Conclusion: The Ordinary Girl in the Maiko Masquerade

Ichimame’s maiko look for a daytime outing. Artist Katsuyama Keiko.  Maiko no osahō [Maiko etiquette] by Kamishichiken Ichimame. Copyright © 2007. Courtesy of Daiwa Shobō.

Chapter scope: This short chapter concludes Maiko Masquerade with a fresh perspective. Rather than examining the masquerade, we explore representations of the “ordinary girl”—and one “ordinary boy”—who perform the masquerade. What do these representations say about girlhood in Japan, gender performance, and concepts of ethnic and national identity?  We consider how women, as authors on the hanamachi and teahouse clients, change its atmosphere, and compare Kyoto’s geiko to media representations of elite career women.

Wrap-up Reading Questions:
Summarize the book’s main argument and approach.
What were your expectations for this book before you read it?
What did you learn from Maiko Masquerade?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of Maiko Masquerade?
How did the book connect to the themes of your class?

Discussion Activity: The Dynamic of Masquerade
In class discussion, students identify various public roles that link with certain kinds of dress and behaviors. Examples can range from royalty to beauty queens, service sector roles, sports figures to online influencers.
Students divide into groups, each group taking one figure to discuss. Each group lists the traits—dress, behavior, persona—commonly associated with the figure.
Consider how these may be linked to expectations about gender, ethnicity, age, background. Imagine what may happen if the individual veers from these expectations. Would that cause humor, outrage, suspicion, delight? When would failing the masquerade delight, when would it disappoint?
Groups report back to the class. Consider pros & cons of workplace masquerades.

Writing Exercise
Book review: 
Write a short review of the book (150-200 words) describing what the book is about and your own reactions as a reader.