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March 27, 2014

27 Beautiful Vintage Portraits of Gaijin (non-Japanese) Geishas From the Early 20th Century

Gaijin is a Japanese word for “foreigner”, “non-Japanese”, “alien” or “outsider”. The word is composed of two kanji: gai, meaning “outside”; and jin, meaning “person.”

Here are some beautiful vintage portraits of Gaijin Geisha in Kimonos from between the 1900s and 1920s.

Believed to live for a thousand years and to inhabit the land of the immortals, the Kimono is a symbol of longevity and good fortune. Specific motifs are used to indicate virtues or attributes of the wearer, or relate to the season or occasion such as weddings and festivals where it bestows good fortune on the wearer. To Westerners the word “Kimono” is synonymous with their image of Japan.

Kimonos as we know them today have evolved greatly in terms of design, fabric and wearability. From the Nara period (710-794) until the Heian period (794-1192), Japanese people typically wore either ensembles consisting of separate upper and lower garments (trousers or skirts), or one-piece garments.

The Samurai’s everyday wear was a Kimono, usually consisting of an outer and inner layer. Normally made of silk, the quality of the Kimono depended on the Samurai’s income and status. Beneath the Kimono, the warrior wore a loincloth.

The traditional Kimono is hard to wear and is very expensive for the common person. Newer versions of Kimono have been designed from linen, rayon and polyester to cater to all seasons and help the wearer move easily. These have lesser layers and do not cost as much as the silk variety.


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