Finding Katsuyoshi

Over the past few months, I’ve been researching the maiko who wore my blue mountain hikizuri, pictured below:

Her name was Katsuyoshi (佳つ好), of Gion Kobu. So far, I have been able to determine that she was a maiko during the 1980s-early 1990s. It’s been kind of hard to find anything about her, as she only appears officially in one Miyako Odori program: the 1990 one that may have well been her last year as a maiko.

Here she is appearing in Jaki-san‘s scan of the 1987 edition of Bacchus magazine, wearing my hikizuri. (To the right in the second row.) Note that she is wearing tsunagi-dango kanzashi on the left side: this is a link of green beads arranged in a circle which identifies her as a maiko of Gion kobu who is under the age of 18. She is wearing senior hana-kanzashi on the right, but her haneri collar still has spots of red in it instead of being pure white. From this, we can conclude that she is a younger senior maiko, possibly just changing over from a junior maiko status.

According to IG member Franzeska, the text below her reads:

地元のう どん屋 [浜松屋] の娘。
The daughter of a local udon shop, Hamamatsu-ya.

小さいときから舞妓を目のあたりにしていたので, ごく自然に甲部へ。
Having wanted to be a maiko ever since she was little, naturally, she went to Kobe. (Translator’s note: Gion Kobu, pronounced as the surname “Koube” in this context)

A round little beauty.

I like that little bit of background this paragraph gives us. I can just imagine a little local girl growing up in her father’s noodle shop and seeing the graceful maiko-san and wanting to be like them when she grew up. It’s nice to know that she was able to fulfill her dreams. 🙂 Perhaps this is a bit of a romanticist view of it…but I think it’s nice.

I’ve also been able to find her in the 1990 Miyako Odori program, where she was one of the featured dancers:

I was also able to find a video on youtube of that year’s odori. You can recognize Katsuyoshi because she is wearing the same hikizuri in this photo: Youtube Video. (The Odori starts at 12:53, while Katsuyoshi makes an appearance at 19:26-19:51, 20:54-21:37, and 22:17-22:52)

What’s really interesting is that you can see in this screenshot that she is now wearing the ofuku hairstyle, which is worn by senior maiko. You can also get a glimpse of the mon on her obi, although the poor quality of the video makes it really hard to identify. You can also see her mon below in the official Odori photograph taken for the program. I have not been able to positively identify which mon it is yet, as I have no clear image of it:

From the inclusion of her photograph in the program with the geiko, it seems that she is a very senior maiko. Perhaps she is just about to become a geiko. However, Katsuyoshi does not appear in the 1992 Miyako Odori program, so we know that she quit between 1990 and 1992. Until the 1991 program is scanned, however, we cannot know if she actually became a geiko, or if she quit before having her erikae (The ceremony where a maiko “turns her collar” and becomes a full-fledged geiko).

Below I have two other possible sightings of Katsuyoshi. However, since these are based off of my own recognition of her facial patterns, and I make no claims to being an expert at distinguishing faces, I am not 100% sure that they are her. However, they certainly look a lot like Katsuyoshi. Unfortunately, most of the 1980s odori programs, which I am using as my main source of identification since they list maiko’s names, have not been scanned. So, I will not be able to positively identify these photos until such a time as they are made available on the net. 🙂

Here we have the 1988 Miyako Odori, in a scan taken from a slide made by Flickr member Ganjin. She is the middle maiko, third from both the right and the left. (Please click the link and view it in “original” size on flickr to see a close-up.) I base this identification on several facial markers of hers I have found, including the shape of her hair wings, her style of drawing her eyebrows, the lines of her nose, as well as that particular head-tilt that I have seen in almost every photo of her. I am fairly confident that it is her due to these factors, but again…I am not 100% certain.

Maiko Spring Dance (1) Miyako Odori

The last photo I have is the one with the least amount of evidence behind it being her….but I cannot shake the feeling that this is Katsuyoshi. It is a page in the 1982 Miyako Odori featuring the younger children who took a part in the dances. According to Flickr member arumukos, during these years there weren’t enough maiko for the Miyako Odori, so amateur dancers were impressed by Inoue Yachiyo and Gion Koubu Kabukai. That means that these girls are the pupils of Inoue Yachiyo, the founder of the Inoue-School of Kyomai, which is the specific school of dance that Gion maiko and geiko use. The farthest girl to the right on the top row has that same head-tilt and facial features of Katsuyoshi-san.

In this program, the girl’s name is given as “Misago”. She looks so much like her, but again, I have no proof besides my own conclusions. Perhaps if the 1980s programs get scanned, I can see what year exactly Katusyoshi became a maiko, and see if this girl fits the timeline. Maiko generally train for 3-5 years before becoming a geiko, and since we know Katsuyoshi was a young senior maiko in 1987, it is not outside the realm of possibility for her to have become a maiko between 1983-85. If Katsuyoshi was under (or just about to turn) 18 in 1987, and this was her, that would make “Misago” around 12 or 13 years old. She looks older in this photo, but comparing her to the girls she danced with, it seems like she might just look old for her age?

In any case, the hunt for Katsuyoshi is still on, although I am glad to have been able to find out as much as I have about her. I’m still trying to identify which okiya she belonged to, as that would greatly help my search, and might possibly turn up more photos of my hikizuri being worn by other maiko. It is also my hope to one day be able to have a timeline for her, hopefully with pictures of her throughout her maiko (and possibly short-lived geiko) career.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. ohiokimono says:

    This is all kinds of epic cool – Im so drawn to my own hiki and wonder its past. I also wonder about my authentic geiko katsura…..

    Im totally jealous of your ability to find this info 🙂

    1. Thanks ^^ I just love researching the maiko who have worn my two hiki…it makes it more personal to find out their history! I am very lucky to have been able to find pictures of them being worn. Of course, if I were to purchase another, it would probably drive me crazy if I couldn’t find anything on it haha. But keep looking! It took me 300+ pages of flickr searching to find pictures for both my hiki. The key word is perseverance! (or stubborness haha)

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