Taikomochi (太鼓持) or hókan (幇間), was the name of the Japanese male geisha.

Taikomochi History

The Japanese equivalent of the court jester, who accompanied the daimyo (feudal lord) from the 13th century onwards. It originated from the 'Pure Land Buddhism Jia Sect', which centred on dancing.

These people entertained and advised their Lord and became known as dobosu ("comrades"), who were also experts in tea ceremony and artists. By the 16th century they had become known as otogisu or hanasisu (storytellers), where they focused on storytelling, humour and conversation. They discussed military strategies and fought alongside their masters.

The 17th century was a time of peace, when the Urais no longer needed otogisu and hanasisu and had to look for a new role. Counsellors became the humorists of purification and many of them found work with the Oiran, high quality Japanese courtesans. It was during this time that Seishuiso, a collection of comic stories written by Sakuden Anrakuan, was compiled.

The word "geisha" means "artist", but hokan is the polite equivalent of "court jester". Taikomocsi is the less polite name for these men, literally meaning "drum (taiko) owner", although not all of them used drums. It may also be an incorrect form of "to flatter someone".

These 3 terms were in use during the 17th century. In 1751, the first onna geisha (female geisha) arrived at a party and caused a stir. Her name was Geiko ("daughter of the arts"), which is still the name of the geisha in Kyoto today.

By the end of the 18th century, these onna geisha outnumbered the male geisha - the taiko - who became so few in number that they became otoko geisha ('male geisha'). The geisha took their artistic skills, contemporary looks and sophistication from the judo. Men continued to help women - this time the geisha - in the entertainment industry.

Taikomochi Decline

In Geisha: A Secret History of a Declining World, Lesley Downer wrote that in 1770 there were 16 female and 31 male geisha in Yoshiwara. In 1775 there were 33 female geisha, but still 31 male geisha.

But by 1800 there were 143 female and 45 male geisha. Women began to take over the baton and the role of men changed again - during this period, the men's role was to support the women at parties.

At the height of their popularity, there were between 500 and 600 taiko carts in Japan. Since then, the decline of the geisha began, as did the popularity of the jōkyu (coffee girl) in the 1920s, thanks to Westernisation. This in turn led to the decline of the taiko carriage.

The process accelerated with World War II, and the taiko carriage is still in decline today. Although there are still some small geisha communities in Kyoto and Tokyo, there are only 5 taiko carts in all of Japan. 4 in Tokyo and 1 in Kyoto. 

Taiko carriage Sicsiko

In Geisha: The Secret History of a Declining World, Lesley Downer interviewed Taiko Sicsiko, a Taiko carriage driver in Tokyo. Lesley, describes the Taikomocsis as the masters of the party, making sure guests have a good time by telling jokes, telling erotic stories, performing cabaret sketches, playing games and drinking alcohol.

These parties with geisha can be very expensive. Taikomocsi Sicsiko joked that "taikomocsi agete suideno taikomocsi" - that is, a man who spends all his time and money on taikomocsi will collapse, his wife will fire him, and he will have nothing left but to become a taikomocsi himself. This is obviously why so many people became taikomocs in the early years.

As part of his repertoire, he shocked the writer with a special cabaret scene - which was a classic erotic scene. The taiko carriage pretends to be talking to a danna (patron) who obviously wants to sleep with it. The taiko carriage explains that he is not homosexual and would rather call a geisha, but the danna is impatient.

The taiko carriage finally gives the client what he wants, and plays out (half-covered) the sex scene, with moans and eye play, until climax. Finally, the taiko carriage takes out a handkerchief to "clean up". The audience roared with laughter, as they all knew that this was just a funny performance of how geishas and taikomocs do their customers' bidding. 

Taiko cart Arai

Taiko Trolley Arai, the Kyoto Taiko Trolley, wants to promote this traditional art, both in Japan and around the world. He entertains maiko and geiko at ozasiki (geisha parties), where he tries to keep his profession alive.

He tells sophisticated erotic stories and has a good knowledge of the art of performance, which allows him to entertain guests and keep the party atmosphere alive. This kind of entertainment is the basis of the fertility banquets (enkai) associated with ancient Japanese agriculture.

In addition, ozasiki entertain with games, as well as storytelling, dancing and singing, to make parties enjoyable and pleasant. The ozasikin also accepts outside invitations to entertain with her performances and appearances at various events, including house parties for women, focusing on the history and culture of ozasiki.

She also gives performances in Osaka, at the Asahi Cultural Centre, and in Kobe. She also writes newspaper articles and even has her own radio show about Japan's traditional entertainment culture. He has also published a book, Ma no Gokui ("The essence of timing in the performing arts").

He was included in the film Nagasaki Burabura Busi to give advice to the character playing a taiko mochi. He has his own website about his profession and hopes to share the culture and history of taiko wagon with the world.

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