring dance be filmed and broadcast as a TV special. The other big ideas right now are to put up a website that would tell people about the district and give them an easy way to inquire about becoming maiko or geiko, to hire a team to make a documentary -- it could be about Sakuragawa in general or it could follow one or two specific people, like some of the ones that have come out of Kyoto recently -- or to,” and here he paused for a moment as his eyes darted to the woman beside him, “or two begin allowing foreigners to join the district. My wife says there are a lot of foreigners interested in becoming maiko or geiko, but honestly we’re not so sure about the viability of that option…”

“Anyway,” his wife interrupted before more drama could unfold, “we wanted to ask all of the maiko and geiko here what made them want to become maiko or geiko, and what made them choose Sakuragawa over their other options. And since you’re here right now, we figured we would start by asking you.”
11th-Mar-2012 11:14 pm (UTC)
Hotaru had been writing a letter to her mother about Kimitoshi's misedashi when the summons came from Okaasan to join her in the main room. She was nonplussed to find not only Okaasan there, but what seemed like every person involved in Sakuragawa's Flower and Willow world. She bowed nervously and stammered her greetings, wondering what could have been important enough to bring them all together, and what on earth she was doing there.

She blinked several times before answering the shamisen instructor. "Why did I choose Sakuragawa?" She'd never really thought about it, when she chose to be a geiko as a career, traveling to Tokyo or Kyoto just never seemed an option. "Well, this is my home city," she began softly. Maybe if there were no okiya here, I might have considered going to Kyoto, but why should I have to travel so far when we have wonderful geiko and maiko here?"
13th-Mar-2012 06:52 am (UTC)
The others kind of pondered that for a moment, some of them nodding along in agreement. Harukawa's okaasan leaned forward a bit and pursed her lips. "We truly do have a wonderful place here, don't we. I suppose the only thing left to do is decide how best to show people outside of the district that."

"A documentary seems...dry," Ueno Yukiko said. "Anyone who wants to learn simple facts can find any of the old documentaries out there to learn from, right? And anything that can't be learned from a documentary they would have to come here to learn anyway..."

Mrs. Takei turned her attention back to Hotaru. "You're probably more in touch with the world of teenage Japanese girls than anyone here, and it's the teenage Japanese girls we really nee to attract. I know some of the ladies here joined because of documentaries, but it does seem kind of overdone...even to me. And everyone here knows that I practically live off of documentaries and academic papers." A quiet chuckle worked its way through the room, and Fumiya tried to hide his grin behind the notebook. His wife let out a little cough and continued. "What about a regular TV show? Something with regular episodes every week or two, showing stuff about what the maiko and geiko do, showing off interesting places in the city, showing maiko and geiko as normal people? Or, what about if we could get some advertizing contracts for the maiko or geiko to advertize some products that are...classy, but could be popular with young people?"

"They have done that in Kyoto," one of the drum teachers said. "A couple of the maiko there even did a commercial for that American fried chicken."

Ichigokoro looked at Hotaru. "Anything seem like a good idea to you? Keep in mind that you would be one of the people involved in the shows or advertizements or documentaries..."
14th-Mar-2012 04:26 am (UTC)
Hotaru felt her mouth going dry. A TV show? Her? Certainly, she wanted to entertain, but this was something entirely different! She could only imagine what could go wrong- her tripping in her expensive kimono, spilling a drink on a client, or worse, her okaasan...

She pulled her thoughts away, thinking now of what she, a teenaged girl, would watch herself on TV. Most of her friends watched Jersey Shore (and she did, too, unable to tear her eyes away from those tacky Americans.) Like many of her friends, she used her cell phone to watch videos on You Tube, which gave her an idea.

"What if we had a You Tube Channel? That way we could upload videos that people could watch at any time." She fidgeted a little. "You know, like Maru the cat. He has over 190,000 subscribers. And that led to a calendar, and a book..."
16th-Mar-2012 05:20 am (UTC)
Most of the people in the room clearly had no idea who Maru the cat was. The Takei both stifled giggles, though, as did the youngest dance teacher and the Kobayasahi okaasan. Clearly some people kept up with the internet.

"That's not a bad idea, actually," Fumiya said.

"I think a nice photobook and a yearly calendar are wonderful ideas," the Harukawa okaasan said. "Especially if different sizes are offered for the calendar."

"It's a bit less intimidating than a TV show," Yukiko the dance teacher agreed. "And if the videos and the other things become popular enough, we could always revisit the idea."

Ichigokoro nodded and smiled at Hotaru. "Thank you, Hotaru-chan, you have been most helpful. We'll finish up here, and then I will probably need your help to set things right in time for dinner. We had to move so much furniture to make room for everyone."
16th-Mar-2012 10:59 pm (UTC)
Hotaru bowed as respectfully as she could, feeling both relieved that it was over, and elated that they had felt her opinion was worth seeking. She practically ran back to her room. Wait until she told her mother this!
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