Episode 303 – A History of the Geisha

Finally, a long overdue look at one of the most romanticized and exocitized parts of traditional Japanese culture. What are geisha? Where do they come from? Aren’t they basically fancy prostitutes? And haven’t I learned everything I need to know about them from reading Memoirs of a Geisha?


Dahlby, Liza Crihfield. Geisha

Iwasaki, Mineko. Geisha: A Life

Masuda, Sayo. Autobiography of a Geisha.

Yamamura, Kozo, ed. The Cambridge History of Japan, Vol. 3: Medieval Japan. 



An Edo period print of the shirabyoshi Shizuka.
A maiko named Fumino.
Geisha entertaining clients, c. mid-Taisho period.
Miehina, a maiko of Miyagawacho.
The geisha Kimiha from the Miyagawacho hanamachi, dressed in traditional style.
The maiko Katsumi and Mameteru practicing a traditionald ance.