Bebe Taian: Hyakki Yagyou: Ao-nyobo

October 31, 2012

Hyakki Yagyou: Ao-nyobo

The last of this years' Hyakki Yagyou entries is Ao-nyobo. Actually, I hadn't decided on her until just now, scrapping my former plan of retelling The Peony Lantern story. But then today, I ended up dressing for a friends' Halloween party, and became Ao-nyobo.

Ao-nyobo is kind of a play-on words, as so many obake are. Ao is blue/green, and 'nyobo' is an archaic term for 'wife' or a woman in the court during the Heian era. Ao-nyobo is also the term for an inexperienced courtesan; thus, the joke. Ao-nyobo is a ghoul that you might encounter in old, abandoned palaces and houses of formerly wealthy people. She is a beautiful woman from behind, but when you see her, she is very ugly. She obsessively stares into a mirror, painting and repainting her face and teeth (at the time, it was high fashion to have blackened teeth), awaiting an aristocratic visitor. And when he comes... she will devour him.

It's a quick photo, but this is the beginning of the makeup done for the costume. I didn't bother dressing fully, since I was kind of in a rush to get the photo and get on with the night, but here's how to do your own ao-nyobo:

Start with white grease paint, especially the stick kind. This is your "sticky" base, like the wax geisha use to keep their makeup on. It's white, and it will make you look very pale if you load it on. Even it out with a good foundation brush. I use one by Ecotools.

Then, set the makeup using a matte white powder, as fine as you can get. Baby powder is perfect for this, but in a pinch, you can use white eyeshadow. Covergirl and Shiro Cosmetics both make good eyeshadow for this purpose.

Using the foundation brush, work in pink eyeshadow throughout the cheeks and in the corners of the eyes. Make sure to blend it out. You want something like a heavy version of geisha's makeup, avoiding the bridge of the nose, leaving it plain white down the middle. I used Porygon/Eye Contact by Shiro Cosmetics. I have a lot of her stuff, since there isn't much eye makeup out there that doesn't make my eyes itch and burn. x.x

Taking notes from Edo-period ukiyo-e, the eyebrows were first brushed a wider line in blue, then done in matte black. I used Squirtle/Bubblebeam and Dwarf in the Flask here. After the photo, I finished the eye makeup by drawing a heavier line of pink around the bottom outer corner of the eye, and lined the top lid, geisha-style. Then, I set a second top-line in black.

The lips were done with Nyx lipliner, I think in Hot Red, then layered over with 3WolfMoon by Shiro. To make the lipstick darker, and shine slightly green, I set it with Subrosia and Acid. NOTE: The lipstick will not shine like benihana. Instead, I was going for an old, set-in look using what I had in my case. I did not paint my teeth black, although that would be more accurate.

For the costume, I wore my purple iromuji with my asanoha juban underneath, Edo-style with the skirt trailing. I also wore my green hanhaba obi from late Meiji or Taisho, and a green/salmon kakeobi to keep the skirt up when I walked. Of course, white tabi and proper shoes had to be worn, as well. Over these, I would have worn a pink iromuji with woven fall/winter patterns, as is appropriate to the season, but I only had a silk one and I didn't want to wear it around the dogs at my friends' house. They're sweet dogs, but I couldn't risk any dirt or dog hair that time! Synthetics were the way to go. Easy to clean.

The key to pulling this off is to stay matte as possible, and be slightly messy. The ao-nyobo is mad with vanity, obsessed with beauty while becoming increasingly haggard and unkempt. Maybe next Setsubun, you can try it yourself!

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