History external image japanesegeisha.jpg
In the early stages of Japanese history, there were female entertainers: saburuko (serving girls) were mostly wandering girls whose families were displaced from struggles in the late 600s. Some of these saburuko girls sold sexual services, while others with a better education made a living by entertaining at high-class social gatherings. After the imperial court moved the capital to Heian-kyō (Kyoto) in 794 the conditions that would form Japanese Geisha culture began to emerge, as it became the home of a beauty-obsessed elite. Skilled female performers, such as Shirabyōshi dancers, thrived.
Stages of training
Traditionally, Geisha began their training at a very young age. Some girls were bonded to geisha houses (okiya) as children. These girls were referred to as hangyoku and were as young as nine years old. This was not a common practice in reputable districts and disappeared in the 1950s with the outlawing of child labor. Daughters of geisha were often brought up as geisha themselves, usually as the successor (atotori, meaning "heir" or "heiress" in this particular situation) or daughter-role (musume-bun) to the okiya.
A maiko is essentially an apprentice and is therefore bonded under a contract to her okiya. The okiya supplies her with food, board, kimonos, obis, and other tools of her trade. Her training is very expensive, and her debt must be repaid to the okiya with the earnings she makes. This repayment may continue after the maiko becomes a full-fledged geisha and only when her debts are settled is she permitted to move out to live and work independently.

After a short period the final stage of training begins, and the students are called "maiko". Maiko (literally "dance girl") are apprentice geisha, and this stage can last for years. Maiko learn from their senior geisha mentor and follow them to all their engagements. The onee-san and imouto-san (senior/junior, literally "older sister/younger sister") relationship is important. The onee-san teaches her maiko everything about working in the hanamachi. The onee-san will teach her proper ways of serving tea, playing shamisen, dancing, casual conversation and more. The onee-san will even help pick the maiko's new professional name with kanji or symbols related to her name.


Geisha begin their study of music and dance when they are very young and continue it throughout their lives. Geisha can work into their eighties and nineties, and are expected to train every day even after seventy years of experience.

The word geisha literally means "artist" and late in the eighteenth century this could have described an array of Japanese women artists: Shiro, purely an entertainer; kerobi, a tumbling geisha; kido, a geisha who stood at the entrance to carnivals; or joro, a prostitute and the type of woman that professional geishas have been wrongly mistaken as for many years.

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In modern times the traditional makeup of apprentice geisha is one of their most recognizable characteristics, though established geisha generally only wear full white face makeup characteristic of maiko during special performances.

The traditional makeup of an apprentice geisha features a thick white base with red lipstick and red and black accents around the eyes and eyebrows. Originally, the white base mask was made with lead, but after the discovery that it poisoned the skin and caused terrible skin and back problems for the older geisha towards the end of the Meiji Era, it was replaced with rice powder.


Geisha always wear kimono. Apprentice geisha wear highly colorful kimono with extravagant obi. Always, the obi is brighter than the kimono she is wearing to give a certain exotic balance. Maiko of Kyoto wear the obi tied in a style called "darari" (dangling obi), while Tokyo "hangyoku" wear it tied in various ways, including taiko musubi. Older geisha of Kyoto wear more subdued patterns and styles (most notably the obi tied in a simpler knot utilized by married women known as the "taiko musubi" or "drum knot"). Tokyo and Kanazawa geisha wear "yanagi musubi" willow style), taiko musubi and "tsunodashi musubi"

The color, pattern, and style of kimono is dependent on the season and the event the geisha is attending. In winter, geisha can be seen wearing a three-quarter length haori lined with hand-painted silk over their kimono. Lined kimono are worn during colder seasons, and unlined kimono during the summer. A kimono can take from two to three years to complete, due to painting and embroidering.external image YM-Geisha_1008302c.jpg




Green Conscience, Franke James

Franke James is an artist and writer on environment and social change. She is the author of Bothered By My Green Conscience published in Spring 2009 and the inventor of Dear Office-Politics: the game everyone plays.

As an artist, photographer and writer, Franke’s artistic mission is to do something green and document it. Franke made news headlines for her environmental actions by successfully winning permission from Toronto City Hall for the right to build a green driveway. Franke’s work has been featured in the Toronto Star, National Post, Montreal Gazette, Times-Colonist, Ottawa Citizen,, Treehugger, Worldchanging, and in numerous blogs. Her story A Green Winter was part of an anthology entitled Perspectives on Contemporary Issues that included stories from Stephen Lewis, Margaret Atwood, and David Suzuki. Franke produced A Green Winter as an animated short. It was screened at the 2007 Green Living Show between appearances by Al Gore and Robert Kennedy, Jr. Franke has a Masters in Fine Arts from the University of Victoria, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Mount Allison University.
Franke lives in Toronto where her favorite mode of transportation is walking. Franke James is an entertaining and persuasive advocate for the environment. She merges science, art and storytelling to inspire people to take action and “do the hardest thing first” for the planet. Her lively presentations demonstrate her ‘rare skill of presenting important abstract concepts with immediacy and relevance through her art.’
Franke has delivered keynotes and workshops at a variety of educational events in Canada and the USA, including Upper Canada College, the University of Colorado, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board, the Canadian Ecology Centre, the University of Cincinnati, Bates College, the Ontario Teachers Federation climate change camps and many others (see below for details). She frequently combines speaking events with her Green Conscience art workshops.

Workshop examples

Bothered By Four TV's On All the Time! from Franke James on Vimeo.

Bothered By Consuming Stuff from Franke James on Vimeo.

Book: Bothered By My Green Conscience
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Franke James commented, “I’m thrilled it won the Green Book Festival Award for Graphic Novels! Book awards catch the attention of the media — and are therefore a great way to get the core message of my book to the public, and that is, ‘Do the hardest thing first.’ And then brag about it, shamelessly! Tell everyone about the wonderful green thing you did! Pretty soon, you’ll discover it’s fun and you’ll be inspiring others. Your friends and family may feel envious at first — but before you know it, they’ll be doing their own ‘hard green thing.’ And then we’ll have a real green revolution happening! And we need that.
“We’re treating our world as though it was disposable, and we had another shiny new one just waiting on a shelf for us. But we don’t! We need to get serious about protecting the environment, so that our children and grandchildren will have a healthy planet to live on. We can do a lot to fix the world, but we need to get ambitious now — and not wait for the politicians to save us.

“Do the hardest thing first. You’ll be surprised how fun it is, and how good it makes you feel!”

Franke James is talking about her book

Some examples from Franke's visual essays:
From My Suv and Me
From My Suv and Me
From To My Future Grandkids in 2020
From To My Future Grandkids in 2020

From My Future Grandkids 2020
From My Future Grandkids 2020


2D (AF)


The Great Wall of China is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west line across the historical northern borders of China in part to protect the Chinese Empire or its prototypical states against intrusions by various nomadic groups or military incursions by various warlike peoples or forces. Several walls had already been begun to be built beginning around the 7th century BC; these, later joined together and made bigger, stronger, and unified are now collectively referred to as the Great Wall. Especially famous is the wall built between 220–206 BC by the first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang. Little of that wall remains. Since then, the Great Wall has on and off been rebuilt, maintained, enhanced; the majority of the existing wall was reconstructed during the Ming Dynasty.
Other purposes of the Great Wall have included allowing for border control practices, such as check points allowing for the various imperial governments of China to tariff goods transported along the Silk Road, to regulate or encourage trade (for example trade between horses and silk products), as well as generally to control immigration and emigration. Furthermore, the defensive characteristics of the Great Wall were enhanced by the construction of watch towers, troop barracks, garrison stations, signaling capabilities through the means smoke or fire, and the fact that the path of the Great Wall also served as a transportation corridor.
The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Lake in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. The most comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has concluded that all the walls measure 8,851.8 km (5,500.3 mi).This is made up of 6,259.6 km (3,889.5 mi) sections of actual wall, 359.7 km (223.5 mi) of trenches and 2,232.5 km (1,387.2 mi) of natural defensive barriers such as hills and rivers.


Early walls

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Great Wall of the Qin Dynasty
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Great Wall of the Han Dynasty
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Great Wall of the Ming Dynasty
The Chinese were already familiar with the techniques of wall-building by the time of the Spring and Autumn Period.During this time and the subsequent Warring States Period, the states of Qin,Wei, Zhao, Qi, Yan and Zhongshan all constructed extensive fortifications to defend their own borders. Built to withstand the attack of small arms such as swords and spears, these walls were made mostly by stamping earth and gravel between board frames.
Qin Shi Huang conquered all opposing states and unified China in 221 BCE, establishing the Qin Dynasty. Intending to impose centralized rule and prevent the resurgence of feudal lords, he ordered the destruction of the wall sections that divided his empire along the former state borders. To protect the empire against intrusions by the Xiongnu people from the north, he ordered the building of a new wall to connect the remaining fortifications along the empire's new northern frontier. Transporting the large quantity of materials required for construction was difficult, so builders always tried to use local resources. Stones from the mountains were used over mountain ranges, while rammed earth was used for construction in the plains. There are no surviving historical records indicating the exact length and course of the Qin Dynasty walls. Most of the ancient walls have eroded away over the centuries, and very few sections remain today. The human cost of the construction is unknown, but it has been estimated by some authors that hundreds of thousands, if not up to a million, workers died building the Qin wall. Later, the Han, Sui, and Northern dynasties all repaired, rebuilt, or expanded sections of the Great Wall at great cost to defend themselves against northern invaders. The Tang and Song Dynasties did not build any walls in the region. The Liao, Jin, and Yuan dynasties, who ruled Northern China throughout most of the 10-13th centuries, had their original power bases north of the Great Wall proper; accordingly, they would have no need throughout most of their history to build a wall along this line. The Liao carried out limited repair of the Great Wall in a few areas,]however the Jin did construct defensive walls in the 12th century, but those were located much to the north of the Great Wall as we know it, within today's Inner and Outer Mongolia


Damla Liman
2/D 101009910