GEISHA LOOKING AT PHOTOGRAPHS (16) — Posthumously Awarded Full Membership in Flickr (TERUHA, the “NINE-FINGERED GEISHA”) by Okinawa Soba on Flickr.
(Sorry for the “ALL CAPS” portion below. Keyboard/Computer problem would not allow lower-case at the time I wrote this. And now…I don’t feel like re-typing it all !)
GEISHA NAMED TERUHA. BORN IN 1896, SHE WAS A “PROPERLY DEFLOWERED” GEISHA FROM THE AGE OF 13, AND WENT ON TO GREAT FAME, INFAMY, AND EVENTUAL RETIREMENT AS A BUDDHIST MONK — THE CHIEF PRIESTESS OF A TEMPLE IN KYOTO..
WHEN SHAVING OFF HER LUXURIOUS HAIR TO COMPLETE BALDNESS AS HER FAITH REQUIRED, SHE THOUGHT TO KEEP IT AS A SYMBOL AND REMINDER OF THE VANITY CONNECTED WITH THE OFTEN WILD LIFE SHE HAD LED WITH HER MANY AFFAIRS, AND SEVERAL LONELY, BROKEN MARRIAGES. SHE KEPT HER HAIR IN A BOX UNTIL SHE DIED, AND HAD IT BURIED ALONG WITH HER ASHES.
DURING HER LIFE, SHE AUTHORED SEVERAL BOOKS. IN HER YOUTHFUL DAYS - WHEN THE ABOVE PHOTOGRAPH WAS TAKEN — SHE WAS NICK-NAMED THE “NINE-FINGERED GEISHA” FOR ATTEMPTING TO CUT OFF HER LITTLE FINGER WHEN, AS A YOUNG TEENAGER, SHE WAS SMITTEN IN A PASSIONATE LOVE AFFAIR WITH ONE OF HER PATRONS. SHE DIED IN 1996, JUST BEFORE HER 100TH BIRTHDAY.
The above comments barely scratch the surface. For a little deeper scratch, here’s a great one page story with photos that show her over the years until near her death :
[NOTE: AFTER ALMOST A DECADE ON LINE, THIS LINK TO JIM GATLIN’S TRIBUTE TO TERUHA SITE WENT DEAD IN 2009. JIM HAD PASSED AWAY MANY YEARS AGO, AND APPARENTLY HIS FAMILY HAD BEEN KEEPING IT UP AND RUNNING. BUT, NO LONGER. I AM KEEPING THE LINK HERE AS AN EMPTY BOOKMARK. WHO KNOWS, SOMEONE MIGHT RESURRECT IT AGAIN, OR OKINAWA_SOBA WILL HAVE TO BUILD A NEW TERUHA SITE FROM SCRATCH]. www.geikogallery.bizland.com/Teruha1.htm
In the meantime, here is a partial restoration of the content : www.immortalgeisha.com/bio_past.php?id=14
Okinawa_Soba has about 50 pages of detailed history on her, including comments from Japanese who knew her over the years…..revealing the seldom-mentioned fact that she had a daughter.
I still get quite when I think about the time I was in Kyoto, only 10 minutes away from where she was alive and well, a few short years before her death. I had a good collection of her postcards, and figured she must have been someone special or important — but had falsely assumed she had passed away.
If I had only known she was right down the road, I could have visited her, and seen her own postcard collection of herself (!) which she kept until she died. We could have talked, and I could have asked her a million questions about all of these old photos, and her life. She would have been happy to have entertained me. She was that kind of kind woman, who had no qualms about reminiscing.
BUT….I did not even know she was there until she had passed away. Finding out that I had been so close, was, for a long moment, an almost unbearable burden.
Another Geisha who also became a nun has a more tragic story, and lost much more than her finger at the hands of an insane man : flickr.com/photos/ionushi/1568521865/ (Why is it always men who do these things?)
[From a OKINAWA SOBA flickr set of 19 Meiji-era Photographs (and a few from the Taisho era) depicting real Geisha Girls looking at old Photograph albums, images, and stereoviews. Posted in response to flickr member SignFire who said we should sign these girls up for a flickr account. Apparently, these girls don’t have computers where they are, so we’ll have to make do with posthumously awarding these PHOTO-LOVING GEISHA with an honorary membership in flickr.] Photographer Unknown.