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Chishō Takaoka (高岡 智照 April 22, 1896 – October 22, 1995) was a geisha in Shinbashi who then became a nun in Kyoto. Her stage name was Chiyoha (千代葉) or Yōha (照葉), and her real name was Tatsuko Takaoka (高岡たつ子). She became famous for her beauty and for the incident in which she chopped off one of her fingers out of duty (義理, giri) to her lover. She was also a popular model featured on postcards and became known internationally as the "Nine Fingered Geisha". The heroine of Jakucho Setouchi's novel, Nyotoku (女徳), was inspired by her.


Girlhood (in Osaka)[edit]

Chishō was born in 1896 in Nara Prefecture, but her birth certificate was registered at Osaka city hall. Her father was a blacksmith but was also an alcoholic. Chishō's mother, Tsuru, died when she was two years old. However, some people said that Tsuru ran away from home. She was brought up by her grandmother, and began to work in her aunt's tea parlor as a waitress when she was seven years old. At the age of 12, her father lied to her and sold her into slavery, sending her to Oume Ttujii (辻井お梅), fancy woman of Onoe Kikugorō V (尾上菊五郎 (5代目)).[1] At 14 years old, she was given 250 yen to become the daughter of Kagaya, Kashi zashiki (貸座敷),[2] and debuted with the stage name Yashiyo (千千代). Her unique beauty helped her gain popularity and she became a mistress of the chairman of Ōsaka stock exchange transaction. At 15 years old, she got emotionally involved with Otomine (音峰), the famous playboy and clothing vender who lived in Higashi-ward Kita hisahōchō (北久宝寺町). Chishō eloped with him to Beppu Onsen. When Otomine found a picture of kabuki, actor, in her hand mirror, he became jealous and broke up with her. To convey her faithfulness to Otomine, she cut off her pinky with a razor and brought it to him.

It was also said that when Otomine was trying to cure his arthritis at the Beppu spa, she came over to propose love suicide to him, which then was refused by Otamine. After the rejection, she gave her own finger to prove her love for him.[1]

  1. ^ a b 『 女、女、女』 小野賢一郎著 (興成館, 1915)(written in Japanese)
  2. ^ Rental room for Meeting.