Geisha

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One Fond *Yosuru

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I confess, I’ve been wanting to do a Geisha for a long time. So when this girl arrived, and her name was Blossom, which is kind of Geisha-ish, and she didn’t mind removing her wig – as long as I sent it along with her (which I will) – then she was absolutely game… 

Thus begins the description for O.L.D. (Once-Loved Doll) No. 111, Blossom the Geisha. You can see her adoption page HERE.

I’ve had an affinity for all things Japanese since childhood. Growing up in Hawaii, there’s a huge oriental influence. Talking with my Mom last night, here are two stories in particular. They were such a part of our family history that Julie’s the one that mentioned them to me when I told her my next O.LD.’s theme – and she wasn’t even born when they occurred!

Left to Right, Dad, Kenny, Mom, Dennis, January, Me, and Carol.

They happened 50 odd years ago. We lived on the less inhabited north shore of Oahu, which back then was rather primitive. My parents had learned of a professional photographer who lived on our side of the island. Most things were in Honolulu, and it was hard to get all the way there for a more formal photo and still keep five kids looking fresh, what with the heat and winding roads and frequent barfing that would take place en route.

It looked a lot like this.

So my parents marked this much closer find on a trusty map, dressed us all in our Sunday best, and off we went.

“We kept driving and driving, farther into the jungle and I wondered, ‘How on earth can there be anything out here?'” my mother recounted. “Finally we came to this little shack in the middle of nowhere…”

The Foundling.

The photographer, a tiny man of Japanese descent, “didn’t even pose us, and I think he only took one shot. When we finally got the photo weeks later, he proudly announced that Kenny, currently the youngest, had his eyes closed, but not to worry! He, the photographer, had painted them in…”

Thus this picture became not only a piece of glossy card stock, one of many photographs dotting our scrapbooks over the years, but a memory that gave us laughs back then and still does to this day.

The family, sans their kids. They spoke little English, and we no Japanese, but somehow we communicated very well.

Another very strong memory from our childhood is when we sponsored a family from Japan. I remember them very well, and in talking to my mom was surprised to hear that they only came to our house two times for dinner on two separate visits from Japan with the meals very far apart, because they made such a very strong and warm impression on me. They were so kind and generous and I felt such an affinity for them and from them.

It was a doll similar to this. She made the clothes for her herself!

They wanted to experience an American meal, so my mother and Auntie Anne, who was also living in Hawaii at that time, set out to make the most American meal possible, which of course included Jello. Jello was hard to make in Hawaii, as it was “so darn hot” that it wouldn’t properly set.

They put out silverware, but the children from the family weren’t able to eat with forks and spoons. So my mother found some chopsticks, and they ate everything, including the unstable Jello, with ease.

We exchanged Christmas cards with this family for years to come, and the wife sent my mother and Auntie Anne Japanese dolls in full dress as a thank you gift, along with an assortment of seaweed wrapped crackers that I adored.

Kankashi flowers, made with an open flame, petal by petal.

We’ve always had oriental art and trinkets dotted throughout our house, as much a part of the decor as any throw pillow or bookend, even beyond the Hawaii years. And little Japanese lanterns were a family favorite tradition on our Christmas tree. So of course a Japanese doll was somewhere in my future!

It was finally the time. I learned a lot in my research, like how a kimono is always worn left over right unless you’re in mourning, as well as how to make Kansashi flowers in the traditional Japanese way. And that the wooden shoes are called “Geta” and the socks with the split toe are called “Tabi.”

I used balsa and wood with red velvet cording to make these Geta shoes.

Since we don’t have massive fabric stores, and for once I didn’t have on hand the kind of fabric I wanted, searched the fabric section at the craft store, worried I wouldn’t find anything that would work. Christmas to the rescue! Freshly arrived for the coming holiday this red with metallic gold was just the thing. I heaved a dainty sigh of relief when I found it.

Speaking of my mother and talking to her last night, guess who won the last doll, No. 110 Mona? My mother! When I see her occasionally bidding I say, “Aw, Mom!” beneath my breath and actually right to her. When she gets outbid I tell her, “OKAY MOM!! STAHHHP!!!” This woman has a MIND OF HER OWN. I think I come by my stubbornness honestly!

But she rarely bids, and only on dolls she likes. She knows me so well, and knows how hard that first doll back after a long period away was and how nervous making it was to get back in the saddle. Her reaction via email SAVED ME. She LOVED this girl and said I hadn’t lost my touch! PHEW. My mother is one to say what she thinks, so this meant a lot to me. And now she finally has an O.L.D.! Thanks Mom! YOU’RE MY FAVORITE MOM EVAH and one of the best human beings I know.

You know who else is my favorite human, as we get our first flurries of snow? YOU. You’re my favorite.

*Yosuru means “embrace” in Japanese.

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