It Ain't Easy Being Geisha

Geisha are traditional female Japanese entertainers and social companions. Their training, performances, and appearance follow a tradition that goes back hundreds of years, and follow very elaborate rules and customs. The Japanese tea ceremony is a case in point. There is a right way, and many wrongs ways to do it, and each aspect of the setting, utensils, materials, and steps have a particular meaning.

Just wearing the traditional Japanese kimono takes dozens of steps! Here's how to do it (instructions scroll to the right... way to the right).

Besides wrangling with a kimono, maiko, or apprentice geisha, must wear ornate hairstyles with wax and accessories that may add six pounds to the weight of her head! Geisha stylist Tetsuo Ishihara tells us about maikos who must sleep propped on a wooden pillow to preserve a hairstyle that must last a week. Many maiko styles are displayed each year at Kushi-matsuri (the comb festival) in Kyoto.


It doesn't get any easier to look the part, after the jump.

Geisha makeup takes a big chunk of time and material. Here's a primer from a Japanese makeup website, just in case you want to try it.

Traditional geta sandals complete a kimono ensemble. Maiko wear a particularly tall type of geta sandals, called okobo.

You can see photos of the finished product in these two galleries of geisha photography by Frantisek Staud.


Compared to what geishas go through to be well-dressed, these modern fashionistas found at Japanese Fashion probably find it easy to look their best.


That's only how to get the look of a geisha. They must also learn etiquette and performing arts. Learn more about modern geisha at Immortal Geisha.

China Launches Crowdfunding Campaign to Restore the Great Wall

The Great Wall of China has been standing proudly for thousands of years—but now, it needs your help. CNN reports that the wall has fallen into disrepair and the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation has launched an online crowdfunding campaign to raise money for restorations.

Stretching 13,000 miles across northern China, the Great Wall was built in stages starting from the third century BCE and reaching completion in the 16th century. To some degree, though, it’s always been under construction. For centuries, individuals and organizations have periodically repaired and rebuilt damaged sections. However, the crowdfunding campaign marks the first time the internet has gotten involved in the preservation of the ancient icon. The China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation is trying to raise $1.6 million (11 million yuan) to restore the wall, and has so far raised $45,000 (or 300,000 yuan).

Fundraising coordinator Dong Yaohui tells the BBC that, although the Chinese government provides some funds for wall repairs, it’s not enough to fix all of the damage: "By pooling the contribution of every single individual, however small it is, we will be able to form a great wall to protect the Great Wall," he said.

[h/t CNN]

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YouTube // Deep Look
These Glowing Worms Mimic Shining Stars
YouTube // Deep Look
YouTube // Deep Look

The glow worms of New Zealand's Waitomo caves produce light, mimicking the starry night sky. Using sticky goop, they catch moths and other flying creatures unfortunate enough to flutter into the "starry" cavern. Beautiful and icky in equal parts, this Deep Look video takes you inside the cave, and up close with these worms. Enjoy:

There's also a nice write-up with animated GIFs if you're not in the mood for video. Want more glow worms? Check out this beautiful timelapse in a similar cave, or our list of 19 Places You Won't Believe Exist topped by—you guessed it—New Zealand's Glowworm Caves!


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