Type of Spiritual Experience
Within the context of Shinto, musical instruments were used both for entertainment in the more general sense, but also to help promote spiritual experience. The following has to be taken on two different levels it is both symbolic and graphic as it were.
Musical instruments were used by both ‘kabuki’ actors and Geisha.
This is a drawing by Ishikawa Toyonubu and is called Yoko-Oban. It was published round about 1751, well before the reforms. It shows one client surrounded by Geisha – both trainee and the main Geisha, plus two male servants.
They have had a meal and one of the younger trainee Geisha [shown smaller than the main Geisha – ranking is shown by size] is offering ‘tea’ to the man. One girl plays a zither. In the alcove we see a symbolic rabbit on a plinth. The room is extremely sumptuously decorated with wall hangings and paintings. At the back of the room is a huge scroll showing a portrait of a famous poet.
A description of the experience