Fiona Graham

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Fiona Graham
Born Fiona Caroline Graham
Melbourne, Australia
Residence Tokyo, Japan
Nationality Australian
Other names Sayuki
Alma mater Keio University
Occupation Anthropologist, geisha
Website
www.sayuki.net

Fiona Caroline Graham (born in Melbourne, Australia) is an Australian anthropologist who works as a geisha in Japan.[1][2] She made her formal debut as a geisha in 2007 in the Asakusa district of Tokyo under the name Sayuki (紗幸?) which means transparent happiness.[3] She teaches a seminar called Geisha Culture at the School of International Liberal Studies at Waseda University.[4]

Academic career[edit]

Graham first traveled to Japan for a student exchange programme, when she was 15.[5]

Her first degrees in psychology and teaching were taken at Keio University, and she completed a doctorate in Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford.[6]

She taught[7] Geisha Culture at Keio University before she started lecturing at Waseda University.

In 2010 she was awarded the Endeavour Scholarship.[8]

Geisha activities[edit]

On 19 December 2007, Graham formally debuted as a geisha under the name Sayuki in the Asakusa District of Tokyo, after a year of preparation and training.[9][10] She was the first western woman who was allowed to do so in the history of the Geisha.[11][5][9][12] Due to her age, Graham was allowed to skip the hangyoku stage.[13] Graham became a geisha as an academic project for a year initially, but received permission to continue after the initial year.[14] Her formal debut and membership of a geisha house distinguishes her from American scholar Liza Dalby, who researched geisha and attended banquets as a geisha in the 1970s, but did not formally debut as a geisha.[15][16][17] Graham had taken lessons in tea ceremony, and as of 1 August 2011 was taking lessons in shamisen, singing, and her main art of yokobue (Japanese bamboo flute),[1][12] which she chose after playing western flute for many years.[18][dead link]

Graham was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show in February 2010,[19] and also in the fashion magazine Marie Claire in November 2009.[20]

In February 2011, Graham ceased to be associated with the Asakusa Geisha Association. According to several news reports, the Association disaffiliated her.[21][22] The Wall Street Journal reported that Graham was asked to leave "because her actions disgrace[d] the reputation of the association".[22] The Daily Telegraph cited an anonymous insider who claimed that Sayuki had failed to follow customs and show proper deference to more experienced practitioners, as well as spending too much time on self-promotion. The Asakusa Geisha Association would not confirm this.[23] According to other reports, Graham had requested permission to operate independently from December 2010 after the "mother" of her geisha house fell ill, and denied falling out with other geisha. Graham said she would continue to operate as a geisha, and would consider joining a different geisha district.[24] According to a representative of the Asakusa Geisha Association, the Association only gave special dispensation for Graham to be a geisha "as part of her study" and "did not expect her to want to become an independent Geisha to begin with".[22] Asakusa Geisha Association rules generally allow a geisha to open her own geisha house after being a geisha for four years.[25] According to Graham, the Association would not allow her to have her own geisha house because she was not Japanese. The Association acknowledged that Japanese citizenship was one requirement for working as a geisha.[21]

As of 2013, Graham worked as an independent geisha in Japan and overseas.[2][26]

Wanaka Gym court case and fine[edit]

In December 2010, as sole director of Wanaka Gym Ltd., Graham was fined NZ$64,000 and ordered to pay NZ$9,000 in costs to the Queenstown Lakes District Council in New Zealand, after being convicted of 14 charges under the Building Act concerning the use of the Wanaka Gym in Wanaka to house foreign tourists after the building had been declared "dangerous" in June 2008.[27] During the trial, Graham's second lawyer sought to have the defendant's name and occupation details suppressed, claiming it would jeopardise her activities in Japan, but this was denied by the presiding judge.[27][28]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Inside the Japanese Company by Fiona Graham, Curzon Press, 2003, ISBN 0-415-30670-1
  • A Japanese Company In Crisis: Ideology, Strategy, And Narrative (Contemporary Japan) by Fiona Graham, Routledge, 2005, ISBN 0-415-34685-1
  • Playing at Politics: An Ethnography of the Oxford Union by Fiona Graham, Dunedin Academic Press, Edinburgh, 2005, ISBN 978-1-903765-52-4

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Ng, Adelaine (1 August 2011). "A glimpse into the secret world of geisha". Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "The Sayuki Geisha Banquet service Starts!!". Niseko Japan. Japan: Niseko Promotion Board Co., Ltd. 7 January 2013. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Martin, Alex (3 June 2011). "Geisha cuts into kimono market". The Japan Times Online. Japan: The Japan Times Ltd. Retrieved 8 June 2014. 
  4. ^ http://www.waseda.jp/sils/jp/common/pdf/student/course/Course_List_Spring2014.pdf
  5. ^ a b Ryall, Julian (9 January 2008). "Westerner inducted into mysteries of geisha". The Telegraph (Japan: Telegraph Media Group Limited). Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  6. ^ Ryall, Julian and Norrie, Justin (2008-01-08). "Australian academic is a geisha down to a tea". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  7. ^ http://www.ic.keio.ac.jp/en/download/iccourse/2012/list_ic_2012.pdf
  8. ^ https://aei.gov.au/Scholarships-and-Fellowships/alumni/Documents/07-14%20Recipients.pdf
  9. ^ a b "Melbourne woman becomes a geisha". 9 News. Ninemsn Pty Ltd. 8 January 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  10. ^ Corkill, Edan (29 June 2008). "Aussie geisha speaks out". The Japan Times. The Japan Times Ltd. Retrieved 3 June 2009. 
  11. ^ http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons/audio/2578841/japanese-geisha
  12. ^ a b McNeill, David (24 January 2008). "Turning Japanese: the first foreign geisha". London: The Independent. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  13. ^ http://www.sayuki.net/media/story-2010/
  14. ^ Nakano, Keisuke (12 May 2008), "Meet Sayuki, first foreign geisha", The Nikkei Weekly 
  15. ^ Dalby, Liza (1983). Geisha. London: Vintage U.K. pp. 106–112. ISBN 978-0-09-928638-7. 
  16. ^ Hyslop, Leah (4 October 2010). "Liza Dalby, the blue-eyed geisha". The Telegraph (London). Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  17. ^ Corkill, Edan. "Aussie geisha speaks out". The Japan Times. The Japan Times. Retrieved 28 September 2011. 
  18. ^ "Getting to be a Geisha". The Mainichi Daily News. Japan: The Mainichi Newspapers. Retrieved 20 September 2011. 
  19. ^ "Lisa Ling goes inside the world of a modern geisha and a real-life nunnery". Oprah.com. Harpo Productions, Inc. 9 February 2010. Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  20. ^ Haworth, Abigail (9 November 2009). "Meet Japan's First Western Geisha". Marie Claire. Hearst Communication, Inc. Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  21. ^ a b "外国人芸者の独立ダメ…業界組合「想定外」と困惑" [Foreign geisha denied independence - Association uneasy at unexpected turn of events]. Sponichi Annex (in Japanese). Japan: Sports Nippon Newspapers. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  22. ^ a b c Novick, Anna (7 June 2011). "Foreign Geisha's Future Uncertain". The Wall Street Journal: Japan Realtime (Dow Jones & Company, Inc.). Retrieved 14 July 2011. 
  23. ^ Ryall, Julian (4 June 2011). "First ever Western geisha leaves the 'sisterhood'". The Telegraph (Japan: Telegraph Media Group Limited). Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  24. ^ Wallace, Rick (6 June 2011). "Aussie Geisha Fiona Graham rejects reports she's split with Asakusa Geisha Association". The Australian (Australia: News Limited). Retrieved 29 June 2011. 
  25. ^ "The hostess with the mostest". 6 October 2011. 
  26. ^ Cole-Baker, Alanna (22 November 2012). "Japan's first foreign geisha heads to Southeast Asia for a dose of Muay Thai". Southeast Asia Globe. South Eastern Globe Communications Co. Ltd. Retrieved 13 May 2013. 
  27. ^ a b Beech, James (18 December 2010). "Gym owner fined $64,000". Otago Daily Times Online. New Zealand: Allied Press Limited. Retrieved 4 August 2011. 
  28. ^ "Building company fined $64K". The Southland Times. New Zealand: Fairfax New Zealand Limited. 18 December 2010. Retrieved 4 August 2011. 

External links[edit]