“Do Not Show but Let See”: Resilience in the Kyoto Hanamachi and Maiko and Geiko Communities

Conference: The Kyoto Conference on Arts, Media & Culture (KAMC2022)
Title: “Do Not Show but Let See”: Resilience in the Kyoto Hanamachi and Maiko and Geiko Communities
Stream: Performing Arts Practices: Theater, Dance, Music
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Lucile Druet, Kansai Gaidai University, Japan


The Covid-19 pandemic and its restrictions forced the Hanamachi to halt ozashiki (banquets) and odori (dances) and revealed a “double” crisis. Touching the artistic performance and hospitality sides of the Hanamachi, they in fact accelerated the weakening of an increasingly fragile world, with less women interested in starting or even continuing a career in this industry. Studying the Maiko and Geiko communities is therefore a study of survival strategy as they struggle to maintain their art. But the crisis caused an eloquent resilient reaction in the Hanamachi with some using the media and reaching out to their audience more directly, holding crowdfunding campaigns or public events online, bypassing the legendary "ichiken-san okotowari" rule (no newcomers without a proper introduction). This presentation focuses on these emergency activities, analyzing the data collected during first-hand experiences and interviews with the artists themselves. It also analyzes the gathered material through the lens of resilience (as conceptualized by Werner (1992), Cyrulnik (1999) and discussed by Butler (2016)), to effectively discuss the position of Maiko and Geiko in 2022. In so doing, the very implications of “resilience” are explored. Following Foreman (2008) and Bardsley (2021), this presentation aims at engaging new discourses on the Hanamachi voices, how they can be mediated without perpetuating the somewhat paternalist tropes that exist about the “iconic” Maiko and Geiko and without compromising the Hanamachi world, where the maxim of traditional Japanese performance "do not show but let see" remains. 

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