To recap, I have been researching an alternate mon (crest) which is used by the Tama okiya (geisha house) of Gion Kobu, which is known as the “Kikyo Knot” 結び桔梗, seen here:
It is the crest of an okiya which apparently closed sometime during the 1980s, and items with this mon have been occasionally used by the Tama okiya for their maiko. Thanks once again to Jaki-san, I have another picture of this being worn….except this time, it’s not by a Tama maiko, but rather, one from Nishimura! O.o
Instead, we can see that this mon was worn by former maiko Keiko (圭衣子) of Nishimura yakata (西村). Sadly, she ran away from her okiya on January 31, 2011…although rumor also has it that there were underlying factors and problems, which I won’t get into here. Suffice to say, she is no longer a maiko, and there have been no other sightings of this mon being worn by other members of her okiya. You can see a close-up of her wearing a ro kuromontsuki (formal black summer kimono) on Hassaku, August 1, 2010 here.
You can her outfit below. Original source is here. (She is the 1st and 5th picture down.)
As you can see, she is wearing her okiya’s mon on her obi (three oak leaves in a circle), but her kimono has the kikyou knot mon! There were two other maiko in her okiya that year, Sakiko and Chisako, but from other Hassaku pictures from that same year, you can tell that both are only wearing the oak mon.
Hassaku is known for being a day when Tama okiya uses older kimono with mon which do not match their official crest (a Paulownia). You can read about a rather famous series of geiko hikizuri with a closed-fan mon that Tama uses on Hassaku here. Until now, Tama was the only okiya which was documented to have their girls wear alternate crests on Hassaku, as well as being the only okiya which used the kikyou knot mon. Now, it seems that not only does Nishimura do it, but that they use the same mon that Tama sometimes does! As far as I know, there is no connection between Tama and Nishimura. The only explanation that I can think of is that there is a shortage of ro kuromontsuki kimono (which are only worn once a year on August 1st, and therefore one of the rarest kinds of kimono), and since Nishimura had three maiko in 2010, they might not have had enough for all of their girls to wear, and they had to borrow a kimono from Tama? Perhaps there is an exchange system between okiya which allows them to borrow from each other if they run out of an item?
The only problem is that there are no other pictures of anyone wearing this particular kimono besides Keiko in 2010. Why Tama uses this mon so often when it is not their own is still a mystery, as is the name of the okiya which originally used this mon. So far, we have sightings of it from the 1970s to 2010…and with each new photo, even more questions arise! The mystery continues!