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?