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Sakuragawa: A geisha and maiko RPG
Tsuda Saori, Hinako, and Hachimitsu with Yuna at Murasaki no Tsuki 
24th-Mar-2012 12:41 am
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A few nights after Hachmitsu’s arrival in Sakuragawa, a black, dark-windowed car pulled up in front of the Murasaki no Tsuki. The suit-clad driver hopped out and opened the rear passenger door, bowing energetically as the woman inside stepped out. She was tall by Japanese standards, and slender, wearing a trendy suit and with her hair dyed a stylish shade of light brown. Several loitering tourists scurried towards her, cameras raised in the hopes of catching a glimpse of some famous starlet or up-and-coming singer, but her sharp glares send them rushing away picture-less. Misaki opened the door to the restaurant and the woman stepped inside. The young hostess shut the door behind her, blocking her from the view of the outside world.

“Ah, Yamashita-san,” Keiksuke said, coming around from behind the bar to greet her. They bowed to each other, and he led her to a corner seat at the bar. “I presume you want a Sparkling Summer to start your night, as usual?”

“Of course,” Yamashita Yuna replied. The Sparkling Summer was a drink Keisuke had created and named for her as partial thanks for her financial support when he was building the Murasaki no Tsuki. She wasn’t entirely sure what was in it, but she thought it was delicious.

Yuna settled onto her bar stool, crossing her long legs and peering around the restaurant as Keisuke worked. “You only invited geiko as I requested, correct?”

He grinned. “Of course. I know your preferences by now. I invited Hinako from Hoshino, the independent Ishida woman, and…an interesting new arrival named Hachimitsu.” He glanced up at her. “She’s from Tokyo too. You don’t know her from there, by any chance?”

Yuna sniffed. “You know I don’t frequent the ochaya of Tokyo. Kyoto and Sakuragawa are more to my taste.”

“Well, she seemed proper,” he said. “I thought it would be good to give her a try. If it doesn’t work, I have Harukawa on speed dial and an agreement that Yaekano will come quickly if we need her.”

“Good,” Yuna said. Keisukei finished the drink and set it in front of her.

“Can I get you something to snack on while you wait?” he asked her. “I know you don’t like to go up to the banquet until the geiko arrive and set up.”

She shook her head. “No…I’m sure you prepared me a lovely dinner and I don’t want to ruin my appetite for it. Please just let me know when they are ready for me.”
25th-Mar-2012 10:56 pm (UTC)

Kaori studied her reflection in the full-length mirror critically, smoothing her collar with practiced hands, making sure her katsura was not going to slip. The dresser she had hired had tied her obi too loose for her comfort, and was now fussing at it, pulling the thick and rigid material. “Mind the fabric!”, she criticized sharply. “This is a customized Kawashima obi!”

She ignored the man’s presumed apologies, and returned her attention to the mirror. She had chosen her kimono and accessories with utmost discretion, taking care with the smallest detail. She had spent the last few days practically living at the kenban and kaburenjo, learning the minute differences between Tokyo and Sakuragawa. The dances themselves weren’t too different (an extra head tilt here, a more pronounced gesture there), but as it was her first engagement in Sakuragawa, she wanted to be noticed, not because she was different, but because she was better.

The dresser finally tied the obi to her satisfaction, and she turned to examine the bow. Even in the standard (and unimaginative, Kaori thought) taiko bow, the obi was a show-stopper- her danna (ex-danna, she reminded herself) had commissioned a singularly gorgeous obi- a large bumblebee inside a simple rope circle. The yellow of the bee was embroidered in real gold thread, the black in a similarly metallic black, the details picked out in a vivid green. The circle embroidered in a vivid turquoise with a complementary orange, all on a pristine white background. It never failed to impress.

Her padded hikizuri was no less impressive (or expensive), an iridescent purple silk confection, woven with a kikkou design, embroidered with sprays of yellow and orange flowers. The floral theme was echoed in her vintage tortoiseshell comb, and a tiny kanzashi with a single bee completed her look.

She dismissed the dresser with a nod, turned to her right and collected her kago. It was quite full- lipstick, mirror, powder and puff, blotting tissues, her phone, credit cards, her business card case, two fans, a set of cups for kompira fune fune, a set of keys, and a neat little wallet with cash.
A knock came at the door, interrupting her. “Miss?” a female voice called. “Your taxi is ready!”

Without a word, she turned towards the door. The dresser, seeming to be in a hurry, left first, not waiting for her. Kaori pursed her lips at his discourteousness, vowing to hire a different dresser next time.

She locked her door behind her, descended the steps with practiced ease, exited the apartment building and entered the taxi. The driver barely had time to set the meter before Kaori said brusquely, “Murasaki no tsuki, and make it quick.”

The restaurant wasn’t far, and soon Kaori found herself once again in the lobby of the establishment. She went straight to the hostess. “I am here for the Yamashita banquet.”
27th-Mar-2012 12:07 am (UTC)
Misaki recognized her, and smiled a little as she bowed. "I remember you!" she chirped cheerfully. "My, what a lovely obi. Oh, right, this way please." Misaki gestured gracefully to a hidden staircase just inside the entryway, and led Hachimitsu upstairs. There was a sliding door at the top of the stairs which had been left ajar, and the sound of a shamisen already being tuned wafted down the hallway towards them.

Misaki pushed the door open the rest of the way, knelt in the hallway waiting for Hachimitsu to pass through, and then closed the door behind them before continuing down the hall. The quiet murmur coming from the restaurant disappeared as soon as Misaki closed the door. She rose to her feet and rushed ahead, beckoning for Hachimitsu to follow her. They passed a couple of dark, empty party rooms before reaching one that was dimly lit, with a table set for one patron and the windows overlooking the small garden already open. But they passed that room by too in favor of going to a smaller room just past it, where Hinako was already preparing.

Misaki paused in the doorway and knelt again, then bowed to Hinako. "Hinako-san, excuse me, one of the other geiko has arrived as well." She motioned for Hachimitsu to enter the small preparation area as well. "Please make yourself comfortable and complete any preparations you need to, Hachimitsu-san," she said. "Hinako-san knows how to let us know when you are all ready." And with that Misaki left to return to her hostess duties in the restaurant.
29th-Mar-2012 12:13 am (UTC)
Kaori scrutinized the other geisha. She was pretty enough, with long, slender limbs and an oval face that reminded her of ukiyo-e print of court ladies that hung in her mother's home. She seemed to be about Kaori's age.

Kaori swept into the small room, bowing perfunctorily. "I am Hachimitsu", she said in a neutral tone. "You are... ?"
31st-Mar-2012 12:48 am (UTC)
"Hinako." Her tone was far from neutral. She raked her eyes up and down Hachimitsu, taking in her outfit, and barely managing to hide her distaste. Clearly, she didn't take well to competition. Of ANY kind. "And what tiny unknown hanamachi have you appeared from, little bee?"
31st-Mar-2012 10:29 pm (UTC)
Kaori raised an eloquent eyebrow at Hinako's open hostility. The young woman was obviously threatened by her superior wardrobe and implied skill. “My, my, aren’t we ... temperamental.” She allowed a facsimile of a smile to twist her lips. “Your okaasan should be ashamed of your poor manners; surely, she taught you better.

As to where I’m from, I wouldn’t worry your pretty little head about it. It’s so exclusive you probably wouldn’t have heard of it.”
4th-Apr-2012 12:40 am (UTC)
"We Hoshino women are the jewels of Sakuragawa, but you'll see that soon enough, I'm sure." Hinako smirked and gave the peg on her shamisen a final firm adjustment. "Ah, exclusive, was it? What a pity for you that you are no longer there..."

If she had been planning to say more, she didn't get the chance due to Yaekano scurrying in. Apparently Keisuke had panicked a little when the independent Ishida geiko didn't arrive on time, and he had decided to go ahead and call Yaekano in early. She too carried a shamisen, and bowed quickly to Hachimitsu and Hinako as she arrived. "Goodness, Misaki-chan mentioned a new person but she didn't say anything else! How exciting! I do wish she had mentioned you were wearing purple though, I would have asked okaasan if I could wear something else!" Yaekano too was wearing purple, though hers was a slightly darker shade and featured an elegant river boat motif, paired with a creamy white obi featuring abstract butterflies worked in a silvery-grey and pale shades of pink and yellow. Hinako, the only one not wearing purple, was instead dressed in mint green, the hem of her kimono dusted with delicate pink and white cherry blossom petals. Kogiku had given in and allowed her to wear her favorite white and rose pink hakata obi for the evening.
5th-Apr-2012 12:12 am (UTC)
Kaori was too well-schooled to gape in indignation, but at seeing Kaekano, and her ensemble, her spine went rigid, and she drew herself up to her full height. "Indeed," she replied icily, her eyes narrowed, "such foresight will serve you better in the future."
9th-Apr-2012 05:05 am (UTC)
Yaekano just kind of STARED at her for a second, mouth open in a little O of astonishment. Hinako snorted. "Yaekano-san-neesan," she said in a voice so sicky-sweet it couldn't be anything but fake, "our new sister is Hachimitsu-san. She comes to us from an amazingly exclusive hanamachi none of us have ever heard of before! Aren't we lucky to have her here in Sakuragawa to share her talents?"

"Quite lucky," Yaekano replied, though from her tone she was mostly confused and didn't know what to make of the situation. She glanced out into the hallways she had just come from, then took a few more steps in to tune her own shamisen. "I think I just heard Misaki-chan bringing Yamashita-san upstairs," she explained. "It's a shame, there are no jikata geiko here tonight...well, we'll just have to take turns playing for each other then. Have you brought a shamisen, Hachimitsu-san-neesan?"
11th-Apr-2012 04:09 am (UTC)
Kaori felt slightly uncomfortable at her behavior towards Yaekano; after all, the woman hadn't directed any hostility towards her the way Hinako had. Yaekano had seemed nice enough, and perhaps needed an ally here in Sakuragawa, especially if Hinako was representative of the girls of Sakuragawa in general.

She turned her back on Hinako, and bowed to Yaekano. "My apologies," she demurred. "I am afraid I have my nerves get the best of me. I have only just arrived in the city and this is my first engagement.

I do not have a shamisen, I am a tachikata."
16th-Apr-2012 05:39 am (UTC)
Yaekano bowed and accepted the apology graciously, but decided that it was best to be wary of Hachimitsu. After all, the woman's reaction had been totally uncalled for, and while Yaekano and the others in the district put up with that kind of behavior from Hinako, well...Hinako was one of theirs. She didn't know a thing about the new girl.

"Yes, we are too," she said, "but here in Sakuragawa we all learn instruments too, and sometimes we have to play them. I think this is going to be one of those times, unfortunately..."

She made quick work of tuning her shamisen, then turned and headed for the party room. Their customer was waiting patiently for them, now sipping a small glass of fine beer while she admired the view from the window. But she smiled when Yaekano bowed to her from the doorway. "Oh, good, you're here," Yuna said to her. "I feel like I haven't seen you in ages."
18th-Apr-2012 02:36 am (UTC)
Kaori almost asked if the reason they all had to learn instruments was because there were so few geisha in the district, but she clamped her mouth shut on the thought. Instead, she followed Yaekano to the party room, and stopped dead in the door when she saw their customer, and apparently their only customer this evening, was a woman. Back in Tokyo, she absolutely refused to perform for women as she firmly believed the floating world of the pleasure quarters should be reserved for the entertainment and catering to of men. Women should never be allowed to patronize the flower and willow world.

Conflicted as she was, Kaori could not leave the engagement. To do so would be a breach of contract and no one in Sakuragawa would ever hire her again. Kaori closed her eyes and took a breath. She was a professional, she reminded herself. She would do the job she was paid to do.

She entered the room and knelt gracefully. "Good evening, how are you?"
24th-Apr-2012 05:06 am (UTC)
"Fine, fine," Yuna replied, not quite looking up at Hachimitsu at first. Her attention was on Yaekano, who was already getting ready to refill her drink. Hinako, meanwhile busied herself with setting up their performance area.

With her drink freshly filled, Yuna continued, "It's so nice to be back here. I can't even tell you how old Tokyo gets after a while...always the same old thing, all the time. At least you women are interesting to talk to." She laughed and Yaekano and Hinako laughed with her.

"Oh Yuna-nee-san," Hinako said, "do you ever visit any other districts? I hear there are some very exclusive ones outside of Sakuragawa." She finally took a place at the table and nodded to Hachimitsu. "We have a new sister here from one of those districts!" She turned a cold smile to Hachimitsu and added, "Why don't you introduce yourself, nee-san?"
30th-Apr-2012 12:51 am (UTC)
Kaori bowed smoothly. "I am Hachimitsu. I am newly arrived in the city." She rose and made her way to the end of the room where tatami gave way to the dancing area. "But this is not the time to talk about me; our guest came to be entertained by the traditional arts." She addressed Yuna directly, "What dance would you like me to perform, Madame?"
11th-May-2012 05:48 am (UTC)
Yuna drummed her fingers on the table, then smirked. Her dark eyes sparkled as she regarded the three women who had come to entertain her. "Kurokami," she finally said. "With...Hinako. Her Kurokami is quite impressive, you know, and I want to see who does it better."

Yaekano seemed more than a little nervous about that, but she gamely picked up her shamisen and adjusted the tuning appropriately. Hinako claimed one half of the stage for herself and waited for Hachimitsu. "Whenever you're ready," she said to Hachimitsu.
8th-Jun-2012 12:11 am (UTC)
Koari smiled smugly to herself. Her kurokami had earned her praise and acclaim back in Tokyo, she even continued to practice the dance even after her sakkou period, simply because she liked the dance. She had no doubt that she would outperform Hinako.

She assumed the right side of the stage, the side of honor, and quickly sank to the floor, spreading out the padded hem of her kimono behind her. Hinako seemed a little flustered by her assumption that she, the new arrival, would have the temerity to claim the senior position. But Koari pushed the feeling of tart pleasure aside, she had an audience to entertain, and all her focus was now on the dance.
12th-Jun-2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
If Hinako only seemed a little flustered, it was because she was absolutely smoldering with fury on the inside. 'Where does this new little brat get off thinking SHE deserves the place of honor?' she thought to herself. But once the thought was past she quickly schooled her face into the proper expression for the dance and took her place on the left side of the stage. She exchanged a quick glance with Yaekano, whose perfectly-pained eyebrows had shot up so far they threatened to disappear into the hairline of her wig. But she too quickly regained her composure and, with a curt and almost imperceptible nod to the two dancers, she began to play.

Meanwhile, Yuna watched the whole thing with the cool, almost bored-looking attitude of someone who had been forced to judge something she didn't particularly like. It wasn't true, of course -- Yuna enjoyed the traditional arts (why else would she be here?) and appreciated the company of geiko. But she couldn't help but notice the subtle attitude contest going on between the new arrival and the two local women. She quietly sipped at her drink and watched them dance, silently ticking off points in her head to bolster her assessment.
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