Page protected with pending changes level 1

Fiona Graham

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Fiona Graham
Sayuki playing flute.JPG
Graham as Sayuki playing the yokobue Japanese flute in January 2013
Born Fiona Caroline Graham
Melbourne, Australia
Residence Tokyo, Japan
Nationality Australian
Other names Sayuki
Education Keio University
University of Oxford (M.B.A., Ph.D.)
Occupation Anthropologist, geisha

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?).

Academic career[edit]

Graham was born on in Melbourne, Australia,[3] and first traveled to Japan for a student exchange programme, when she was 15.[4]

Her first degrees in psychology and teaching were taken at Keio University, from where she was the first Caucasian woman to graduate.[5] She did a M.B.A. at the University of Oxford before completing a Ph.D. in social anthropology.[5][6] After getting her PhD, she became a television director working for Japanese and overseas broadcasters.[5] She has taught geisha culture at Keio University,[7] and lectures at Waseda University.[8]

Geisha activities[edit]

Sayuki (left) and one of her trainees in January 2013

On 19 December 2007, Graham formally debuted as a geisha under the name Sayuki, which she states means "transparent happiness",[9] in the Asakusa District of Tokyo, after a year of preparation and training.[10][11] She was the first Caucasian woman to do so.[4][10][12][13] Since Graham was over the age of 21, she was allowed to skip the hangyoku (apprentice) stage.[14] Graham initially became a geisha as a one-year-long academic project, but received permission to continue.[15] 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.[16][17][18] 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][13] which she chose after playing the flute for many years.[19]

In February 2011, Graham ceased to be associated with the Asakusa Geisha Association. According to several news reports, the Association disaffiliated her.[20][21] The Wall Street Journal reported that Graham was asked to leave "because her actions disgrace[d] the reputation of the association".[21] The Daily Telegraph cited an anonymous insider who claimed that Graham 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 or deny this.[22] 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.[23] 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".[21] Asakusa Geisha Association rules generally allow a geisha to open her own geisha house after being a geisha for four years, which Graham was.[24] 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.[20]

Also in 2011, Graham opened a kimono shop in the Asakusa district of Tokyo.[9]

In July 2013, Graham, as Sayuki, performed at the Hyper Japan festival in the United Kingdom.[25] In the same year, she also visited Dubaï and Greece.[26] As of 2013, Sayuki ran her own independent house in Yanaka, an old-world district in Tokyo, where she was training four apprentices.[2][27][28][29] In October 2015, she took on a new trainee.[30][better source needed]

In 2014, Graham opened a geisha bar in Kutchan, Hokkaido.[31] In April 2014, she was invited to perform alongside other geisha at the annual Harusame Festival (春雨祭?) in Nagasaki.[32][better source needed]

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.[33] 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.[33][34]

Graham appealed the charges to the High Court, which dismissed her appeals in February 2012, and then sought special leave to appeal the Court of Appeal against the High Court's decision. Her lawyer argued that Graham "should have been discharged without conviction because it was out of proportion to the gravity of the offence and would have an impact on her career in Japan". The judges denied special leave, stating that "there was no evidence that convictions would jeopardise Graham's career as a geisha or as a social anthropologist".[35]

In November 2012, Graham filed a complaint with the New Zealand Press Council against the Otago Daily Times newspaper, which reported on the case, "citing principles of accuracy, fairness and balance; of comment and fact; and of correction". In March 2013, the Press Council found no breach and dismissed the complaint.[36]

Media coverage[edit]

Sayuki was featured on the The Oprah Winfrey Show in February 2010,[37] and in the fashion magazine Marie Claire in November 2009.[38] Sayuki was featured in the lifestyle section of Metro in July 2013,[39] and on CNN's website in February 2015.[40]


Sayuki was featured on Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Radio National in February 2015.[41]


In 2010, Graham was awarded the Endeavour Scholarship, an Australian government scholarship.[42]


  • 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


  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. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Fiona Caroline Graham". Library of Congress. 2015. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-16. ... studied at Keio Univ., worked in the Japanese life insurance industry; later, Master's degree, management studies and Doctorate in social anthropology, U. of Oxford; her exper. and production of a film documentary for NHK form the basis for the fieldwork in the book ... data sh. 
  4. ^ a b Ryall, Julian (9 January 2008). "Westerner inducted into mysteries of geisha". The Telegraph. Japan: Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 6 June 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c
  6. ^ Ryall, Julian; Norrie, Justin (2008-01-08). "Australian academic is a geisha down to a tea". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  7. ^ "2012-2013 Keio University: International Center Courses" (PDF). Retrieved 29 October 2015. 
  8. ^ "Course List (Spring Semester)" (PDF). April 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 June 2014. Retrieved 29 October 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Martin, Alex (3 June 2011). "Geisha cuts into kimono market". The Japan Times Online. Japan: The Japan Times Ltd. Retrieved 8 June 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Melbourne woman becomes a geisha". 9 News. Ninemsn Pty Ltd. 8 January 2008. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2011. 
  11. ^ Corkill, Edan (29 June 2008). "Aussie geisha speaks out". The Japan Times. The Japan Times Ltd. Retrieved 3 June 2009. 
  12. ^ "Japanese geisha". Radio New Zealand. 5 December 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  13. ^ a b McNeill, David (24 January 2008). "Turning Japanese: the first foreign geisha". London: The Independent. Retrieved 8 July 2011. 
  14. ^ "STORY 2010". Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  15. ^ Nakano, Keisuke (12 May 2008), "Meet Sayuki, first foreign geisha", The Nikkei Weekly 
  16. ^ Dalby, Liza (1983). Geisha. London: Vintage U.K. pp. 106–112. ISBN 978-0-09-928638-7. 
  17. ^ Hyslop, Leah (4 October 2010). "Liza Dalby, the blue-eyed geisha". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 July 2011. 
  18. ^ Corkill, Edan. "Aussie geisha speaks out". The Japan Times. The Japan Times. Retrieved 28 September 2011. 
  19. ^ Sayuki. "Getting to be a Geisha". The Mainichi Daily News. Japan: The Mainichi Newspapers. Archived from the original on 8 September 2011. Retrieved 26 November 2014. 
  20. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  21. ^ 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. 
  22. ^ Ryall, Julian (4 June 2011). "First ever Western geisha leaves the 'sisterhood'". The Telegraph. Japan: Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 6 June 2011. Oxford-educated Fiona Graham, 47, was the only foreigner in 400 years to be accepted into the ranks of the geisha 
  23. ^ 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. 
  24. ^ "The hostess with the mostest". 6 October 2011. 
  25. ^ "Sayuki The First Western Geisha Appears at HYPER JAPAN 2013" (PDF). Hyper Japan. 2013. Archived from the original (pdf) on 22 April 2014. Retrieved 9 November 2015. 
  26. ^ "The Western woman who became a geisha". Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  27. ^ "Meet Sayuki, the world's first western geisha". Metro. United Kingdom: Associated Newspapers Limited. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  28. ^ "花柳界初 外国人芸者 紗幸 好きこそ物の上手なれ". Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  29. ^ "The Western woman who became a geisha". Tokyo: The National. Retrieved 2014-11-14. 
  30. ^ "Life inside the Flower and Willow World - Wattention". Wattention. 2015-10-08. Retrieved 2015-11-09. 
  31. ^ "Wikiwix's cache". Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  32. ^ "Sayuki was invited to perform with the Nagasaki Geisha". Retrieved 5 December 2014. 
  33. ^ 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. 
  34. ^ "Building company fined $64K". The Southland Times. New Zealand: Fairfax New Zealand Limited. 18 December 2010. Retrieved 4 August 2011. 
  35. ^ Quilliam, Rebecca (28 August 2013). "'First western geisha' loses appeal". Otago Daily Times. New Zealand: Allied Press Limited. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  36. ^ "Case Number: 2316 Fiona Graham Against Otago Daily Times". New Zealand: New Zealand Press Council. 2014. Archived from the original on 28 November 2014. Retrieved 28 November 2014. 
  37. ^ "Lisa Ling goes inside the world of a modern geisha and a real-life nunnery". Harpo Productions, Inc. 9 February 2010. Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  38. ^ Haworth, Abigail (9 November 2009). "Meet Japan's First Western Geisha". Marie Claire. Hearst Communication, Inc. Retrieved 5 August 2011. 
  39. ^ Scott, Lisa (25 July 2013). "Meet Sayuki, the world's first western geisha". Associated Newspapers Ltd. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  40. ^ Irvine, Dean (2 February 2015). "'A beautiful life': The Australian woman who became a geisha". Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Retrieved 18 April 2015. 
  41. ^ "The mysterious world of the geisha". RN. ABC. 12 January 2015. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  42. ^

External links[edit]