Throughout the world, different groups of people have various kinds of holidays. Some of them, such as Christmas, are celebrated world widely. Others, however, are so unique that only certain group of people celebrate them and carry out the customs. For such a distinctive society as geisha’s karyukai, they for sure have their own special traditional holidays, and one of them is the Hassaku.
Hassaku (八朔) is on August 1. In Japanese, Hachi means eight and saku is the first day of each month. It is also called Tanomi (田の実), which literally means the fructification of fields. Originally, Hassaku meant August 1 of lunar calendar, when the first harvest of rice had occurred. Farmers would give out this first rice to their relatives, friends, and neighbors. One reason behind this custom is to share the joy of harvest. Another reason is to pray for a bigger foison of the second harvest, which is far more important than the first one. As time went on to Edo period, the custom had been changed completely. The day of Hassaku became a day to express your gratitude toward others. People would prepare presents for those who had helped them or taken care of them, especially for people like their teachers or seniors. Nevertheless, the tradition of Hassaku is forgotten and nowadays, most people no longer carry out this meaningful activity.
However, as Japan traditional culture preservers, geisha still perform this little-known custom. Today, on the day of Hassaku in solar calendar, geisha will put on their most formal kimono, the black one with crests on it, to visit various places to show their gratitude. The most important places are where their teachers live. Since arts are a significant part of geisha’s everyday lives and they spend a great amount of time on practicing these arts, teachers are for sure the people they appreciate the most. Aside from their teachers’ houses, they will also go to the teahouses where the banquets they usually attend are held. This is not only to thank the teahouses for always taking care of them, but also to politely ask teahouses to continue their support in the future.
As the time keeps moving on, more and more traditions are sure to be faded out of people’s memory. Fortunately, Japan has geisha to serve as traditional culture protectors. Otherwise, the meaningful holiday of expressing appreciation might lose forever.