Mystery Mon…Kind of Solved?

So, remember how I couldn’t find another picture of the mon that’s on my darari obi, no matter where I looked? Turns out, I was looking in the wrong place the entire time.

I assumed that since the okiya which used this mon is no longer active in Gion, and that since the only picture that had the same mon was from the 70s, that I should be searching the vintage photographs of maiko to try and see if I could spot it. Well….

I should have tried looking at pictures of earlier this year ^^;

The above is a screenshot of this movie on youtube. (Please watch it in full screen with 1080p HD to see the mon clearly) The date? February 10, 2010.

The maiko on the left is Mameharu (まめ春) , of the Tama okiya in Gion Kobu. She’s dancing the Gion Kouta at the Gion Corner theater with maiko Mametomi (豆十三) of the Arai okiya. Now, the funny thing is that Mameharu’s obi is almost the same as my own. The stripe color is reversed, with the mon on white instead of orange, and the motif is different. (Hers has a bobbin motif, while mine has flowers). Otherwise though, they’re the same. How odd is it that there is an almost-twin of my obi with the same mon?

Here’s the problem though…a maiko’s darari obi has the mon of their okiya on it. As mentioned before, Mameharu is from the Tama okiya…whose mon looks like this:

Which is very different from the one on both mine and Mameharu’s obi:

Now the real question is this: why is Mameharu wearing a mon which is not her okiya’s? Does the Tama okiya own this mon as well? If so, why do they own it, and why is Mameharu wearing it for this one dance and not others?

There is another known instance in which Tama has had their girls wearing another crest. IG member Golden_Phoenix has one of several hikizuri which different Tama geiko have worn for Hassaku the past several years, which features a closed-fan mon. You can read about her experience here. Recently, a photo has been discovered of one of the hiki that points to it being worn around 1960. The book which has the photo of my mon is from 1974. The Tama okiya wasn’t founded until the 1980s, so she believes it likely that Tama absorbed one (or more, as the mon seem to indicate) okiya which had shut down and used their hikizuri and obi.

So…it appears that the Tama okiya likes collecting mon? Haha. Although it seems we have a likely origin for these mon, we can’t be 100% sure of how Tama came into possession of them or even more interestingly, why they still continue to be used. Also, the names of the different okiya which owned these mon are still unknown. The mystery continues!

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4 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael Spinelli says:

    I know this is old but I just wanted to chime in. I feel like a lot of the okiya in Miyagawacho seem to be using obi with a different symbol than the traditional one (speaking of Mamehu’s obi). I met Geiko Kofuku and two Maikos from Shigemori, and they were definitely using a different symbol on their obi. Maybe the tradition is changing?

    1. Perhaps! It’s still rare enough to garner comment, but you’re right, it seems that it is happening more often now. I really wish I knew the reason.

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