A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
Hello Leideners, it’s been a while since I last posted something – have been really busy with my thesis and exams. Just last evening however, I was clearing my drawers and found my camera lying underneath a huge pile of papers. Flicking through it I realized I hadn’t transferred pictures from 3 months – blog material – yeah! Okay, so the first set of pictures were from my trip to the Volkenkunde museum here in Leiden. Even though the museum is at a 2 minute walk from my room I consider the visit an achievment. That is because since I arrived in 2013 I had been planning to go there on a Saturday – you know after a week full of work – but I never got around to doing it until boxing day past year. And even that was an accident – for one I thought everything would be shut over Christmas – at least museums and public offices. But I saw a few people walking in the museum compound and since I had no other plans that day just went ahead.
The museum was indeed open and had many impressive exhibitions on. In particular since October 2014 they have had a GEISHA gallery on display. I had only heard of the name and had a vague image of Japanese courtesans but it seems there is more to their personality. Geisha are basically entertainers – trained female entertainers – for men :).
They live in special houses where they perform(sing and dance), play games, cook and hold conversations for male guests. And there is a proper ettiquete to all of this –such as the famous Geisha dress, hairstyle and also conduct.
Geisha have also been featured in cinema although the downside of that is the fuelling of misconceptions about the whole society and concept. Many Geisha are actually treated as celebrities and there is a section in the gallery with photographs of some of the most famous ones. In that same section you can watch videos of how they go about entertaining their guests inside a setup resembling a real Geisha house.
So it seems they command respect for their skills and services – at least that’s the impression I got from the exhbition. I guess I’ll have to visit Japan to find out for myself – a future blog perhaps. But the exhibition is on till April this year so do pay it a visit – the museum is free for Leiden students so make the most of your LU card while you can!