A Japanese Lesson of My Geisha vs. Oiran Thoughts

Hi hi friends! It’s FRIDAY and snowing here in DC.  😔 😥 Dear Spring … please hurry!  😭😭🙏 This morning, I’m just sitting up studying Japanese at the moment and wanted to share something I found interesting about Americans not knowing the difference between geisha and oiran ~ Recently, I came across this article via NHK about Reibi Takahashi, a maiko and soon to be full-fledged teenage geisha once she makes her debut in March. I recalled my childhood dreams of becoming Gion’s first black geisha. 😀

I gave up on that dream before it even started because … choose your battles wisely, right?! ^^

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image compliments of Little Miss Paintbrush for Japan Lover Me

There are very distinct differences between maiko (舞子 →まいこ), geisha (芸者 →げいしゃ), and oiran (花魁 →おいらん → Japanese courtesan) that I hope to outline for you soon. However after tattooing there and getting better acquainted with the culture (check out #dctojapan) I realised that we have it ALL mixed up and misunderstood. SO much so that I wonder if Americans even know the difference between them. So, I shared my thoughts in Japanese. Below are my thoughts composed of simple sentences and originally shared via my Japanese page (where I stash things I am interested in learning more about). I shared them in class recently and we corrected my grammar. I am proud to say that I didn’t do too bad! <3 Check it out and let me know if you share the same sentiments!

Thoughtsin Translation

Same deal as January’s lesson, for complete translation (and an easier read) of the email in English, please kindly follow the bold text. The original text is in pink with corrections to my Japanese bolded in grey. Hiragana is in italics for easier understanding (Kanji is HARD! >.<) and of course, romanji is available for reading/ comprehension help. Happy learning minna-san~

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面白いよ おもしろい よ omoshiroi yo this is interesting!

今、ダメじゃないの? いま、だめじゃないの? ima, dame janai no? but isn’t that bad now?

子供のとき、最初黒人芸者になりたかった こどものとき、はつのくろひとげいしゃになりたかった kodomo no toki, hatsu no kuro hito ni nari takatta when I was little, I wanted to become the first black geisha

芸者はめっちゃめっちゃ綺麗な〜 げいしゃはめっちゃめっちゃきれいな〜 geisha wa mecha mecha kirei na ~ geisha are extremely beautiful ~ 

だけど、アメリカ人はいつも芸者と花魁は同じだとってる だけど、アメリカじんはいつもげいしゃとおいらんはおなじだともってる。 dake do, amerika jin wa itsumo geisha to oiran ha onaji da to omotteiru but I think Ameircan people always see courtesan and geisha the same.

こっちでは、花魁の文化はアメリカ人が知らについて全然知らなくてぜんぶ、芸者や花魁の文化全部、危なくてダメとうでしょうってる・・・ kocchi de wa, oiran nitsuite zenzen shiranakute, giesha ya oiran wa zenbu, abunakute dame da to omotteiru … As far as over here, we do not know anything about courtesan and as far as geisha and courtesan, it’s all bad and dangerous, I think …

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I hope this short share was helpful in some way if you’re learning or considering learning Japanese. Please now that I am always open to making friends, chat buddies, and learning companions. So please feel free to reach out any time! ^^ As I pick up the blogging pace here, I will try to share more. But for now, I will do my very best to share my learning at least once a month! I’ll have an update soon about my JLPT N4 results soon so please stay tuned. <3

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