Cut-price geisha shocks `willow world'
Tuesday 13 December 1994
Geisha, with their elaborate make-up and silk kimonos, were once a frequent sight on the streets of Gion, Kyoto's entertainment quarter. In the early evening they could be seen hurrying through the narrow streets to assignations behind sliding screens, like the coy courtesans in old Japanese prints. But a top-level geisha can cost several thousand pounds for a night's entertainment, and in recent years, with increasing strain on company expense accounts, their numbers have dwindled.
Ms Takagi - working name "Mameiku", or "Growing Bean" - had the bright idea of offering a cut-rate service for the low-budget dilettante. With three other young geisha, two sales staff and a make-up artist, Ms Takagi's company has been doing quite well since it was set up at the beginning of November - to the fury of her old employer, who thinks she is violating the code of the profession.
Geisha are sought after for their skills in traditional singing, dancing and playing the samisen, a stringed instrument. Normally they do not offer sex, except to the danna, a wealthy patron each girl seeks out as her protector. The geisha world is exclusive: normally a man can make an appointment only if introduced by a business acquaintance. But Ms Takagi's company takes orders by telephone and will send one of the four geisha anywhere in the Kyoto region. And at £80 per hour, their fees are very low.
Since most geisha live in established geisha houses, their fees must cover the house teachers, auxiliary staff and overheads. For daring to break the trust of her former house and set up on her own in a cheap flat, Ms Takagi is seen by some as an opportunistic parvenue.
But the "Growing Bean" is not deterred: last week she filed a court case against her former employers, charging them with physical abuse, forcing her to work excessive hours with no holidays and withholding over £30,000 in tips from clients. "They are j
u st vicious people," she said. "They thought the harder they worked me the more money they could get."
Ms Takagi, born in southern Japan, came to Kyoto when she was 15, joined the Arai geisha house and started to train as a maiko, or apprentice. She made her debut after a year's training, but gradually became disillusioned with the geisha house.
During her time with the Arai house she found a rich patron, and with his backing decided to break out. "The three other maiko left their geisha houses, all fed up with various types of abuse and bullying. We have been pretty busy since we established
our business. And we have our freedom."
- 1 Jennifer Lawrence scores first UK top 40 single with Hunger Games track 'The Hanging Tree'
- 2 Shia LaBeouf claims he was raped during #IAMSORRY art installation performance
- 4 Scientists predict green energy revolution after incredible new graphene discoveries
Obama: The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans
Ukip says babies born to immigrants in the UK should be classed as migrants – which would include Nigel Farage’s own children
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
David Cameron sets out immigration reforms: We should distrust Ukip and their 'snake-oil of simple solutions'
Ukip mocked after mistaking Westminster Cathedral – for a mosque
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...
£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...
£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...
£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...