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Cool Japan Guide / Kyoto's hidden world of geisha no longer a male bastion

Female guests with "maiko" at a Japanese inn, Gion Hatanaka, in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto. They are playing "Tora tora," a traditional game at "ozashiki asobi" venues. (Mihoko Takizawa)
(Female guests with "maiko" at a Japanese inn, Gion Hatanaka, in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto.
They are playing "Tora tora," a traditional game at "ozashiki asobi" venues.)

KYOTO--For a first-time foreign visitor to Kyoto, perhaps there is nothing so tantalizing as catching a glimpse of dainty "maiko," or apprentice geisha, as dusk descends on this historic city.
And then there are "geiko," as geisha from western Japan are known. Like maiko, these veterans of the "flower and willow word" ply their skills in the "hanamachi," or flower towns, of which the Gion district is by far the best known.
It is customary for high-class inns and teahouses where geisha entertain to turn away first-time visitors, known as "ichigensan," who have no formal introduction from a regular patron.
As most people know, it is only well-heeled men--and even then an exclusive group at that--who frequent "ozashiki asobi" establishments to be pampered in an art that dates to the early Edo Period (1603-1868).
To most Japanese, this is an elite world where kimono-clad women with white makeup, red lipstick and elaborate hairdos charm patrons with skills learned over many years. ...
Full story to be checked via AJW Link: http://ajw.asahi.com/article/cool_japan/culture/AJ201207160039

By TS on Jul 24, 2012
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