VICTORIA TSAI

VICTORIA TSAI

MEMOIRS ON A GEISHA

Tatcha founder Victoria Tsai remembers coming face-to-face with one of Japan’s elusive performing artists.

Geisha beauty rituals inspired Tsai to create her skincare brand, illustration courtesy of Tatcha

Seven years ago, I was in Kyoto meeting the artisans who make Tatcha’s gold leaf blotting paper.

I didn’t understand how the by-product of the gold leafing process becomes a beauty product, but geishas and Kabuki actors have used it to set their makeup for hundreds of years. When the artisans told me to ask a geisha [about it], I was like:

Do they even exist?

A couple hours later, I was with my translator in a teahouse, and one appeared, like an apparition walking down the corridor towards us.

Tsai in conversation with one of Japan’s revered entertainers, photograph courtesy of Victoria Tsai

I started crying because the geisha was so beautiful, like living, breathing art.

Everything down to the movement of the tip of her pinky finger was so graceful. I asked her all sorts of questions, but I could hardly concentrate.

I’m not sure why she spoke with me — the geisha world is small and very hard to penetrate — but [I like to think] it was because I was this random, crying, pregnant, American lady.

— as told to The Thick

Did you see? Burlesque star Dita von Teese takes The Thick Questionnaire, skincare expert Tata Harper goes backstage with Carla Bruni and Hubert de Givenchy.

 

Tsai and a geisha stroll the streets of Japan, photograph courtesy of Victoria Tsai