From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
WikiProject Japan / Culture (Rated C-class, Top-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of the WikiProject Japan, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Japan-related articles on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the project and see a list of open tasks. Current time in Japan: 20:40, November 17, 2017 (JST, Heisei 29) (Refresh)
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
Checklist icon
 Top  This article has been rated as Top-importance on the project's importance scale.
Taskforce icon
This page is supported by the Culture task force.
WikiProject Women's History (Rated C-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Women's History, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Women's history and related articles on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
C-Class article C  This article has been rated as C-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Mid  This article has been rated as Mid-importance on the project's importance scale.
edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Geisha:
  • General copy-editing and reference addition.

Bogus "sourcing"[edit]

An extraordinary number of assertions are sourced to a single page (37) of Lesley Downer, "The City Geisha and Their Role in Modern Japan: A double history of cross-cultural misunderstandings", in Martha Feldman and Bonnie Gordon, eds, The Courtesan's Arts: Cross-Cultural Perspectives -- especially when we see that nothing whatever is sourced to any other page of this article. Has something gone wrong here? -- Hoary (talk) 01:29, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

PS It looked oddly familiar. Here on the talk page of Eparker3, I write (at 04:27, 22 January 2010):

I see you've recently been adding a lot to Geisha. Several of your footnotes read:
<ref>Feldman, Martha, and Bonnie Gordon, eds. ''The Courtesan's Arts: Cross-Cultural Perspectives''. New York: Oxford UP, USA, 2006. ISBN 0195170288 </ref>

This book sounds like a compilation of papers written more or less independently. A far more informative and thus far preferable way to write the note would be something like (imagined example):

<ref>Jo Bloggs, "''Geisha'' and ''oiran'': A double history of cross-cultural misunderstandings", in Martha Feldman and Bonnie Gordon, eds, ''The Courtesan's Arts: Cross-Cultural Perspectives'' (New York: Oxford UP, USA, 2006; ISBN 0195170288), p.37.</ref>

It seems to me that the article as a whole is too repetitive by far. Also, there are too many references to the possible or actual sexual activities of geisha. (Emphasis -- in bold -- freshly added.)

One hour 58 minutes later, Eparker3 adds a variant of my fictional example.

Well, take your pick: either (a) in correctly coming up with "A double history of cross-cultural misunderstandings" and "p.37" I somehow did a Pierre Menard, or (b) Eparker3 added bogus "sourcing" to this article.

Until I'm reassured that it was indeed (a), I invoke William of Ockham and delete the bogosity. -- Hoary (talk) 01:57, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

Phoenix7777 (mostly) and I (secondarily) have replaced fiction with fact, though it's still unpaginated and thus unsatisfactory. -- Hoary (talk) 03:04, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

I vote to remove all this bogus stuff, it's simply inaccurate and hurts Wikipedia as a whole as well as promotes Western stereotypes of Geisha. The original passage that stood long was fine before it, and we can work from there. (talk) 02:42, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

Music trivia[edit]

I've removed the following:

===Music about geisha===

Madama Butterfly is not "music about geisha", and the others seem mere trivia. -- Hoary (talk) 01:34, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

Trivia should not be added btw. Pitke (talk) 08:16, 25 January 2010 (UTC)


This article starts: "Geisha are traditional, female Japanese entertainers". Geisha are not just female. Quote from several dictionaries: 「芸者: ③舞踊、音曲などで、酒席をとりもち興を添える男性。幇間。たいこもち。男芸者。」 (Nihon Kokugo Daijiten), 「芸者: ④遊里などで、酒宴に興を添える。男芸者。太鼓持ち。幇間。」(Daijisen)

Next, it says: "In early seventeenth-century Japan (long before the word geisha was ever used)" Again wrong. It is easy enough to show usage of the word in not only the 17th century, but also the 16th and even the 15th centuries. Early citations from 『日本国語大辞典』, 『時代別国語大辞典室町時代編』、 and 『角川古語大辭典』: 広本節用集 (1475), 多聞院日記 (1574), 落葉集 (1598), 八帖花伝書 (late Muromachi), 近衛信尹書状 (c. 1565-1614), 日葡辞書 (1603-1604), 狂言六義 (1624), 虎明本狂言 (1642). (talk) 04:26, 24 January 2010 (UTC)

Thank you. Please feel free to improve the article accordingly. Just add footnotes that identify your sources.
Of course it is entirely acceptable to use sources that are in Japanese, and to describe these sources in Japanese. Here is an imagined example.
The word was used as early as 1475 (in {{nihongo2|広本節用集}}).<ref>''Kadokawa kogo daijiten'' ({{nihongo2|角川古語大辭典}}) (Tokyo: Kadokawa Shoten, 2001: ISBN 4569243325), s.v. {{nihongo2|芸者}}.</ref>
N.B. It's an imagined example. (And if you're wondering why I stress this, see a section above about bogus "sourcing".) -- Hoary (talk) 03:08, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Geisha and Japanese Women merge discussion[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
Merge completed per Brad.

Geisha and Japanese Women is a new article with multiple issues, but I believe that any beneficial parts should be merged into Geisha. Clifflandis (talk) 01:03, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

  • Don't Support merge! Geisha should have a separate reference on Wikipedia from the collective whole of Japanese women. They lead an entirely different lifestyle and came into existence as a form of entertainment away from the traditional Japanese wife. The information on two entirely different populations should not be combined.
  • Support merge. armagebedar (talk) 08:02, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Support merge. Wikipedia isn't for essays, one page is enough - unless there's a serious sub-topic that warrants a page. This one doesn't. John Smith's (talk) 20:00, 25 January 2010 (UTC)
  • Don't Support merge - Not all Japanese women are Geisha! (User:fadexoxo) 7:37, January 27,2010 fadexoxo (talkcontribs) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.
  • Don't Support merge - Geisha is a very specific career that exists in Japan and all Japanese women are NOT Geisha. They should not be combined together on the same page as this will only fuel the stereotype of Japanese women. Geisha are their own entity and these pages should remain separate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 00:11, 27 February 2010 (UTC) (talk) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.
  • Don't Support merge - This Should remain separate do to the fact that People come here to find information on specific topics and if they are all merged it will only create confusion as to which is which. People will get there facts wrong and further the misunderstanding of other cultures. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 08:07, 3 March 2010 (UTC) (talk) has made few or no other edits outside this topic.
  • Support as it currently appears to be a badly-written essay looking for a home. ···日本穣? · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 18:48, 3 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Support. Geisha and Japanese Women is an essay, but it does include some useful and sourced information. The suggestions above that "Geisha is a very specific career" that only a few women pursue is in no way contradicted by anything on that page. The useful bits should be merged to Geisha. Cnilep (talk) 19:09, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Support I haven't read it in detail, but it's addressing a subtopic about geisha. Mangoe (talk) 20:50, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Support In spite of the references the article about Jap. women is WP:Original research and should be deleted. In any case, that article is all about geisha, nothing is said there about Japanese women in general. If there is some useful information there it would need some work to sort that out and merge it to here.  Andreas  (T) 23:10, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Support Topic does not merit an article on its own. (talk) 17:06, 8 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment: Any decent Japanese dictionary will tell you that geisha may be either male or female. For example, here or here, both #4. In fact, there seems to be topic above about this. So it seems illogical to merge Japanese women into a topic that is both male and female. (talk) 05:25, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
    • I think you misunderstand. There's no discussion of merging anything called simply "Japanese women" into this article. What is being discussed in merging the article "Geisha and Japanese Women" into this article. This is very logical when viewed in that light. ···日本穣? · 投稿 · Talk to Nihonjoe 08:57, 9 March 2010 (UTC)
  • Comment:Tricky, but I don't think G&J-Women needs an article. Could be convinced though, but maybe better if the issues raised in that article could be addressed in this one. RomaC (talk) 02:31, 13 April 2010 (UTC)
  • I've been bold and re-directed the other article to this page - useful content can be moved here. This discussion has dragged on for nearly three months, it was time it was moved to a conclusion. I propose that the result is merge, given that the only objections were by people just here to protest. John Smith's (talk) 22:03, 20 April 2010 (UTC)
    • I agree that there seems to be a consensus to merge, but as we both argued for merger and as there are some arguments on the other side, it's probably best to let an uninvolved editor make that call. I will ask for a third opinion. We can then carry out the merge (if a third editor agrees) and then removed the merger template. Cnilep (talk) 19:04, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

Comment from an uninvolved editor: It appears that all those who voted against the merge believed that the proposal was to merge "Geisha" with "Japanese women" (which is not an article). Instead, the proposal is to merge the essay Geisha and Japanese Women into the Geisha article. Based on how I read this discussion, there has been no real opposition to the merge. I will redirect the Geisha and Japanese Women article here and ask that all the relevant, properly sourced material be added into this article. Brad 19:16, 22 April 2010 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

I suggest reading memoires of a geisha, it pretty much gives you the proper feel of a geisha's life. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:22, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

Oiran and Tayuu[edit]

Would it be possible to mention Oiran/Tayuu in this article, particularly in Origins? Oiran/Tayuu were essentially counterparts to Geisha with their own dances and instrument performances, only they rose to their status through prostitution. Their jobs were more focused on sexual aspects until the prostitution ban.

This may be where the Western misconceptions about Geisha come from. Kat33auS (talk) 06:08, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

geisha wig?[edit]

So geiko use their hair, while geisha use a wig? Is there a special name for this wig? I've been trying to fing more info but to no avail. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:01, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

After some searching I've found the wig is called Katsura (wig). Han-Katsura is a half wig won by maiko. There are Zen-Katsura which are whole wigs. Not sure if half wigs are only used by by maiko while whole wigs are used by geiko. Tsumik (talk) 04:31, 29 April 2010 (UTC)

Ummmm....katsura is just the Japanese word for wig, and has nothing to do with geisha in particular. An old man using a toupe to cover his bald spot is wearing a "katsura" as well. MightyAtom (talk) 22:03, 30 April 2010 (UTC)

There is actually no difference between geiko and geisha - it's a regional dialect issue. Geiko is more commonly used in Kyoto, and geisha is more commonly used in Tokyo. [1] Additionally, the difference between han-katsura and zen-katsura is one of coverage. The han-katsura only covers the back half of the head, and the wearer's hair is arranged to form a seamless transition between natural hair and wig. The zen-katsura covers the whole head, and typically results in a less natural-looking hairline, but may be more suitable for those with shorter hair. -Etoile (talk) 20:07, 13 June 2010 (UTC)


I'm a bit concerned about the the edits made by on Jan 25, 2010. That was a huge amount of text that suddenly materialized. I've been able to verify that at least some of it was lifted word-for-word from the references. Djd sd (talk) 07:57, 30 March 2010 (UTC)

If you're able to see what has been lifted, can you change that? John Smith's (talk) 10:31, 1 April 2010 (UTC)


I would change it myself but I do not consider myself qualified enough on this subject to contribute to the article. However the section "Female Dominance in Geisha..." et al section seems very NPOV. An encyclopedia article should be in neutral tone, whereas the mentioned section seems to glorify the geisha profession and lifestyle rather than stick purely to a matter of fact standard. Does anyone agree with me on my observation? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:42, 27 May 2010 (UTC)

The whole article seems to have somewhat of a defensive tone, and I suspect the real situation on the Geisha vs. Prostitute debate is a bit more muddled than the article would lead one to believe. (talk) 00:17, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Quick clarification[edit]

The maiko Mamechiho in the Gion district of Kyoto. Notice the green pin on the mid-left called tsunagi-dango: this identifies her as a maiko of Gion kobu.

There's a lot of green stuff in her hair and I'm not exactly sure where I should be looking. "Notice the green pin on the mid-left": is that her mid-left? the mid-left of the picture? I suppose I'm also confused as to what exactly a "pin" is, is it that plant growing on her head or the small circle of beads? I've only ever seen western hairpins which are used solely to lock hair in place.

I went to the image's info and it said "The style of the lipstick shows that she is still a novice. The green hair accessory features willow for June." which seems to suggest to me that it's the lipstick, not the hair accessory that suggests she is a novice. Did the editor make a mistake, or does the editor know more about this and also knows that the green pin indicates she's a maiko as well? I realize I might just be getting easily confused over something that might appear obvious to others, but could someone who knows about this explain it to me? Thanks.Wikiposter0123 (talk) 06:23, 20 August 2010 (UTC)

And why does she have a rubber ducky in her hair? She looks like she's got a sense of humour maybe that's it. hypotaxis (talk) 06:58, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

That would be the round ornament on the left of the photo, i.e: her right, the one that looks like a lot of little balls in a circle. Tsunagi-dango means, roughly, connected dumplings.
Her lipstick marks her as a novice because only the lower lip is painted. The long hair ornaments also mark her as a young novice, because hair ornaments become less flashy with age and rank. As for the rubber ducky... who knows. It must be a joke, but it goes with the springy theme I suppose. Exploding Boy (talk) 07:15, 21 August 2010 (UTC)
Thank you. :)Wikiposter0123 (talk) 21:13, 21 August 2010 (UTC)

It's what you call the "small circle of beads" that's important here. If you google "祇園 提灯" (Gion lantern) you should find images of lanterns that are used in the Gion district. Painted on those lanterns is a pattern that looks a lot like the pin that's called tsunagi-dango. (talk) 15:17, 4 January 2016 (UTC)

Criticism of article as currently drafted[edit]

The article as a whole is rather repetitive. Also, there is too much stuff on geisha's love lives, possible or actual. And using a work of fiction as source material is hardly satisfactory. Smilesofasummernight (talk) 21:16, 13 September 2010 (UTC)

Could you assist by pointing to the problem areas? Thanks. John Smith's (talk) 20:56, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

Ukrainian geisha[edit]

In the Anjo geisha Komako's okiya a Ukrainian geisha had debuted. Her nationality is discussed here (an Ichikoma worker's blog). Please add it :) I am not an English native as you can see xD so I am afraid to write something wrong. (talk) 05:31, 26 October 2010 (UTC)

I'm afraid that a blog like that isn't admissible as a source. You would need a reliable news article to confirm it. John Smith's (talk) 07:21, 26 October 2010 (UTC)
There is a reference on the site of that geisha house (okiya). Of course, no explorers had included this fact in publications so far. Is there some way to add this to the page? (talk) 08:02, 2 November 2010 (UTC) [2]
I've got it: yppie. Kf8 (talk) 20:09, 23 March 2012 (UTC)


A few thoughts on photos for this article, and suggested guidelines.

Firstly, three common issues with photos:

  • The popular conception of geisha is generally the colorful maiko, not the more somberly attired mature geisha.
  • The vast majority of people dressed as geisha (generally as maiko) are not authentic professional geisha, but rather are tourists dressed as maiko.
  • Many photos are of static geisha, not engaged in any activity.

There is nothing per se wrong with any of these points, but they can be misleading. I would suggest that one:

  • Clarify the distinction between maiko (apprentice) and full-fledged geisha, and
    • do not over-represent maiko.
  • Do not falsely represent tourists as professional geisha, and
    • strive to use professional geisha, rather than tourists; ideally the photographer should give some evidence or indication as to why the pictured geisha is authentic.
  • Use action shots, showing activities, and not over-representing static shots.

The photos on the current page are ok overall, and some are very good indeed. However, some additional ones could help:

  • More photos of mature geisha (somber clothes, no white face makeup); currently mostly maiko or made-up geisha.
  • More action photos of activities.
  • Detail pictures, showing details of attire (e.g., makeup).
  • Contrasting/comparison shots or composites, showing seniority differences especially.

The kinds of photos I have in mind are ones such as these:

Do these sound like reasonable guidelines?

Hope these help, and please contribute additional photos to make the article even better!

—Nils von Barth (nbarth) (talk) 11:36, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

Hi! I recently uploaded some nice photos of geisha that could show differences between them and maiko :) Hope it'll help.

Kf8 (talk) 19:32, 7 May 2011 (UTC)

Geisha and prostitution[edit]

  • One of the sources in the section (Note 2) is a student paper that lacks an index of its references. Does this really constitute an acceptable citation? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:16, 3 November 2013 (UTC)

Cut from article:

  • Around the world, the term geisha has many different connotations; some western countries think that geishas are high-class prostitutes or escorts. Even some Japanese citizens see geisha in that way because of the lower class geisha who do sell their bodies and work as prostitutes. The biggest misconception of geisha is that they have sex with their customers; the most exclusive modern geisha do not.

There are some problems with the article:

  1. It has not been sufficiently clarified that some prostitutes looked like geisha to US servicemen after World War II.
  2. The idea that there are "classes" of geisha, and that some "lower class geisha" are indeed prostitutes.
  3. The clash between the Japanese refusal to concede that some or all geisha do (or did) engage in some amount of prostitution.

If I recall correctly, there was a time when all geisha were required to engage in an initial session of prostitution, "giving up their virginity" to a customer. Would it be a violation of WP:OR to say that selling one's virginity = engaging in prostitution? (It wasn't rape, money changed hands, and sex occurred.) If so, then do I actually have to dredge up a source that says:

  • All geisha are (former) prostitutes

Or one that says:

  • Japanese sociologists and historians all concede that for a maiko to become a geisha, she must sell her virginity to a man who has sex with her for money, but
  • These source all deny (A) that this is an act of prostitution and (B) that this means that a geisha is a prostitute or even a former prostitute

I'm not sure what the Wikipedia policy is on calling a spade a spade, but it's well known that modern Japanese still downplay (not to say censor) the comfort women episode (forced prostitution of foreign slave women in WW II), and the rape of Nanking genocide incident. --Uncle Ed (talk) 17:51, 26 July 2011 (UTC)

Basically, many years ago geisha did sell sex. Now they don't. I think worrying about what people do and don't think is somewhat irrelevant, unless we get very good sources to explain the perception. John Smith's (talk) 17:54, 26 July 2011 (UTC)
If what people think is irrelevant, then I should go ahead and call mizuage an act of prostitution? --Uncle Ed (talk) 18:00, 26 July 2011 (UTC)
It's slightly more complicated than an act of prostitution (I'd need to read up on it). I did say "somewhat irrelevant" as well. John Smith's (talk) 20:59, 26 July 2011 (UTC)
It also makes them sound like all houses did this, which is not true. Remember that the upper echelon of the Japanese Prostitutes were Oiran and Tayuu, not Geisha, and that only houses of shady tendencies would/probably did sell a Maiko's virginity. The law's that ended this came about in the 1950s and many of what we know of Geisha are the "Gee-sha" Girls that GI's spoke of. These were done by brothels because it was easier for the Americans to get, but they were never true Geisha. This definition of mizuage is speculative information at best since there is really no records of if it did or didn't happen. There are several conflicting sources so I really would take this information with a grain of salt and add something about it being speculated. — Preceding unsigned comment added by North.star13 (talkcontribs) 17:35, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

Mizuage and Iwasaki[edit]

I noticed that the lead line on this cites Iwasaki, but I'm confused as I can't recall her book saying that mizuage was the sale of virginity. I don't have the book to hand, but this article says:

Q: But their virginity isn’t offered in exchange for that help?
A: That is never on the table.

Can someone go to the page references in Iwasaki's book and cut-and-paste the text where she confirms mizuage was the sale of a maiko's virginity? John Smith's (talk) 20:34, 17 October 2011 (UTC)


The section should be shortened considarably and the bulk of information should be in the Mizuage article. As it is, the section is as long as the article, which consltitutes a WP:content fork, which is not permissible.  Andreas  (T) 21:24, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

  • rv, you're suggesting maiko still have to have their virginity taken away
    That was not what I intended. As far as I know, when prostitution was banned in the mid-twentieth century, the forcing of maiko to have sex with a customer ended too. Please help me phrase this properly.
I only intended to say that in the previous several centuries of geisha training, this ritual (?) act of prostitution was indeed a requirement. Please help me to clarify whether it ended at the end of Meiji or Edo periods. --Uncle Ed (talk) 01:35, 29 July 2012 (UTC)
The problem is that it's very difficult to say that mizuage was mandatory. It wasn't a legal requirement, it was a custom that many followed. How can anyone say that every maiko was forced to do it? John Smith's (talk) 08:51, 29 July 2012 (UTC)

"the first Caucasian to become a full-fledged geisha"[edit]

I have just now reverted a very new edit that caused the page to read:

She is the first Caucasian to become a full-fledged geisha<ref name="independent">{{cite news|url=|title=Turning Japanese: the first foreign geisha|date=2008-01-24|accessdate=2009-06-02|publisher=[[The Independent]] | location=London}}</ref><ref name="telegraph">{{cite news |url=|title=Westerner inducted into mysteries of geisha|last=Ryall|first=Julian|date=2008-01-09|publisher=[[The Daily Telegraph|]]|accessdate=2009-06-02 | location=London}}</ref>

The new edit makes no claim to have accessed either "source" since 2009. Neither source says what it's described as saying. Instead, the author of the first says she has just become what she says is the first non-Japanese in 400 years to debut as a geisha and the author of the second quotes her as calling herself the first Western geisha in Japan.

The edit I reverted made one other change, but since this half of it turned out to have spurious sourcing, I didn't bother to examine that other half; I just reverted wholesale. -- Hoary (talk) 12:27, 13 July 2012 (UTC)

I'm sorry Hoary for my negligence. This is a new source that says that she is the first caucasian to be a geisha. and this other source also mentions that she is the "the only white woman to ever become a full-fledged geisha in Japan" hopefully you are convinced. please say so if you are convinced so that i can rewrite my edit again with more accuracy this time. cheers — Preceding unsigned comment added by Anonymouslyanonymous001 (talkcontribs) 00:32, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
And I'm sorry that I may have seemed snappy (like the external examiner you wouldn't want to have check your PhD thesis). Well, let's look at your two new sources. Arudou (the author) knows something about Japan, and calls her the "first-ever white geisha" and "first Caucasian geisha". That's good. It could be better, in that it could be an article about geisha, and even better an article that levelheadedly compares similar claims. But I suppose it will do for now. The second source is unsigned (though it seems to be by one Lisa Ling) and it's from a source that neither has anything much to do with Japan nor is academic. I'd drop it. ¶ I wonder if there's any more scholarly commentary. Disappointingly, and rather surprisingly, there's nothing within this magazine coverage that looks likely to be at all probing. But there is this entry within this book; Cybriwsky is certainly a knowledgable writer. -- Hoary (talk) 01:13, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
No, it's my fault, Hoary to edit without sufficient knowledge. Anyway, I have edited it again, citing more sources this time. Hopefully they are satisfactory. Although I still don't really understand the reference name and ref group as well as the web access date... — Preceding unsigned comment added by Anonymouslyanonymous001 (talkcontribs) 02:17, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
I've removed Arudou; his articles in JT are opinion pieces, and as such do not qualify as reliable sources. Similarly, he's not an expert in Japanese history or the subject of geisha, and as such his opinion wouldn't be important enough to include. No comment on the rest of the info. Qwyrxian (talk) 03:33, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
Aren't you being a bit heavy on Arudou here? His articles are indeed opinion pieces, but this seems to be a simple assertion of fact. Plus I'd hope that JT regards his factual statements on this kind of thing to be generally correct, before employing him. -- Hoary (talk) 04:29, 14 July 2012 (UTC)
Per WP:RS, opinion articles are never reliable sources for statements of fact unless the writer is a known expert in the field, and even then we have to be careful. Furthermore, I've seen no evidence that JT fact checks Arudou at all. I would consider Arudou's articles in JT to be reliable only about Arudou's own life and things he has personally experienced, given that he doesn't really have expertise (in a Wikipedia sense) in anything. Qwyrxian (talk) 08:16, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

[bouncing back to the left] Then how about Cybriwsky? I suppose that one could say that his expertise is in urban design/decay/regeneration (etc), and not in anything particularly geisha-related; also, his book is published by Scarecrow, a serious publisher of good stuff but occasionally also of some rather ho-hum books. (Then again, I've occasionally encountered the sloppiest books from the most prestigious of university presses.) ¶ If I may be permitted a slight digression: I'm puzzled by the percentage of the interest in geisha that goes to the tiny percentage who aren't Japanese. To me, this particular geisha is indeed more than averagely interesting (because she's a lot more than averagely outgoing; and, conveniently, is so in English), but she won't be particularly interesting until she's published her (more or less academic) book about the experience. -- Hoary (talk) 23:48, 14 July 2012 (UTC)

Can I just throw something in there? I'm wondering if there's a slight case of double standards in the article. Graham is reported to have been the first fully-fledged Caucasian geisha, but Dalby is the first Caucasian woman known to have worked as a geisha. To be honest, I'm not sure that "worked as a geisha" is sufficiently caveated or explained to avoid uninformed readers thinking she was a geisha. John Smith's (talk) 16:02, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

This whole mess started because Graham threw a hissy fit over the much clearer "Dalby was the first Caucasian geisha". Since that would take a lot of wind out of her PR sails, we had to twist it and look sideways at it and take its inverse so that it's still true, but makes some kind of allowance for the results of Graham's press-release-spamming activities. You're right, it would be better to go with the much more straightforward "Dalby was the first Caucasian geisha but Graham claims to be the first Caucasian geisha". Your Lord and Master (talk) 06:13, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm afraid that I don't agree that Dalby was the first Caucasian geisha, regardless of what Graham has to say about the matter. I remember discussing the matter many years ago on a different website, before Graham became well known. However the dispute first arose doesn't matter too much - the issue is that it has been highlighted. John Smith's (talk) 06:49, 23 July 2012 (UTC)
For clarity my first comment was referring to what was in the article already (using the bolding to highlight the different standards being applied), not what my own view of the situation was. John Smith's (talk) 12:10, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

(outdent) Can we cut the Gordian knot here by eliminating all the "first claims", and simply refer to Dalby and the others as examples? Mangoe (talk) 15:37, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

One problem with your edit is that it still says Dalby "worked.... as a geisha". Could it not say something like "entertained at geisha parties"? This is factually true, she did entertain at parties. John Smith's (talk) 21:33, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

Guys, can we just ignore the IP editor(s) and actually agree on some text? John Smith's (talk) 07:09, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

How about something like this? "A small number of non-Japanese have entered the world of geishas to work as such, with varying degrees of claims of authenticity. Liza Dalby started her geisha related research in XXXX, ending up as entertaining guests alongside with geishas proper for [some years]. Fiona Graham entered similarly to do research, but [debuted? Conventionally?] and worked under [the hanamachi office/whatsitsname] until [carefully phrased brief mention of the incident (kicked out/"became independet")] . Graham represents herself in public as the first Caucasian geisha. [Name of Ibu, "the Ukrainan"] began her career as [rank/position] without academic interests and debuted as a geisha in YYYY."

Of course we Should have some paragraphs on the actual thing, as in mentioning some past big names and influetial sister lines and whatnot. Proportionally it's silly to go into such detail on such a minor topic when there are centuries of tradition to cover, but I'm afraid this is a controversial topic which needs attention and needs to be worked out. --Pitke (talk) 10:11, 27 July 2012 (UTC)

Work and pay[edit]

I have no problem with avoiding the claim that Dalby was employed as a geisha; perhaps it would be clearer to state that she was never a formal member of the association. Work without pay, however, is still work, and I believe that if you read the passages in her book, the okasans in the house did use the word "work" to describe what she did. She was paid to the extent that she received tips, in any case, and she did perform the same, well, work that true geishas present performed. The statement that she "participated as an observer" is absolutely untrue. Mangoe (talk) 17:33, 1 August 2012 (UTC)

Isn't there an issue of using her own publication to cite what she did and did not do? John Smith's (talk) 20:56, 1 August 2012 (UTC)
Not as long as we remember to say "in her [publication] Dalby tells that she..." and such. Pitke (talk) 12:47, 25 August 2012 (UTC)
(to John) No, because her book is a reliable source, much like you claim newspaper articles that are just rewords of Graham's press releases are reliable sources. Please be consistent. Your Lord and Master (talk) 23:19, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

I added to the article that she did not become a geisha as was the case(while still keeping the word 'work'), just to make it clearer. Anonymouslyanonymous001 (talk) 03:05, 11 September 2012 (UTC)

As you well know, tha's not what a number of the sources say. Qwyrxian (talk) 02:19, 11 September 2012 (UTC)

A couple things[edit]

The section on Geisha and prostitution, and the subsection on danna, downplays the extent to which many geisha were essentially prostitutes. I may be somewhat biased after reading and having written the vast majority of our article on Autobiography of a Geisha, but it seems like after several paragraphs separating geisha and prostitutes we could include more than a couple sentences amounting to "despite all that, a few onsen geisha blurred the line". I'm not sure how to expand on that (if I did, I'd just do it myself), but the section on it seems inadequate, as there were a lot of onsen geisha who were essentially glorified prostitutes and not only engaged in selling sex but also had a fairly detailed system for doing so (the details on this are in Autobiography of a Geisha, I can pull them up if people think they're worth considering). Especially, the part under danna about "intimacy never being a reward" may be the case today, but a perusal of Masuda Sayo shows that was not only untrue, but a regular occurrence. Thoughts/suggestions would be welcome. The Blade of the Northern Lights (話して下さい) 17:20, 17 September 2012 (UTC)

I think the article as written has an overall tone of "Geisha aren't prostitutes! No, really, they're not!" The sections describing the history as well as the prostitution section, should be enough to address the issue, yet peppered throughout the rest of the article are constant renditions of this theme. It would be a more encyclopedic work if these were removed. As is, it seems like a persuasive essay written to prove the difference. I think any integration of your ideas could keep this in mind during editing. (talk) 05:12, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
Even if we accept that autobiography as a case study (and not a work of fiction or semi-fiction), it still describes a single case and cannot be used to source claims that prostitution has been wide-spread or established. --Pitke (talk) 10:01, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
Perhaps, but we could definitely spend a little more time pointing out that this existed. For one, no one has ever seriously disputed her writing. Two, it was the only work about the real life of geisha for 30+ years, meaning it's all we have to go on for that time period. Finally, she described the system in great detail and talked about how it was applied all throughout her own and other hanamachi, which is more than just a single case. The work was intended, in part, to explain how the entire onsen geisha system worked, and it indeed involved a lot of glorified (if you could call it that) prostitution. The current article is too skewed towards what says, and part of the problem is that it never addresses why, after 1872, people might have thought of them as prostitutes in the first place; the reputation of onsen geisha is a substantial part of that. The Blade of the Northern Lights (話して下さい) 19:17, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

Plagiarism of Wikipedia, not by Wikipedia[edit]

In case anyone's wondering, What is a geisha? is plagiarising Wikipedia, rather than the other way around. You can see from an old edit here which shows an older version of the text that has differences compared to the current version, and the version in the "What is a geisha?" page. Andrew Grimm (talk) 12:30, 8 December 2012 (UTC)

Biased section removed[edit]

Text of removed section:

A tayū, high-ranked courtesan
There are many misconceptions over what a geisha truly is because of the tumultuous past of artisans, prostitutes, and pleasure quarters in Japan. "The world of the geisha, the "flower and willow" world, are very separate societies that are shrouded in mystery. The myths that have been created by outsiders about the environment and the lifestyle of the geisha world have, for the most part, been able to grow unchecked. And because it is a very private, elite world, most people would be uncomfortable speaking about it".[1]
Prostitution was legal in Japan until 1958, which is another reason that people may be misinformed about geishas not offering sex to customers.[2] The two became especially confused after many of the professional prostitutes who catered to the occupying soldiers after World War II styled themselves as "geisha"; at a time when few true geisha were able to work, the counterfeit geisha usurped the meaning of the word in the eyes of many foreigners.[3]

I moved this section here for possible repairs. It is biased. It preemptively labels the POV that there is a connection between geisha and prostitution as a misconception.

Our NPOV policy requires us to describe all points of view, not just one which is favorable to one country's self-concept. We also have articles on the Comfort Women used as sex slaves in WWII, as well as the rape of Nanking, two historical incidents from Japanese history which to this day get little or no mention in Japanese history textbooks for schoolchildren (these articles should be neutral too).

We should neither engage in Japan-bashing nor in whitewashing. I want to see a neutral description of this controversy. --Uncle Ed (talk) 00:04, 20 May 2013 (UTC)

Where are you going with this? There's considerable explanation of the history of the relationship in Dalby. Mangoe (talk) 02:28, 20 May 2013 (UTC)


  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference Wieder was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Cite error: The named reference Dalby_1998 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  3. ^ Busch, N. L. (1947-03-17). "Tokyo Geisha". Life: 61. Girls to whom it ["geisha"] applies only as a euphemism copy the manners and appearance of real geisha 


What about kamuro? From what I've seen in web searches, I can't tell whether this term refers to a young assistant, apprentice, or maybe even offspring of a geisha, oiran, or prostitute. (Or maybe it's just a certain hairstyle!) Can someone provide the correct meaning and add an appropriate description to commons:Category:Kamuro (and check that the images in that category are correctly categorized)? If you want even more fun, you can go through the categories commons:Category:Geisha and commons:Category:Oiran, and move any images that are in the wrong category. - dcljr (talk) 03:02, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

Kamuro/kaburo has three definitions. Bald-headed, a children's hairstyle, and a young girl (about age 6 to 14) assistant, apprentice of oiran or high-ranked prostitute like Tayū, not of geisha, in Edo period. See [3], [4], and [5]. Please correct it. My en is not good for the job. Oda Mari (talk) 10:04, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

Hair (traditional way)[edit]

This is what I've been missing throughout in the whole (nonetheless good) article. I watched this in a documentary many years ago, and, TBH it was pretty hard stuff. There are still parts in Japan (probably chiefly rural regions) where the real original geisha culture is maintained up to this day. And the "hairdresser" who made the geisha's hair gave me an impression on TV how PAINFUL this is for the girls and for the women. To achieve that old traditional "helmet-like" hairstyle, hair is pulled SO HARD that the girls respectively women really have to press their teeth together to sustain the pain. It must feel as if the skin is about to be pulled from their heads. The "sample" geisha in the documentary even confirmed the pain she had to go through in her early geisha years, and that it took quite a time until she did no longer feel it so strong (but she said she can still feel the high tension every time). Well, I think that this information may do good for the article. Because no matter how beautiful it looks in the end, to get there is a very painful process. -andy (talk) 02:44, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

Edits by SPAs to the modern geisha section[edit]

One particular no-longer-affiliated geisha is very concerned with her image on Wikipedia and regularly drops in to "correct" the record so that it recognizes only her as the one true Caucasian geisha. I have reverted the edit regarding Ibu for two reasons: one, it deliberately ambiguously reported that Ibu was working in 2012, and did not confirm nor deny her present working status; and two, the source for the edit was Graham's own web site, the relevant page thereof containing a single sentence which (WP:DUCK) appears to have been created for the sole purpose of justifying "IBU NOT WORKING" in this article. The funny thing is, the way that sentence is written, one could infer that Graham herself has quit, and use that as justification for changing her own article to "Sayuki has quit". Tenaqzn'f Fbvyrq Gubat (talk) 09:54, 25 November 2014 (UTC)

ThingsAsian and the "prostitute" debate[edit]

Is this a reliable website? I've never heard of it, and the 2007 article has no author. I don't see how it really does anything for the article. I think in the interests of trying to rely on reliable, well-known resources, it would be best to delete references to it. Any thoughts? John Smith's (talk) 18:00, 10 April 2015 (UTC)

  • Agree --DAJF (talk) 02:54, 11 April 2015 (UTC)
Ok, I've deleted the reference and tried to make the other quotes stand out more by putting them in italics. More than happy for someone to rearrange the layout. John Smith's (talk) 11:10, 12 April 2015 (UTC)

Which way around the obi goes, and referencing roulette[edit]

In this edit, User:Asuttles23 adds, inter alia:

The easiest way to tell a geisha from a prostitute is to distinguish where they tie their obi. Prostitutes tie their obi in the front as it is easy for them to take on and off without having someone else to tie it for them. In comparison, geisha tie their obi in the back

This strikes me as an extraordinary assertion, probably based on a simplistic account of the situation well over a century ago.

Asuttles23 attributes it to Eliza Knight, "The History and Culture of Japanese Geisha", on a website titled I hadn't heard of either the author or the website, but the web page obligingly links the author's name to this page, where we read:

I write historical romance, historical fiction and historical articles. My favorite time periods are the medeival [sic] and regency eras.

Nothing in that about sociology, social history, history, Japanology, etc.

The material seemed very dodgy, so -- like User:DAJF before me -- I removed it.

Oh, hello -- what DAJF removed was attributed not to Ms Knight but instead to "". This is a very odd web page, uncredited, titled "Geisha", and within the website of a company that describes itself as follows:

Sleeping Samurai is a company dedicated to bringing a Unique, High Quality, Dependable and Respectful Interactive Entertainment Experience to events and attendees throughout the US!

But let's return to the present. The indefatigable Asuttles23 has just readded (inter alia) the following:

The easiest way to tell a geisha from a prostitute is to distinguish where they tie their obi. Prostitutes tie their obi in the front as it is easy for them to take on and off without having someone else to tie it for them. In comparison, geisha tie their obi in the back

This time, Asuttles attributes this to "Dalby, Liza. "Geisha". JSTOR. Pacific Affairs, University of British Columbia. Retrieved 16 April 2015. ". So it's "Geisha", a web page written by Liz Dalby. Except that when you click on it, you discover that (i) it's a short review by Takie Sugiyama Lebra of Geisha, a book written by Dalby; and (ii) Sugiyama Lebra does not mention obi.

I get the impression that Asuttles23 is so fond of this obi factoid that they'll attach any "reference" to it in the hope of making it look credible, regardless of what the "reference" actually says. But perhaps I misunderstand; if so, I'd appreciate an explanation from @Asuttles23: or somebody else.

Additionally, does Dalby write this; and if she does, then precisely where does she write it? -- Hoary (talk) 07:35, 17 April 2015 (UTC)


I’ve found some CC videos to add to geisha-themed articles:

I don’t know which one is better for this article, so any comments and suggestions are welcome. — Le Loi 00:32, 7 September 2015 (UTC)

Geisha districts today[edit]

Might it be worth including a bit about the districts across Japan where geisha/geiko/maiko are still active today? According to this January 2016 performance in Kyoto, there seem to be at least 10 districts today.

  • Gion Kobu (Kyoto)
  • Miyagawa-cho (Kyoto)
  • Ponto-cho (Kyoto)
  • Kamishichiken (Kyoto)
  • Gion Higashi (Kyoto)
  • Shinbashi (Tokyo)
  • three Chayagai (Kanazawa)
  • Hakata Kenban (Fukuoka)

This article also lists Asakusa and Kagurazaka in Tokyo, bringing the total to 12, but I'm not sure if this is complete whatsoever. (talk) 15:26, 4 January 2016 (UTC)

File:Geiko Kimiha.jpg to appear as POTD soon[edit]

Hello! This is a note to let the editors of this article know that File:Geiko Kimiha.jpg will be appearing as picture of the day on July 3, 2016. You can view and edit the POTD blurb at Template:POTD/2016-07-03. If this article needs any attention or maintenance, it would be preferable if that could be done before its appearance on the Main Page. — Chris Woodrich (talk) 01:22, 18 June 2016 (UTC)

Profile of Kimiha, a geisha from Miyagawa-chō, a hanamachi or geisha district in Kyoto. She is wearing a formal black kimono and a Shimada-styled nihongami wig. Her obi is tied in the "taiko" style. These details distinguish her from an apprentice, or maiko. Geisha are traditional Japanese female entertainers who act as hostesses and perform classical music, dance, games and conversation, mainly to entertain male customers.Photograph: JPNEX

Fiona Graham sockpuppets are back...[edit]

...with the regular modus operandi: create a new account, get a few edits under the belt, then start editing editing editing the Fiona Graham and Geisha articles with the following aims:

  • Remove any mention of her being expelled, or adding a bunch of blogspam/unfiltered quotes from Graham herself and presenting them as disinterested/objecting journalism
  • Remove any mention of other foreign-born geisha (they exist, much as she wishes they didn't; Graham is not the only foreign-born geisha)
  • Stress how he's apparently still a real geisha even though she isn't recognised as one (and it's debatable whether she ever was, given the Asakusa Association's description of her getting "special dispensation" as part of her studies

We can soon expect to see the user in question report me, this article, the Fiona Graham article, or even user DAJF (even though he's not involved right now) to the Administrator's Noticeboard, crying about how we're all just meanies attacking the FIRST FOREIGN GEISHA. Please refer to Talk:Fiona Graham archives for more info when the fecal matter inevitably contacts the air distribution system. Tenaqzn'f Fbvyrq Gubat (talk) 13:49, 10 July 2016 (UTC) edit: Also she's wrong about the 10-year rule. Many people get permanent residency after five years (myself, for example). Tenaqzn'f Fbvyrq Gubat (talk) 13:51, 10 July 2016 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified one external link on Geisha. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 21:20, 8 January 2017 (UTC)

Accuracy Dispute[edit]

The article serving as the source makes no mention of the fact that she was kicked out. She claimed that she wasn't expelled, but left willingly as the hanamachi elders weren't going to allow her to open her own okiya due to being a foreigner. I'm not going to argue with that because I don't know both sides of the situation--I just placed the dispute tag because if you're going to claim she was kicked out, you need an article actually saying that she was kicked out, not claiming that she was and then not backing up the claim.

P.S.: I'm not a sock puppet...I had no idea there was a problem with Fiona's fans until I got here to explain my reasoning for the tag. The only change I made besides the tag was to add that Kimicho is from St. Louis, which I discovered while poking around after seeing her in a "Rachel and Jun" video. 2602:301:779A:FC0:64B6:621A:46A:4DE6 (talk) 04:41, 27 May 2017 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just modified 4 external links on Geisha. Please take a moment to review my edit. If you have any questions, or need the bot to ignore the links, or the page altogether, please visit this simple FaQ for additional information. I made the following changes:

When you have finished reviewing my changes, you may follow the instructions on the template below to fix any issues with the URLs.

You may set the |checked=, on this template, to true or failed to let other editors know you reviewed the change. If you find any errors, please use the tools below to fix them or call an editor by setting |needhelp= to your help request.

  • If you have discovered URLs which were erroneously considered dead by the bot, you can report them with this tool.
  • If you found an error with any archives or the URLs themselves, you can fix them with this tool.

If you are unable to use these tools, you may set |needhelp=<your help request> on this template to request help from an experienced user. Please include details about your problem, to help other editors.

Cheers.—InternetArchiveBot (Report bug) 06:43, 12 October 2017 (UTC)