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Modern Geishas in Japan — Pretty Tradition or Outdated Idea?

In Japan, being a geisha is a steeped in tradition but a fading career choice for the modern woman. Years ago, girls needed personal connections to become a geisha. But one 23-year-old named Komomo (Little Peach) looked for the job the same way many modern women job hunt — by email.

She was lured to the field for love of country. She says, "I wanted to know more about my own country and that's why I chose this world. I wanted to make Japanese history and customs a part of my daily life, not just wearing a kimono occasionally but every day and living life as they did in the old days."


Despite her high-minded reasons for becoming a geisha, she admits she's judged harshly on her appearance, and though she loves her job, she worries about the future. There are no pensions for geisha and they are not permitted to marry.

The number of geisha in Japan peaked at 80,000 in 1928, but now only 1,000 are left. Two reasons are shrinking business expense accounts zapped after the economic woes of the 1990s, and politicians who now stay away fearing scandal.

A dinner with a geisha present can cost around 80,000 yen ($785) a person, depending on the venue and number of geisha. In a nod to the modernizing world, men are now geisha, too, serving the growing number of professional women in Japan willing to fork out from $1,000 to $50,000 a night for male companionship.

Is this a tradition worth saving? Do you like the idea of modern co-ed geisha?


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Chi-Ankoku Chi-Ankoku 5 years
I have been doing some reading and research on geisha and it is a beautiful custom.There is no equivalent to the geisha in the entire world.I believe that the tradition should be preserved.I think that the geisha are the main people who keep the japanese tradition alive.Though, I also believe that the geisha need to tweak some of their rules a little bit.It needs to be more appealing to the young girl.I also think that if they are really serious about saving this tradition then they need to open it up to more people a.k.a rces.I'm pretty sure that every single geisha known to man has been asian.I think that this should be changed.If they want more people they need to open it up to more people and make it easier to apply to be geisha.You usually have to have a lot of connections to become a geisha.Quite frankly, I'm black(african-american) and I would love to become a geisha.I've been trying to find a geisha house that would accept me for 2 years now.Its probably never going to happen but because I really want it I cant help but try.They also need to give pension and allow the women to marry.
seattlegeisha seattlegeisha 7 years
Oh, if the tradition of geisha fades totally, I will be devastated! The tradition is so rich and beautiful I would be saddened if I could never go to Japan and see a geisha! It's such a pitty so much of taditonal japanese culture is slipping away now that they are becoming more and more westernized. A even bigger pitty is that so many people think they are prostitutes so they look down on this beautiful tradition.
moto13 moto13 8 years
dragonfly72 furisodesan is a site of a company of maiko fyi
tulipfield tulipfield 8 years
I think it's something that would be nice to keep, considering how much of traditional Japan seems to be slipping away. Some feminists may not like it, but the women who do become geisha obviously chose to go into the profession, so I see nothing wrong with it. Besides for their own sake, keeping geisha around helps to keep alive the arts of dance and music that they learn during their training.
daemonsparkle daemonsparkle 8 years
Geishas are similar to the now boming escort service in America and other European countries. I see no reason why this lovely tradition should have to die much less why it should slide in profit.
svogar svogar 8 years
Although I will never be able to afford such a luxury, I strongly believe that tradition should be preserved. The tradition of Geisha provides a beauty that is sadly lacking in the world we live in today. The main modification that is necessary is they need to be provided with benefits and security by special funds or the state.
dragonfly72 dragonfly72 8 years
This site has some interesting info. on Geisha and Maiko. http://www.immortalgeisha.com/faq_geisha.php and on furisode-san (some women who mimic the look of maiko) ? http://www.furisodesan.com/index.html I found both interesting so I thought I'd share.
Nyrina-Windu Nyrina-Windu 8 years
I agree devangel237. And they do look beautiful.
devangel237 devangel237 8 years
if it's wanted in Japan, who am I to say that it shouldn't occur?
Lunerslides Lunerslides 8 years
I would Sooo try out a male geisha
Frank-y-Ava Frank-y-Ava 8 years
that part of their culture was taken from them in the war and i definitely think they should save that. it's cool, i saw memoirs of a geisha and i though it was beautiful what they did.
Chase24 Chase24 8 years
Geishas are NOT prostitutes! They have been traditional been entertainers, they are trained in classical dance and music. Geisha translates to artist or performing artist. The only reason reason so many americans believe geishas are prostitutes is because of the American GIs who came back talking about "Geisha Girls" who were woman who worked as prostitutes during the time. True Geisha's tie tie there Obi, bow of there sash, in the back, while the prostitute's obi is tied in the front due to her line of work.
StephyBanana StephyBanana 8 years
Geisha's are physical artists. I think this is a great tradition, but I agree they should reap some kind of benefits. Especially if they're smart enough to learn all of that history.
juliarose23 juliarose23 8 years
I think as a part of the Japanese culture it should be saved, but I can see how women could struggle trying to make it their profession.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 8 years
It's a shame to see the tradition die out, then again, since the time has evolved (look at the pic of a geisha going online :lol: ), maybe they should tweak the rules a little bit (how about having a retirement? Benefits? etc) especially if this is a part of a culture that the Japanese doesn't want to lose. I've always thought geisha is professional hostesses who are skilled in the art of flower arranging, dancing (traditional, I'm not talking about pole dancing or/and provocative dances), musical instruments, and supposedly very intelligent (according to the Japanese male standard) that they can hold an entertaining and stimulating conversation with the men who seek them out and etc. As for sex, I never knew of them being paid for sex, although I have read about geishas ending up taking a lover (who's usually part of the men who solicit them) or two or whatever. What I know was it was her decision with whom she wanted to have an 'extra special' relationships with. But let's be honest, these men who become lovers with them, most likely help out financially as well... Prostitutes in Japan is completely different than a geisha, imho. PS I've been to Japan, but I've never encountered a geisha (I went there w/ family to visit family so it's not exactly sight-seeing or learning more about them), and I understand that it's an antiquated system now that women are starting to gain equality in such patriarchal society.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 8 years
It's a shame to see the tradition die out, then again, since the time has evolved (look at the pic of a geisha going online :lol: ), maybe they should tweak the rules a little bit (how about having a retirement? Benefits? etc) especially if this is a part of a culture that the Japanese doesn't want to lose.I've always thought geisha is professional hostesses who are skilled in the art of flower arranging, dancing (traditional, I'm not talking about pole dancing or/and provocative dances), musical instruments, and supposedly very intelligent (according to the Japanese male standard) that they can hold an entertaining and stimulating conversation with the men who seek them out and etc.As for sex, I never knew of them being paid for sex, although I have read about geishas ending up taking a lover (who's usually part of the men who solicit them) or two or whatever. What I know was it was her decision with whom she wanted to have an 'extra special' relationships with. But let's be honest, these men who become lovers with them, most likely help out financially as well...Prostitutes in Japan is completely different than a geisha, imho.PS I've been to Japan, but I've never encountered a geisha (I went there w/ family to visit family so it's not exactly sight-seeing or learning more about them), and I understand that it's an antiquated system now that women are starting to gain equality in such patriarchal society.
Geisha-Runner Geisha-Runner 8 years
Pretty tradition. Geisha are artists. They are judged as a moving piece of art work. It's fabulous that women still want to follow in those historical steps! If I could do it ... I so would!
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
"I didn't know it was a stereotype, I always thought that a Geisha was Japan's version of a prostitute." Nope, prostitutes are Japan's versions of prostitutes ;)
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
"I didn't know it was a stereotype, I always thought that a Geisha was Japan's version of a prostitute."Nope, prostitutes are Japan's versions of prostitutes ;)
pargie pargie 8 years
I was referring to DCstar's comment "I know that Geisha are always fighting the stereotype of "prostitute,".... I didn't know it was a stereotype, I always thought that a Geisha was Japan's version of a prostitute.
pargie pargie 8 years
I was referring to DCstar's comment "I know that Geisha are always fighting the stereotype of "prostitute,"....I didn't know it was a stereotype, I always thought that a Geisha was Japan's version of a prostitute.
poissondujour poissondujour 8 years
Pargie- if you read the comments above, I think we've all been clear that prostitution is not a geisha's job *at all*.
pargie pargie 8 years
I was under the impression that Gieshas were prostitutes, as someone mentioned above. I always knew there was a lot more to it than that, but I didn't realize it wasn't the primary job. Hmmm I'd like to re-think my answer.
SlrAlphCentauri SlrAlphCentauri 8 years
Seeing as most people who lambasted the author didn't read the article, the term they used to describe these male geisha is "otoko geisha," and I'm more than a little bothered that people have become experts on saying that there is no such thing as a male geisha. Do you think Times of India made up the term? I don't think so.It is possible for male geisha to exist and for it to be such a small number of men doing this that people in Japan may not have heard of them. And according to the article, geishas started out as men but, over time, men were outnumbered by women in the profession and are now the only gender people think of when they hear the term.Considering that this is a country that had kabuki theater in which all roles (male and female) were played by men, why is this so difficult for people to accept? They aren't saying the men are doing the exact same things as the women who are following the geisha tradition, but so many people got so uptight about this that I had to say something.
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