Sinikka's snippets

Finland and travelling, a woman's life, cultures, languages, photography plus family recipes

Painted faces

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I haven’t been very much into portraits or people photography in general. I’m more at home roaming the woods, snapping pictures of nature. That’s why, this week’s photo challenge – Face – has been slightly troublesome for me.

In the end, I chose this photo from an annual Hanami festival, organised in a park full of cherry trees in Helsinki last weekend. As last year, I tried to capture some of the Japan-inspired costumes and characters around the park. Surprisingly many young Finns are great fans of Japanese anime, and enjoy dressing up as their favourite characters. This ‘geisha’ caught my eye from afar, but on closer look, turned out to be possibly a ‘taikomochi’, a male geisha. Some online searching revealed that the original ‘geisha’-style entertainers, back in the 13th century, were, in fact, all male. The ‘taikomochi’ have since become rarer and rarer, and today, there are only very few left in Japan, the field having become almost exclusively female.

I have always been fascinated by the Japanese culture, finding it inscrutably irresistible. For example, Japanese facial expressions are impossible for me to interpret as their real feelings seem to be hidden underneath a mask, dictated by cultural norms and unspoken rules. Even more mysterious, are the striking, white-painted faces of the geishas. Here is another picture, taken during our family trip to Japan in 2004 – a geisha spotted in a Kyoto night, white face shining in the darkness.

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Author: sinikka

From Finland to the world, I teach English and French and try to be a model of a lifelong learner to my students, I love nature and photography, and enjoy travelling

4 thoughts on “Painted faces

  1. I actually never knew that there were such thing as male geishas haha! Thats also an interesting shot of the portrait.

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  2. Wow – that is really out there!

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    • Makes me think of the Austrian Eurovision Song Contest winner from two years ago, Conchita Wurst. I think he/she has done a lot for other “bearded ladies” to dare to come out. Then again, I don’t really know the Japanese anime characters, this might be one of them. There is a lot of cross-dressing in the anime scene.

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