Fukagawa Geisha and why it started to be called Haori Geisha

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Fukagawa Geisha and why it started to be called Haori Geisha

by misarai723

When Tokugawa Ieyasu shifted its shogunate to Edo, Fukagawa was a shoal that a house could not be built. When Edo becomes the center of Japan population started to increase. Because of natural disasters such as repeated fires and typhoons, people needed a dump of waste materials. Also, more garbage was thrown as population increased. In this way, Fukagawa was be landfilled as a place to throw garbage.

There were also people who fled from a fire at Fukagawa. In 1657, there was a large fire called Meireki no Taika and people started to have their houses in a place which is now Kiyosumi-Shirakawa. Then the Shogunate changed town as a public enterprise. Because of this, the town transformed into a city with a lot of rivers, so that ships can go through. As it became convenient, people needed more entertainment. The dancers who gathered in okabasho or red-light district are the origin of Fukagawa geisha. Although Yoshiwara had a permission from the shogunate, Yoshiwara had too many restrictions and it was too expensive. On the other hand, Fukagawa was cheaper, so the ordinary people played at Fukagawa. Since Fukagawa was in the direction of Tatsumi, or South East in old Japan, so people call Fukagawa geisha, a Tatsumi geisha. There are various theories why Fukagawa geisha came to be called a haori geisha, nobody knows the truth.

Here is a list of the theories of reasons why Fukagawa geisha started to wear haori:

  • Geishas were originally a man’s job, who were called “taikomochi.” There was a custom that taikomochi would get a coat, or haori from a husband. According to this theory, even after women became geisha, the custom remained.
  • Although Yoshiwara was recognized by the shogunate, Yoshiwara Geisha was forbidden to wear a haori. Because of this, Tatsumi Geisha opposed Yoshiwara, so as to show the difference between them.
  • Customers made young geisha who are around 15 years old to wear male clothing and took out for boating. Even now, young geisha sometimes wear Fukagawa-mage, which is a unique male hairstyle, and go out to a festival.
    Fukagawa geisha opposed to the shogunate because the shogunate made a rule not to wear haori since it disturbs the moral.
  • Because of the strong restriction by the shogunate, there was a time when geisha did not wear haori and the name only remained as haori geisha. Fukagawa geisha had male’s name as their stage name and were bear feet even in winter.


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