Maiko Tourism Ambassadors "Namaste-dosu"First Dispatch to India from February 2221 February 2014 - Tradition/Culture
Two "Maiko," or apprentice geisha, of Gion will be dispatched to India as tourism ambassadors. They will showcase dances and "Kyo-kotoba," or the Kyoto dialect, at local places from February 22 for four days. According to "Kyoto Hanamachi Kumiai Rengokai," or an association of Kyoto entertainment areas, in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, it is uncommon for ambassadors to be dispatch to non-Western countries. Further progress in Kyoto sightseeing can be expected as entertainers of Kyoto culture personally take a hand in its promotion in areas that are markedly developing economically.
The event was organized by the Japan Foundation. Two Maiko from the Gion Higashi area of Kyoto's entertainment districts and a proprietress of a tea and Geisha house named "Tomikiku" and who has experienced studying abroad, will visit. They will show off "kouta," or traditional Japanese ballads, and dances in front of a total of 300 people in four places, including places such as hotels at Delhi and Chennai, the Consulate-General of Japan in India and others. In addition, they will introduce Kyo-kotoba, including "～dosu" and "～shiharu," which are the Japanese sentence endings with nuances of politeness and respect uniquely used in Kyoto, respectively.
According to the Japan Foundation, the expansion into the Indian market by Japanese companies is flourishing and the television broadcasts of Japanese anime such as "Ninja Hattori-kun" and "Doraemon" have become popular recently. There is a growing enthusiasm for Japan in India, leading to the production of the English version of "Kyojin no Hoshi."
The Japan Foundation distributed questionnaires to people who are studying Japanese in India. As a result, the trend of interest in the pitch of Japanese and traditional music was revealed, so they then decided to dispatch Maiko, who are the embodiment of Kyoto culture.
In regards to overseas deployment, three Geiko and Maiko traveled along with a delegation for promoting tourism which was sent by Kyoto City to Los Angeles for the first time in 1999. After that, there have been deployments overseas several times a year, including those requested by foreign countries. However, the Kyoto Hanamachi Kumiai Rengokai said, "We have never heard of dispatches of Geiko and Maiko to India before."
According to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), approximately 75,000 people visited Japan from India last year, when the number of visitors from foreign countries exceeded 10 million for the first time. India hit a new record as did other countries, including Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore, although, India has a low percentage of the total number. Among the approximately 845,000 foreign visitors who stayed in Kyoto in 2012, the number of visitors from India at approximately 10,000 people is small.(translated by Galileo, Inc.)