GEISHA INSTITUTION. AN EXAMPLE OF ADAPTATION OF TRADITION IN THE JAPANESE SOCIETY
In Japan, tradition is constantly interspersed with modernity. Despite the fact that in the past this country evolved into an economic power, the traditional culture is still cultivated. The Japanese tradition of today is a mixture of samurai and bourgeois tradition (which derives from the chonin movement). Despite its origins in the past ages, the tradition as it is today has mostly been shaped by the transformations in Japan in the 19th century. Changes related to the overthrow of Tokugawa shogunate and modernization of the country have led to the elimination of the gentry and bourgeois culture movement. As a result geisha was recognized as a traditional profession, and the earlier symbol of progress and modernity has become a peculiar guardian of everything traditional in Japan. Contemporary Japanese, when asked about the future of the geisha institution, unanimously underline her role in handing down the tradition. Yet, her existence depends much on how carefully the old arts are preserved. After all, to the foreigners a geisha is one of the symbols of Japan, next to the samurai, the Fuji Mountain or a blossom cherry. Without any doubt, she is Japan's valuable treasure. Today geisha and kaikomochi form, and in fact are, the only social groups that are linked to the traditional culture and that understand its meaning. A range of their skills includes a Japanese dance, kimono, playing instruments (shamisen, tsuzumi, shakuhachi) and the art of singing. Today geisha is a part of the traditional culture. Most of my respondents felt that geiko is the living relic of Japanese culture and therefore her disappearance is associated with partial or even ultimate death of the tradition in Japan.
CEJSH db identifier