Calling all geishas

A Japanese town is recruiting women willing to practice the traditional art

Calling all geishas

Sankei/Getty Images

Shimoda wants more geishas. Three decades ago, the seaside tourist resort had 200 working in its tea houses. Now only five part-time professionals remain. Worried that the traditional art was in peril, the Japanese city, located around 130 km southwest of Tokyo, is spending around $70,000 worth of government employment subsidies to recruit and train three new geishas. They want to bolster tourism as well as ensure the centuries-old skills are passed down to another generation. “I am grateful for the support,” Tsuyako Kashiwaya, a spokesperson for the city’s geisha management office, told “I hope the project will contribute to Shimoda’s revitalization.”

The successful applicants will be paid around $400 a week for six months to sing epic songs and learn classic dances, how to play musical instruments, and the delicate art of conversation. Tourists will even be allowed to observe the five-day-a-week lessons, which will take place in a historic building. After all the lessons are complete the geishas will perform regional dances and songs at cultural events. reports that a local favourite is Tojin Okichi (Okichi, mistress of a foreigner).

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