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Geisha are traditional entertainers of Japanese arts and music specializing in dance, singing, and a variety of instruments including hand drum, shoulder drum, shamisen or Japanese flute. They train throughout their lives, are very highly skilled, and some of the older geisha are even “living national treasures”, the highest status of artist in Japan.

To debut as geisha, girls must learn specific skills, rituals and customs through a rigorous one-year training under the supervision of older geisha. In the old days, young trainees came into geisha houses as early as four years old, and were fully financially supported by the geisha house. They were under contract to work for the house until repayment of the debts incurred in the purchase of their kimono, accessories and lesson fees. They would occasionally have a sponsor or “danna” that could also help cover their debuting expenses.

yukata, geisha dance lesson
Trainee geisha Sasane at a dance lesson

However times have changed: these days girls start their training much later, and are obviously free to leave any time they want. Therefore few geisha houses are able to cover training expenses when there is no absolute guarantee that trainees will continue as adult geisha and repay their debts. Nowadays, there are no longer many affluent individuals sponsoring the arts, and the biggest challenge to raising young aspiring geisha is finding a way to finance their training in the crucial first year before they are able to work properly at banquets and earn their own way. The biggest challenge for geisha houses is how to finance young geisha during this crucial time.

The sum we are trying to raise to help the Fukagawa Geisha revive their district is divided into several stages covering accommodation and living expenses, and then lesson-related expenses, and then kimono and accessory expenses, for each geisha.
By supporting this project, you can become a “danna” or sponsor of a trainee geisha and follow her progress during the first and crucial year of her training. You will thus be making an incredibly generous and valuable contribution to preserving this beautiful tradition. We are very excited about the possibility of the traditional “danna” role, that used to be a single person sponsoring one geisha, now being shared collectively by many people around the world who deeply care about geisha culture.

geisha, fukagawa geisha, kamakura,
The newest trainee geisha (summer 2018): Asaka (left) and Tazusa (right)

Note: The geisha house itself does not get any profit whatsoever from listing the trainees on Patreon. Currently the geisha house IS the main sponsor of the trainees, and the geisha mother personally puts enormous amounts of money into training expenses. The geisha house will continue to fund any shortfall in the monthly amount we are trying to raise here, and will continue to be the largest sponsor of the trainee geisha in the meantime, and most likely for a very long to come.

Fukagawa Geisha is a project to help the Fukagawa geisha revive their district and help support the training of young geisha.The trainees work together with senior geisha from Fukagawa District at banquets.

How to use Patreon:

  • Sign up (create and account)
  • Choose your payment method
  • Click on the button ‘become a patron’ on our page and choose how much you want to pledge

Raise a Geisha. Become a Patron!