Fukagawa Geisha History – pre Meiji

Fukagawa Geisha History – pre Meiji

From the Edo period, at first, geisha were all men but not women. During the mid-1700s, male geisha were hired to be entertainers for the parties in the Yoshiwara and somewhere else. However, later female entertainers started feeling they should be geisha too when they realized how popular male geisha was. So in 1751, the first female geisha appeared in Kyoto and then suddenly the number of female geisha largely increased.

But what is different from the image we have now for geisha, geisha in Fukagawa at first were more manly like wearing in haori overcoats or having male professional names. That’s why Fukagawa geisha named haori geisha or tatsumi geisha. Very fast, women geisha took over the male geisha. Geisha house were proliferated through Edo and other cities.

There were many rules for geisha. Similar with those of prostitutes, geisha were controlled when they signed the contracts. The geisha house could transfer geisha’s ownership to other geisha houses anytime they wanted and guardians must pay for all expenses even geisha had suicide. However, different from prostitutes, geisha usually didn’t engage in sex acts but more focused on artistic skills. At that period, geisha became an official job when an official geisha register called the geisha kenban was established in 1779 by the shogunate. All geisha in the Yoshiwara were registered for that year.



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