Etsuko was born to a simple fisherman and his wife. Ichiro and Kasumi had two daughters, Etsuko and Sachiko. Both daughters were happy and obedient but Ichiro desired a son more than anything. No son ever arrived to continue the fmaily line and learn the fishing trade. Kasumi died of a deadly fever while Etsuko was a young girl and Sachiko was a small toddler. Ichiro was heart broken and could not bring himself to remarry.
Jiro, Ichiro’s younger brother was ambitious and pleased that he had a son of his own, Masumi, who would become the head of the clan someday. When Ichiro begged Jiro to have his wife care for the two young girls, Jiro refused stubbornly. With hard times pressing him and no one to care for his children as he fished all day, Ichiro had no choice but sell his daughters as house servants, hangyoku.
Etsuko and Sachiko were carted off to a large city with an active Hanamachi (flower town district). Tearfully, Etsuko and Sachiko were sent off to separate geisha houses, Okiya. They would never see each other again. Etsuko was sent to Hoshi’s Okiya. there Etsuko would work hard, long hours taking care of the house. She was servant to both Hoshi and Hoshi’s apprentice, Yasu.
Hoshi and Yasu were especially cruel to Etsuko. They would torment the girl as she labored and degrade her with belittling comments thoughout the day. Every dish she broke or cup of tea she spilt was recorded as a debt to the house. All of her meals (which seldomly included fish or meats) were included in the account. She would be their servant forever since the debt would not be repaid.
Hope and optimism still filled the young Etsuko’s heart and despite the harsh conditions she thrived. At the age of twelve, she surpassed Yasu in beauty and wit but without an education, her future looked bleak. Her strength of heart and unbroken spirit were enough to impress the unconquered son. The girl recieved the spark of solar power.
It was during a fateful formal visit by the Okiya’s rival, Naoki, that young Etsuko would make her escape. Naoki, the very lovely and powerful geisha, saw the spark of potential in Etsuko. Naoki offered a wager to Hoshi. She would pay for Etsuko’s formal education, train her in the ways of th geisha and mentor her as her Onee-san, older sister. If Etsuko could earn enough patronage to cover her debts by her debut as a geisha, Hoshi would grant her freedom. If Etsuko failed, Naoki would retire early, leaving Hoshi unchallenged as the most powerful and desired geisha in the city. Hoshi readily accepted the wager. After all, how could a house servant already in debt and several years behind in training compete with Yasu and earn enough patronage to pay off her account with the okiya?
During the next few years, Hoshi and Yasu did their best to sabotage Naoki and Etsuko. They would show up at celebrations and events that their rivals were scheduled to attend in an attempt to steal patrons. They sewed many false rumors and did their best to get their pair blacklisted from tea houses. It was all to no avail. Naoki and Etsuko were solars, no moere mortal women could outshine them in the art of conversation and entertaining. Naoki and Etsuko easily earned their own patrons and cleared any rumors or doubts about their good natures.
At the age of 18, Etsuko became a full-fledged geisha, free of debt. Reluctantly, Hoshi held up her end of the bargain and set her free. With her training complete, Etsuko sets off to find her place in the world and searches for true happiness.
My Character’s Name:
ETSUKO (悦子): “joyful child.”
NAOKI (直樹): “docile tree.”
HOSHI (星): “star.”
My Character’s Rival:
YASU (ヤス): “assertive child.”
Family: Takashi Clan
ICHIRO: “first son.”
KASUMI (霞): “mist.”
SACHIKO (幸子): “happy child.”
JIRO: “second son.”
MASUMI (真澄): “true lucidity.”