Summer 2021. Sadly, the pandemic continues. Following precautions, maiko wear masks. And some people wear “maiko masks.” Today we learn about summer greetings in the hanamachi and mask advisories in Japan.
How did maiko perform summer greetings in 2021？
On August 1, Kyoto’s hanamachi celebrate Hassaku八朔. Geiko and maiko visit their arts teachers to pay their respects. They also call at the teahouses in their district to thank them for their patronage. Hassaku originated in farming communities. Farmers performed rituals on the first day of the 8th lunar month in hopes of an abundant harvest.
This August, Kyoto Shimbun featured this photograph of geiko and maiko wearing masks during their greetings. Also, they had to take care in the scorching heat. Kyoto Shimbun reports that some in the hanamachi called for suspending the ritual this year. Those participating wore lighter summer kimono instead of the formal black kuromontsuki. They also made their rounds in small groups this year.
Since 2020, videos of masked maiko in dance practice have also popped up on YouTube.
Add a touch of maiko fun to masking
We also find examples of “maiko masks” and mask cases. Creema offers this pink, maiko-laden mask. I found maiko masks sold on several other sites, too.
The Kyoto textile firm Eirakuya produced a mask case featuring a maiko walking among the torii at Fushimi Inari Shrine.
When not to wear a mask: Heat Advisories
This heat advisory posted in Amagasaki City in Hyogo Prefecture warns residents to avoid heat stroke.
Outside and safely distanced, it’s better to take off your mask in the summer heat.
The fun of teacher-student greetings in August
Thinking about Hassaku greetings in the hanamachi reminds me of greeting teachers in the U.S. As a graduate student at UCLA, I loved visiting my professors in August, excited to tell them about my summer research in Japan. I appreciate their encouragement all the more now. Later, as a professor myself, I enjoyed meeting my students and hearing about their summer adventures. Trips abroad, summer camp counseling, internships–so many experiences they’d had.
I do look forward to the return of easier face-to-face communication.
I am vaccinated and I do wear my mask in public places.
Jan Bardsley, “Mask up like a maiko,”janbardsley.web.unc.edu, August 10, 2021.