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I ' V 



THE STORY OF 



THE GEISHA GIRL 




THE NIGHTSIDE OF JAPAN 

By T. FUJIMOTO. Very fully illustrated 
in colours and half-tone. Demy 8vo. 
7s. 6d. net. 

This is a book full of interest, combining as it does an 
account of modern European life in Japan which is still 
strongly mixed up with the quaint primitive customs of 
Old Japan. The author is a native of Tokyo, with a 
knowledge of English, and he describes both town and 
peasant life with much quaintness and vivacity. 

The theatres, variety halls, streets and parks the 
Yoshiwara and the country life are all described from 
the Japanese point of view, thus giving the book a 
very special interest. 

One great feature of the volume is a number of illustra- 
tions drawn specially for it by a Japanese artist. 

The Times, in a long review, said that the author was 
most successful in suggesting the vital landscape of 
the country. It congratulates the publishers on allowing 
the manuscript to be published in the author's own 
English. 

"It is not our English, but in its reticences and 
simplifications it fits what is described as exactly as the 
Japanese style of drawing fits the national subjects." 







A GEISHA GIRL IN HER STANDING FORM. 



THE STORY OF THE 
GEISHA GIRL 



fr\if 



BY 



T. FUJIMOTO 

AUTHOR OF 
"THE NIOHTSIDB OF JAPAN 



Illustrations in colour and tone, specially executed 
byjapantu Artists. 



LONDON 

T. WERNER LAURIE, LTD. 

8 ESSEX STREET, STRAND 



SP 



4 



^v 




PREFACE 

The European gentlemen who visit Japan 
generally wish to see the geisha, who are very 
famous throughout the world as a special class 
of singing and dancing girls. 

Some of the new visitors, however, seem to 
misunderstand these girls to be equivalent to 
those in a lower kind of the female professions. 
If anybody believes them to be so, he is de- 
cidedly in a great error; on the contrary, they 
are a kind of artistes almost indispensable in 
the society of Japan, if not for ever, at least in 
the present age. 

Of course, there may be some exceptional 
groups among their circles, who are of low 
character and in base conduct, just as there 
are exceptions in all classes of human beings. 
We do not call them the true geisha girls. 

As the women in the geisha calling are 
generally young girls, they often talk of love, 
but there are no young women, throughout the 

vii 



PREFACE 

upper and lower classes, who do not embrace 
love in their bosom. 

We hope the readers of the book would 
understand the true features of our geisha girls. 

THE AUTHOR. 



CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

1/ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF CM/SNA 
V GIRLS : 

A, Down to the Age of the Kamakura 

Government (A.D. 1300). . . i 
B. Down to the Age of the Tokugawa 

^^iShogunate (A.D. 1850) . v_._i. J 4 

C. Down to the Present Time . . 23 
II. TRUE FEATURES OF GEISHA GIRLS: 

A. Dancing Girls 29 

B. Employment of Girls . . . .31 

C. Classes of Girls 31 

D. Income of Girls 32 

E. Expenses of Girls 34 

F. Characteristics of Girls 35 

G. Curses and Conjurations ... 38 

H. Spectral Traditions .... 43 

III. ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF GIRLS ... 52 

IV. A GIRL ROYALIST 6l 

ix 



CONTENTS 



CHAP. 

V. A STORY OF AN OLD WOMAN WELL EX- 

PERIENCED AS A GEISHA GIRL . .8l 
VI. TALL TALKS OF AN^ OLD GEISHA GIRL: 

A. Men liked by Geisha Girls 9 

B. Men disliked by Geisha Girls . 91 

C. Kinds of the Geisha Spree . 92 

D. Kinds of Guests classified by Geisha 

Girls ... -93 

E. Are Men of What Age most liked by 

Geisha Girls ? . . . 95 

F. The Waiting-House (or the Assigna- 

tion-House) ..... 98 

G. Learning of Geisha Girls ... 99 

VII. GEISHA GIRLS IN GENERAL. . . . IOI 

VIII. GLIMPSES OF THE GEISHA CIRCLE AT 
PRESENT : 

A. A Kitten and a Dancing Girl . . 106 
B. Sympathy of the Hostess . . . no 
C A Faithful Girl ..... 115 

D. A Girl and a Millionaire . . .121 

E. A School for Geisha Girls and 

Waitresses ..... 124 

F. The Geisha Girl's Love observed by 

a Geisha Girl ..... 126 

IX. SHINJV OR THE DOUBLE SUICIDE . .129 
APPENDIX I. SONGS ..... 136 



CONTENTS 

CHAP. PAGE 

APPENDIX II. GIRLS IN LOCAL CITIES AND 

TOWNS: 139 

A. Yokohama 141 

B. Nagoya 142 

C, Kyoto ... . 143 

D. Osaka 145 

E. Kobe* .149 

F. Miscellaneous Quarters . . . 153 



XI 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



A GEISHA GIRL IN HER STANDING FORM 

GIRLS IN PLEASURE-BOATS 

A GIRL PLAYING PUPPETS 

SHIRABY&SHI IN A BOAT .... 

A GARMENT CALLED SUIKAN AND A HEAD-, 
GEAR NAMED TAT&EBOSHI WORN BY 
SHIRABYQSHI 

A GIRL IN KATSUGI (OVERHEAD GARMENT), 

ICHIME-GASA (HAT), AND SANDALS . 
A GARMENT NAMED KOUCHIGIWD A TSUZUMI\ 

(HAND-DRUM) USED BY SHIRABYOSHI^ 
A SHIRABYOSHI ) 

MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS PLAYED BY GIRLS : ^ 
A BIWA (LUTE), A WAGON (HARP), A so 
(HARP), A snO (FLUTE), AND A FUE 
(FLUTE), A DRUM, A KOKY& (THREE- 
STRINGED FIDDLE), AND A SAMISEN 
(THREE - STRINGED GUITAR), A KAN'S 
(BELL) 

THE SHIMADA CHIGNON, A COIFFURE GENERA 
ALLY WORN BY GEISHA GIRLS THE 
BACK VIEW 

THE SHIMADA CHIGNON, A COIFFURE GENER- 
ALLY WORN BY GEISHA GIRLS - THEj 
SIDE VIEW 

A HOUSE-BOAT 

A CHOKI BOAT 



Frontispiece 
To face p. 4 



12 



16 



18 



20 



24 



Xlll 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



A DANCING GIRL 

DANCING GIRL PLAYING A TSUZUMI 

(HAND-DRUM) 

A DANCING GIRL LOOKING ON A HAND-GLASS 
DANCING GIRLS IN KYOTO 

A DANCING GIRL AND PLUM FLOWERS . 
A DANCING GIRL WEARING A VEIL . 
SINGING AND DANCING GIRLS BELONGING TO 
THE GAY QUARTER OF NIHONBASHI, TOKYO 
GEISHA GIRLS DISGUISED AS FIREMEN . 

THE GHOST OF A PRIEST 

AN UMPIRE OF THE KEN GAME . . | 
A RING FOR THE KEN GAME J 

THREE FORMS OF THE TOHACHI MORA . 1 
SIX FORMS OF THE HON-KEN J 

THE HON-KEN IN PLAYING 
A LOYAL GIRL LOST IN THOUGHT FOR A"| 

SERIOUS MATTER ....! 
TEA-PICKING AT UJI J 

A KAGO OR PALANQUIN FOR A DAIMYO\ 

(FEUDAL LORD) 

A TSUJI-KAGO OR PUBLIC PALANQUIN FOR [ 

CITIZENS J 

A DANCING GIRL WITH A BATTLE O ] 

A SHUTTLECOCK 

A SINGING GIRL READING A BOOK . 

A DANCING GIRL 

IRIS FLOWERS ARRANGED IN A VASE 
CHRYSANTHEMUM FLOWERS ARRANGED IN 

A VASE 

A FUKAGAWA GIRL WEARING ON A HAORI^ 

(COAT) 

A DANCING GIRL DRESSED IN A FURISOD& 

(LONG-SLEEVED GARMENT) 
A GIRL WEARING ON A GARME T MADE OF 

KASURI CLOTH 

A PAIR OF AZUMA-GRTA, THE CLOGS PUT ON 
BY THE* GIRLS OF YEDO (OLD TOKYO) 
XIV 



To face p. 26 
32 

42 

50 
54 

56 
60 
66 

70 

76 
80 



88 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 

A GEISHA SPREE AT THE TOP OF MERRIMENT To face p. 94 

SINGING AND DANCING GIRLS ON j 

VERANDA OF A RESTAURANT L Io 

A THEATRICAL DANCING BY GEISHA GIRLS ) 

A DANCING GIRL TAKING A KITTEN IN HER] 

ARMS L Io6 

LOVERS IN ELOPEMENT J 

A ROOM IN A GEISHA HOUSE .... 112 

GEISHA GIRLS UNDER CHERRY FLOWERS ON] 

THE BANK OF THE RIVER SUMIDA L ll & 

GIRLS IN FRONT OF A SHRINE . . J 

A SINGING GIRL \ 

A SINGING GIRL AGAINST A LOOKING-GLASS I 

STAND IM 

A SINGING GIRL TAKING OFF HER HAORl] 

A SINGING GIRL WITH A BATTLEDORE . \ 

A DANCING GIRL WITH A BATTLEDORE . [ " I2 ^ 

A DANCING GIRL AND ROSES J 

A HVMBLE COTTAGE IN MOONLIGHT . \ 

ON THE BRINK OF THE DOUBLE SUICIDE BY [ *34 

DROWNING j 

THE CHERRY DANCE AT KYOTO ... 138 

A COPY OF A PICTURE DRAWN BY MORONOBu) 

Y M 2 

A COPY OF A PICTURE DRAWN BY SUKENOBUJ 

GIRLS IN TEA CEREMONY 146 

A COPY OF A PICTURE DRAWN BY TOYOKUNl) 

} 1 5 2 

A COPY OF A PICTURE DRAWN BY UTAMAROJ 



XV 



THE STORY OF THE 
GEISHA GIRL 

CHAPTER I 

ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT OF GEISHA GIRLS 

A. Down to the Age of the Kamakura Govern- 
ment (A.D. 1300) 

IF we are invited by our friends to a restaurant in 
a city of Japan and take sake (national wine of 
Japan) and dishes under the flowery electric lights 
in a nicely decorated room, we will find some 
beautiful young girls who attend upon our party. 
They fill our cup with golden wine, pouring out of 
a small white porcelain bottle, and sing or dance, 
accompanied by performance on the samiscn 
(banjo of three strings). These girls are called 
geisha. 

If we go to a garden-party of a merchant prince, 
we will find a great number of finely dressed young 
girls guiding and helping the ladies and the gentle- 
men who appear in the garden. When the guests 
are to take refreshment these girls wait upon them, 
serving them with any dainties they prefer. The 
girls are geisha, and their duty is to help the host 
and the hostess in entertainment of the guests. 

It is a custom of the Japanese that a class of 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

young girls under the familiar name of geisha 
makes their appearance wherever people take 
dinner or open a meeting in their usual way. So 
popular and indispensable creatures are they in 
the social life of Japan. 

Then what are the duties to be taken by the 
girls under the class of geisha? 

A. Singing, dancing, and musical perfor- 
mance. These three are the fundamental and pro- 
fessional business of the geisha girls. The dancing 
is generally taken by smaller girls ; the singing and 
the music are done by rather older ones. There 
are various kinds of songs. The Nagauta, the 
Tokiwazu, and the Kiyomoto are the most common 
songs sung among them, and the Utazawa, the 
Itchu, the Katdy the Sonohachi, the Ogie, and the 
Utai are the different poems often performed by 
them. All these songs except the Utai are always 
accompanied by the corresponding tunes of the 
samisen. Common musical instruments used by 
them are flutes, drums, and larger and smaller 
tsuzumi (drums in shape of an hour-glass and 
beaten with the right hand), of course the samisen 
being the most important arm for them at any, 
time. Besides, some girls are trained in the 
Gidayu (lyric), the Biivauta (lute), the violin, the 
sword-dance, or the Shigin (singing of the Chinese 
poems). 

B. Reception of guests. The duty of enter- 
taining the guests is generally taken by the older 
girls. Those who are experienced for years in 
their business are very skilful in the art how to 
treat their customers in every different case, how 
to amuse them, and how to help them not to get 
tired in the meeting of a long time. If the guests 
are fond of music they would play on the samisen 
or other instruments; if they like dancing they 
would dance ; some play the ken (a game played 
with the hands : its explanation will be given after- 



ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT 

wards); and their treatment of guests by talking 
is said to be very difficult above the rest. 

C. Elegance and beauty. Geisha who wait 
upon the guests are the flowers and decorations 
among the social party, and must be elegant in 
figure and beautiful in complexion. So the 
younger girls are dressed in gaudy habiliments of 
colours, purple, scarlet, etc., and the older ones in 
their most fashionable and neat style. 

The geisha girls in Japan are one of the cele- 
brated productions in the Island Empire, well 
known throughout the whole world. Japan is the 
country of Bushido the country of Mount Fuji 
the country of cherry blossoms and at the same 
time must be said the country of geisha girls! 

Now let us see when the special profession for 
the female sex sprang up, and how it has developed 
from its beginning down to the present time. 

The class of girls named the Geisha is said to 
have made their first appearance in the age of the 
Tokugawa Shogunate, and the first girl of the pro- 
fession in Yedo (Tokyo) to have been Kasen of the 
brothel Ogiya in Yoshiwara, the licensed 'prosti- 
f tution quarter in A.D. 1762. She was a good singer 
; and expert player on samisen. After her a number 
of the geisha girls appeared in the nightless 
quarter, and on the wall of the hall in the greater 
brothels there could be read a placard as follows : 

i "Singing and Dancing Girls; Engagement to 

Other Houses Accepted." 
I 

1 Thus the geisha in each brothel were not only 
r hired by the guests in their own houses, but also 
ts they could attend on the customers in restaurants 
m or other brothels. We are told that Ran and Toki 
,; of Tamaya shop and Mondo of Iseya shop were 
; r most famous among great numbers of these girls 
r in this age. 

3 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

Although the origin of the class of girls called 
geisha in its strict sense is attributed to the age of 
the tenth Shogun of the Tokugawa family, as above 
mentioned, yet we can find out girls in the similar 
situation if we go back to the far earlier period in 
the history of Japanese manners and customs. In 
consequence, we can say that the singing and 
dancing girls in Japan in their wider meaning 
already existed at the beginning of the twelfth 
century. 

In A.D. 1115, under the reign of the Emperor 
Toba, there first appeared a kind of dancing girls 
called Shirabyoshi. In this age Kyoto the capital 
was very prosperous, and both the Samurai and the 
merchants, who were enjoying the long peace of 
the period, gave themselves up to pleasures and 
merriments. All the beautiful girls famous in 
their local provinces gradually assembled into the 
central city and competed one another for her 
charms and accomplishments. They were well 
taught in poems and dances; all of them in this 
age were of good descent, and Wakanomae and 
Shima-no-Senzai were the most renowned among 
others. Wakanomae', who was the daughter of 
Kyogoku, a court noble, was often summoned to 
the Imperial Palace, and sang and danced in the 
presence of the emperor. 

They put on tate-eboshi (a kind of cap, high 
and straight up) and suikan (a kind of robe), and 
carried a fan and a sword with a white sheath. As 
they were dressed in such a male form, they were 
commonly called the Otoko-mai (dancing girls in 
male form), but subsequently when the two noted 
beauties, Gio and Gijo, made their appearance, 
they were dressed with white suikan only, without 
taking the cap and the sword, and began to be 
called the Shirabyoshi (white dancers). 

Among young and nice girls who concentrated 
in Kyoto from the localities, Hotoke, favoured by 



ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT 

Kiyomori, the head of the Taira clan of Samurai, 
came from Kaga, and Jiju, cherished by Mune- 
mori, one of his sons, was the native of Mikawa 
province. Thus Gojo and Rokujo streets of the 
capital were crowded with these singing and danc- 
ing damsels. 

There is an interesting story about the relation 
between the two girls, Gio and Hotoke. Gio was 
the favourite of Kiyomori, and lived in his palace 
at Nishihachijo of Kyoto. One day a girl named 
Hotoke visited the palace and requested to see the 
great lord, telling that she had come from the 
remote province of Kaga. Kiyomori was very 
angry at the sudden and impolite application of 
the unacquainted girl, and ordered his retainers to 
drive her out of the gate. 

Gio, who was waiting on her patron by his side, 
advised him, "They say the girl is very young; 
it would be merciless to turn her out at once, who 
came from so distant a country. Please be kind to 
her to afford an interview, my lord." 

Having been introduced into the room, Hotoke 
performed a dance. The lord was entirely en- 
amoured with the wonderful beauty of the new- 
comer, and commanded that she should stay in the 
palace, and that Gio go home instantly. 

The latter, bursting to tears, was compelled to 
recede from the presence of her lord to her own 
apartment, and, after leaving on a paper-slide of 
the room a poem as follows, returned to her 
mother's home : 

" On the field some grasses are sprouting and some fading, 
Yet there is none of them that does not die out in 
autumn." 

She led a lonely life together with her old mother 
and her younger sister Gijo, and did not accept 
any engagements from other nobles. One day she 
was sent for unexpectedly by Kiyomori, and, 

5 



accompanied by her sister and two other Shirab- 
yoshi, attended in the presence of her old patron. 

" Hotoke feels solitary," said the lord, " make 
a dance for her comfort." 

Being disgraced by such a cruel order in the 
presence of her enemy, Gio could not help weep- 
ing, but at last was compelled to obey the com- 
mand. 

When she came home she decided to kill herself 
rather than to live and suffer such a great shame, 
but being arrested by her tender sister, all the three, 
the two sisters and their mother, turned to be nuns 
at last, cutting off their long hair. 

One night in the next autumn they were sur- 
prised by the sudden visit of Hotoke to their retire- 
ment at Sagano, the suburb of the city. The 
young girl apologised for her crime committed 
upon her defeated rival. " I saw your poem 
written on the paper-slide," said she, "and being 
heartily moved with it, I took my leave from my 
lord this evening. Now I will cut my hair too, 
and ask your permission to live together with 
you." 

Gio was satisfied to hear the repentance of her 
enemy, and, taking her into her room, both wept 
through the night, embracing each other. Next 
morning Hotoke cut her hair, and the four nuns 
lived there together all their lives peacefully. 

When Gio cut her hair and retired to Sagano 
she was twenty-one, her sister Gijo nineteen, and 
their mother forty-five years old. Hotoke was in 
her youth of only seventeen at the time when she 
ran into the refuge of the three nuns, after the 
service of one year in the palace of Kiyomori. 

In the age of the Kamakura Government (after 
A.D. 1192), when the Minamoto clan took the mili- 
tary power over the whole Japan in place of the 
Taira family, a part of those girls belonging to 

6 



ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT 

the class of Shirabyoshi was said to have degen- 
erated in their morals, and yet the behaviour of 
the most of them was in general rather virtuous 
and respectable. Let us see some examples of the 
girls in this age, and how chaste they were in their 
conduct, or how faithful to their lovers. 

Shizuka was a daughter of Iso-no-zenshi, a 
Shirabyoshi, who lived at Kita-Shirakawa in the 
capital. Once when there happened a great 
drought over one hundred days, and the ceremony 
of prayer-for-rain was held at the Shin-sen-yen, a 
courtyard in the Imperial residence, one hundred 
Shirabyoshi performed the Imayo dances, par- 
taking of the ceremonial, and Shizuka, a girl of 
fifteen years old, was one of them. 

Among the nobles and the Samurai who were 
present in the prayer-meeting, there was Yoshit- 
sune Minamoto, the brother of Yoritomo, the head 
of the Minamoto family. Being captivated by the 
beauty of Shizuka, he took her to his mansion at 
Horikawa, and kept her as his favourite chamber- 
maid. While she was serving her lord very faith- 
fully, misfortune fell upon them, who were com- 
pelled to part from each other at last. 

Being jealous of Yoshitsune's braveness and 
reputation, Yoritomo, his elder brother and the 
Shogun of Kamakura, schemed to assault and kill 
him at his palace at Kyoto. Yoshitsune was now 
obliged to run away from the capital, accompanied 
by his retainers and Shizuka, and when he was to 
pass over Mount Yoshino he ordered his favourite 
to leave him and go back to her own home. She 
wept bitterly, and begged earnestly to follow him 
to anywhere her lord would go. But his firm 
decision compelled the virtuous young girl to part 
from him and go back to her mother living in the 
capital. 

After she returned to Kyoto she was discovered 
by the retainers of Yoritomo and sent to Kama- 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

kura, together with her mother. Though she was 
strictly inquired in the court of the Kamakura 
Government after the whereabouts and particulars 
of Yoshitsune, she did tell nothing about him. 
Then Yoritomo ordered her to perform dances on 
the veranda of the Hachiman Shrine; unable to 
refuse the order, she consented. The four sides 
of the veranda were crowded with the daimyo and 
the retainers of the Shogun, and, by the assistance 
of her mother, she performed some three or four 
artful dances, her beauty and graceful skill rousing 
the admiration of all " the men of the east." 1 
Again she stood up to try another dance, and sang 
the following songs : 

" Turn, turn ! The spool, turn ! 
And to turn back the present 
To the old prosperity of my lord." 

" I yearn after the man who went far off 
By treading on the white snow of Mount Yoshino." 

She was bold enough to pronounce her feelings 
of pining after her late master in front of his 
enemy and the Kamakura warriors. In her age of 
nineteen she became nun and died next year. 

The revenge of Juro and Goro, the two brothers 
of the Soga family, on their enemy, Suketsune 
Kudo, who had assassinated their father, is highly 
admired by all the Japanese, just equal as they do 
for that of the Forty-Seven Ronins, so that these 
two are called a pair of the great honourable 
revenges in the history of Japan. 

At this time (A.D. 1193), there was a dancing 
girl named Tora, who loved Juro Soga, and helped 
him as a wife did for her husband. She was a 

1 Kamakura is situated in the eastern province of the 
country, and the military men under the Yoritomo's Govern- 
ment are called by the name. 

8 



ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT 

Shirabyoshi at Oiso, a town near Kamakura, and 
once, before the revenge was yet carried out, when 
she was engaged for a banquet held by Yoshimori 
Wada, a retainer of Yoritomo and a fettow-daimyo 
of her lover's enemy, Kudo, she refused to go to 
it, in spite of her mother's advice to comply with 
the order. Soga the senior, who was present here 
on this occasion, persuaded his sweetheart to obey 
her mother's direction and attend Wada's enter- 
tainment too. 

"There is nothing more sorrowful than the life 
of the girls in our profession," complained she, 
weeping. " If I wish to be true to my lover I must 
disobey my mother, and if I shall be obedient to 
her I would be looked down as the flatterer to the 
influence of the time. I can't know which way I 
should prefer; confusion of my mind is like the 
hairs in entanglement! " 

In the meantime another messenger came again 
and forced her to follow him to the mansion of 
Yoshimori Wada. 

Though she was compelled to appear in the 
banquet and wait upon Wada, Kudo (lover's 
enemy), and other guests, she did not behave to 
amuse them as did other girls present in the room, 
owing to her hostile feeling to Kudo and other 
daimyos of the Kamakura Government. 

When Tora heard that the two brothers of Soga 
had succeeded in their revenge and been killed 
afterwards by the retainers of the Shogun Yori- 
tomo, she ran to the temple of Hakone and per- 
formed the Buddhist mass for one hundred days 
for her late lover and his brother. Then she con- 
verted herself to a nun, and taking Shosho, her 
fellow-girl and the lover of Soga the junior, to- 
gether with her, went to Zenkoji, the famous 
Buddhist temple at Shinano province, and stayed 
there for two years; n xt they went up to Kyoto, 
the capital, and pursued their religious studies 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

under Hanen-Shonin (Shonin is similar to Rev. 
or St) for one year. 

After this they came back to Kamakura and 
prayed the blessings of the dead for all their lives. 
We are told that the two young nuns, wrapped 
in the black sacerdotal robes, often visited and 
condoled their lovers' old mother, who had been 
bereft of her two sons and was leading her solitary 
life at the village of Soga. 

Since the time when the girls Shirabyoshi first 
appeared (A.D. 1115) down to the age of Kamakura 
Government organised by military clans, the prin- 
cipal places where the singing and dancing girls 
established their business were as follows: 

At the time about A.D. ^156-59, the official 
inns called Honjin were set up in all main stages 
through all the highways of Japan, and the gov- 
ernors of provinces and other officers and officials 
who came up and down the road were to pass a 
night in these houses. Gradually these inns em- 
ployed young beautiful girls of the localities and 
let them wait upon the travellers. This was the 
origin of the girls in local towns. 

However, the most prosperous quarters for the 
girls were the banks along large rivers and the 
harbours on sea-coasts. Eguchi and Kawajiri in 
Settsu province were situated along the bank of 
the River Yodo. The passengers from the western 
provinces and Kyushu Island were all to leave their 
ships and take the river-boats here; thus these 
places having been the ports for these ships it was 
natural that they were very flourishing in this age. 

We are told that Kanzaki in Settsu, too, was 
the largest and most busy harbour throughout the 
whole country in this period, and that there were 
a great number of girls in the profession here, some 
of them having been so noted that their fame was 
well known by men in Kyoto. 

10 



ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT 

Asadzuma in Ohmi province was a good town 
on the bank of Biwa, the largest lake in Japan. 
The girls here used to present themselves in pas- 
senger vessels by rowing their own small boats. 
Teradomari was a town in Echigo province and 
a port for vessels to the island Sado. Passengers 
officials among others were very abundant here, 
and all of them who were to go over to the island 
had to stay one, two, or sometimes several days 
in the hotels while they were waiting for a favour- 
able wind for sailing vessels. 

Kashiwazaki was another town near Teradomari, 
and the girls here, as well as those in Teradomari, 
were welcomed by the passengers who were com- 
pelled to kill time before they could sail out for 
the island. 

Ikeda and Akasaka were two famous stages in 
Mikawa province on the eastern highway (Tokaido). 
The former is specially noted for the native town 
of a girl, Jiju, who was the favourite of Munemori 
Taira, the Naidaijiu (the high official next to Prime 
Minister), in the age of the supremacy of the Taira 
clan. 

Shimonoseki was an excellent port at Nagato, 
as it is at present, and Kaminoseki that at Suo 
province. When the Heike clan (Taira) was des- 
troyed by the Genji (Minamoto) army at the de- 
cisive battle of Dannoura all chambermaids of the 
Heike families took refuge in these two ports and 
at length were compelled to carry on their miserable 
life by attending on the guests who assembled to 
the ports from various quarters. They are said 
to have appeared before the customers in their 
old uniforms, dressed at the time when they had 
been the noble's female attendants. 

Kewaizaka and Oiso were popular and celebrated 
among the Samurai of the Genji clan's Govern- 
ment, as they were situated near Kamakura. The 
more prosperous became the city of Kamakura, the 

II 






THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

more were the number of the girls in these two 
places increased. 

Besides them, Yahagi in Mikawa, Tomo-no-tsu 
in Bingo, Mikuni in Echizen and Ashigara in 
Sagami province were famous for girls; and in a 
word, the gaiety circles in Japan had founded their 
first basis on the banks of the River Hodo near 
the present commercial centre, Osaka and on the 
northern coast of the inland sea of Seto, and then 
gradually made their development through the 
country on the mouths of rivers and near the 
harbours, most of the customers for the girls hav- 
ing been officers and officials who had to travel 
up and down through these parts. 

Now let us see how the girls' fashion of dress- 
ing, their dancing and music, and the state of 
the banquet hall were in this period. As already 
mentioned, at the time when the dancing girls 
were called the Otoko-mai (male dance), they wore 
suikan, a thin silk robe, and a high cap named 
tate-eboshi, carried a sword with the scabbard 
wound with white silk thread, hung down the 
hair over the shoulders, rouged the lips, and rjow- 
dered the face, with the eyebrows painted. 

The girls living near the water at Eguchi, 
Kanzaki, and Asadzuma put on a garment called 
ko~uchigi, with the long hair hanging down at 
the back; they carried in their hand a drum called 
kotsuzumi, and went to the passenger vessels by 
their small boats. When a noted girl was to pay 
a visit she was followed by her two waiting-maids, 
one holding up the paper sunshade, and the other 
handling the oar. 

After they came to be called Shirabyoshi, Gio 
and Gijo, having been the representatives of the 
class of girls, they danced by the white suikan robe 
only, and on the occasion they were to go out of 
doors the first-class girls took carriages and were 
always accompanied by one or two junior Shirab- 

12 



ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT 

yoshi as attendants. If they were to go afoot, 
however, they were covered from head to foot with 
katsugi, a kind of veil in the shape of clothes, 
and put on a large hat named ichimegasa on the 
head over the katsugi,' and carried zori, a pair of 
straw sandals under the feet. 

The girls in this age all were well disciplined 
in making of poems (uta). Whenever they ap- 
peared in a hall of banquet, the first thing to be 
requested upon them by the guests was making 
of new poems in their presence. After composing 
poems the next performances to be done by them 
were to sing and dance; the musical instruments 
used by them were biwa (lute), wagon (harp of 
six strings), so or koto (lyre of thirteen strings), 
kotsuzumi (small drum to be beaten with hand), 
sho (wind instrument), and fue (flute). 

.When a girl was called to the banquet given 
by a high court noble, and succeeded in composing 
a new excellent poem as her first duty in presence 
of gentlemen, she would be at once rewarded by 
the host with a suit of uchigi (a kind of garment) 
and hakama (a kind of loose trousers) in order to 
show his admiration for her eminent work. She 
was not only favoured by the master of the banquet, 
but also she would be bestowed upon with several 
presents by all the guests who were invited to the 
feast. 

Then she would dance and sing Imayo songs 
or Roei verses, or perform on lute, thus helping 
the pleasure for the party present. 

In this age there was no fixed fee for these girls, 
but various kinds of valuable articles were given 
to them as gratuity. Sometimes girls were regu- 
larly employed in the mansion of some higher 
Samurai. In Kiyomori's palace at Nishihachijo, 
Kyoto, the chambers were specially provided for 
Gio, his favourite. We often find that girls were 
engaged even into the war camp; if the war was 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

protracted the camps were generally enlivened by 
these white visitors. In the headquarters of Kore- 
mori Taira, who was defeated by the Genji army 
in the battle of Fujikawa (near the River Fuji), a 
number of girls had been brought for the purpose 
of opening a great feast. When the two brothers of 
Soga revenged on their enemy near the camp 
of Yoritomo at the plain of Mount Fuji, it was 
a rainy night, given a banquet by him for his 
retainer daimyos who had been summoned together 
for the purpose of a great hunting for several 
days; the splendid entertainment was, of course, 
attended by selected beauties living in Kamakura 
and vicjnfities. 

Thuskjn the age of Samurai's influence or pre- 
domina'ncy of military power, girls were taken 
as objects necessary to entertain the guests, and 
naturally their number made a great increase. 
The relation between the military clan and trie 
girl circle, therefore, was inseparably connected 
In the age of the military government at Kamakura. 



B. Down to the Age of the Tokugawa Shogundte 
(A.D. 1850) 

When Hideyoshi Toyotomi established his 
Government in Kyoto the capital (A.D. 1585), he 
officially recognised the girls' quarter at Yanagi- 
machi, and in the age of Tokugawa (1603-1867) 
their circles made a remarkable development. 

In Kyoto the most famous quarter for singing 
and dancing girls was Gion, as it is at present too, 
and its origin is worthy to be explained : 

In A.D. 869 the Gion Shrine was first built at 
the foot of Mount Higashi (East), which borders 
the eastern side of the capital, and as it was crowded 
by worshippers day after day, a number of tea- 

14 



A GARMENT CALLED SUIKAN AND A HEADGEAR NAMED 
TATE-EBOSHI WORN BY SHIRABYOSHI. 







i 



I 



A GIRL IN KATSUGI (OVERHEAD GARMENT), 
ICHIME-GASA (HAT), AND SANDALS. 



ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT 

houses were gradually opened near the shrine to 
meet the requirement of visitors who wished to 
take a rest and make a refreshment. 

Although the shrine was burnt down by a fire 
in A.D. 1243, and destroyed by fires caused by war 
in succeeding ages, yet the more popular became 
the shrine, the more prosperous were the streets 
of the capital. After it was repaired by the Toku- 
gawa Government people who visited to worship 
the shrine were multiplied far greater, and the 
shops where tea and cake were sold began to 
provide wine and dishes. The tea-houses having 
turned to the drinking-houses and restaurants, they 
employed nice young girls to wait upon the guests .> 
who came to take tiffin or to drink sake. This was 
the origin of " Girls " at Gion, and by and by they 
became to sing songs and perform dances, the 
establishment of licensed ochaya (tea-shops or 
merry-making houses) having first taken place in 
A.D. 1732. At first the tea-houses officially re- 
cognised were only eight, and in A.D. 1761 were 
increased to thirty-three. Ichiriki, the famous tea- 
house where Yoshio Oishi, the chief of the Forty- 
Seven Ronins, led his extravagant life in order to 
deceive the enemies who were paying their keen 
attention upon his conduct, was one of these 
ochaya, though it was not yet the licensed res- 
taurant at his time, and the house still exists under 
the name of " Mantei " at present. 

In Osaka, the commercial centre of Japan, Shim- 
macnTislhe oldest seat of " Girls." In A.D. 1662 
Hbrie began to be another quarter of pleasure; 
at first some tea-stalls were permitted to open 
their business, and gradually they turned to res- 
taurants provided with nice maidens. Sonezaki 
was first established in A.D. 1708, and the prin- 
cipal officials who came up from their native pro- 
vinces and were staying in the city to take charge 
of the granaries for their lords and the rich mer- 

15 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

chants of the town, who were to supply them with 
all the necessary articles, were the habitue" to the 
quarter. Koharu Kinokuniya and Oshima Tem- 
maya were trig two beauties most celebrated at the 
Mgjjarter under the Tokugawa age. 

In the age of the Tokugawa Shogunate ? Tokyo 
was called Yedo, and the quarter of Fuliagawa. 
was the first and most flourishing place of geisha 
m vgirls ia~AK^Tfi-i8oo; all the streets around 
the Hachiman Shrine were always noisy with the 
sound of samisen and the voice of singing every 
night. It is said that it was about A.D. 1772 the 
geisha girls first appeared at this part of the city, 
and a girl named Oroku was a noted one, well 
known by all citizens at this period. People who 
were to visit Fukagawa used to go by a house-boat 
called Yanebune', the route being on the river and 
the water along 1 the seashore. 

Owing to the custom of boat-letters' wives, who 
always put on haori 1 (a Japanese coat) over their 
clothes, the girls here imitated to wear it too ; hence 
the geisha of Fukagawa in this age became to be 
called by the nickname haori.l 

On the banks of Yanagibashi most of the boat- 
letters of the city lived in their stylish buildings, 
their business being cleverly managed by their 
hostesses; house-boats for customers to Fukagawa 
and choki-bune (light and swift boats) for visitors 
to Yoshiwara were rowed out by boatsmen em- 
ployed by these boat-letters. 

Thus Yanagibashi having been the centre which 
men-of-pleasure were pouring in, the quarter be- 
came so prosperous that a number of restaurants 
were established, and that most of the geisha girls 
who lived here to meet the demand of these res- 
taurants consisted of those removed from the Fuka- 
gawa circle since A.D. 1801. 

1 It was an etiquette for geisha girls not to use haori in 
presence of the guests, as it is at present, too. 

16 



ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT 

The girls of Yanagibashi were not only engaged 
to the restaurants, but also they went to the up- 
stairs rooms v of the boat-letters' houses, as the 
customers often were fond of making merry in a 
narrow, stylish room of the latter rather than in a 
large ^splendid hall of the former. There were 
over fifteen boat-letters at the district, Masudaya, 
Shinkazusaya, Kawacho, Umegawa, and Omo- 
toya having been most famous among them, and 
about two hundred girls were living in .new narrow 
side-streets around the restaurait and boat-letter 
quarter, every door of the girl-houses'being lighted 
with, a paper lantern. Yanagibashi and Fukagawa 
Were the two great girl quarters in the city of 
Yedo. 

As to dancing and music of the girls, the old 
manners of Shirabyoshi still remained among them 
down to about ,A.D. 1600, and the dances called 
' Komai and Rambu were yet in prevalence. Ko- 
uta or ditties came in vogue early in this age, and 
were sung after playing on samisen. Then the 
following songs began to be rife among gay 
circles: Yedo-nagauta about 1635; Gidayil-bushi 
and Bungo-bushi about 1730; Tokiwazu about 
1735; Tomimoto and Shinnai about 1745; Sono- 
hachi about 1765; and Kiyomoto about A.D. 1800. 

At first these were the songs simply sung by 
accompaniment of samisen, but after about A.D. 
1810 the new dances for Nagauta, Tokiwazu, and 
Kiyomoto were invented, and thenceforward several 
different schools of dancing under the titles of 
Fujima, Hanayagi, Yamamura, and Nishikawa 
were produced. 

The most popular and vulgar song welcomed by 
the girls of gay circles was Dodoitsu, which was 
spread throughout Japan since about A.D. 1830. 
At this time there was an orchestra called Gion- 
bayashi which was performed by a band of girls 
with samisen, gongs, and drums, and the noisy 

17 B 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIR] 

concert was more liked by citizens of Kyoto and 
Osaka than by those of Yedo. 

As we already explained, a class of girls called 
geisha in its strict meaning appeared in the Toku- 
gawa age. Near the end of the sixteenth century 
a musical instrument named samisen was first 
imported from the Loochoo Islands, amd soon 
adopted among the girls as the most convenient 
-one, together with drums, tsuzumi, flutes, and 
bells, all of which were in use since the old times. 
In Osaka and Kyoto the^ girls who could play on 
the samisen were at first called Taiko-joro, which 
were forerunners of the geisha girls in the western 
cities. The so-called Taiko-joro made their first 
appearance in Kyoto in 1675 an< ^ m Osaka in 
A.D. 1683. 

In Yedo the forerunners of the regular geisha 
were a class of girls called Odoriko (dancing girls) 
which already existed before the end of the seven- 
teenth century. The girls who first handled the 
samisen in the city of Yedo were the odoriko, and 
in the flowery period of famous Genroku (1688- 
1703) their business was most prosperous. 

Since Kasen of Ogiya the first geisha appeared, 
in Yoshiwara in A.D. 1762 by her distinguished 
accomplishments in songs and samisen, the 
number of girls of same profession gradually in- 
creased, and their fixed accoutrements by which 
they appeared in the presence of their customers 
were as follows : They put on an under-garment 
with a white tucker, and a suit of plain silk dresses 
marked with their family crest, all at once tied up 
with a broad girdle made of a woven fabric; the 
hair was bound in a coiffure called shimada, wear- 
ing on it a kogai and two kansashi (both are kinds 
of hairpins) and a comb. 

In A.D. 1778 there were fifty geisha girls in the 
Yoshiwara quarter. Yoshicho was one of the most 
flourishing places for odoriko. A little after Kasen 

18 



5. 




2. 




MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS PLAYED _BY GIRLS. 

1. A BIWA (LUTE). j._A SHO (FLUTE). 

2 A WAGON (HARP). 5 ._A Ful (FLUTE). 
3.-A SO (HARP). 



3. 




2. 



INSTRUMENTS 



4. 
PLAYED 



BY GIRLS. 



MUSICAL 

1. A DRUM. 2. A KOKYU (THREE-STRINGED FIDDLE). 

3. A. ( SAMISEN (THREE-STRINGED GUITAR). 4.A KANE (BELL). 



ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT 

appeared in Yoshiwara there was a girl named 
Kikuya at Yoshicho ; she was admired among the 
guests as an ideal girl both on her beauty and 
accomplishments, and her high fame gave encour- 
agement on the prosperity of odoriko at various 
parts of the city. 

The girl famous next to Kikuya was Oroku 
Motoya at Nakacho of Fukagawa, of whom we have 
already referred. In Osaka a girl called Kosan, 
who became very famous by the love-affair with 
her lover, Kingoro, at this period, was a fore- 
runner of the Osaka geisha. 

As there were some girls who degenerated to 

* carry on misconduct, the profession of geisha or 

odoriko was often prohibited since A.D. 1/20, and 

once thirteen girls at Takanawa in Yedo were 

arrested and severely punished in A.D. 1790; but 

soon the circles of girls again appeared and pros- 

tjered at Yoshicho, Kokucho, Nakacho of Ftika- 

'gawa, Jukkendana, Honcho, and Sliimmei. The 

. time when odoriko came to be generally called 

geis'ha was after A.D. 1788. 

On the occasion when the girls were engaged to 
their customers they went to restaurants escorted 
by their mothers, but since about A.D. 1810 they 
were followed by men-servants called hakoya, who 
took the place of the old women. The get-up of 
geisha in this period was to put on the garment of 
long sleeves called furisode, but afterwards they 
used to wear the wadded silk garment (kosode) 
made of striped stuff called meisen in winter, and 
the hemp garment (katabira) with the interwoven 
minute marks called kasuri in summer. They were 
always bare-footed throughout the year, and put on 
a pair of clogs called azumageta. 

They never used haori (Japanese coat) in pres- 
ence of the guests, except the girls of the Fuka- 
gawa- -circle, who exalted themselves by imitating 
the queer fashion of the boat-letter's hostess. But 

19 






THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

coming down to A.D. 1830-40 the so-called haori- 
geisha (coat-girls) ceased to wear the coat, and 
adopted a new fashion to put on a silk garment, 
plain or with printed small figures, the ends of their 
broad belt hanging down as long as to cover their 
lower back, the face powdered thinly, and the hair 
bound in shimada. As the geisha in the room 
wore their garment so long as to trail its skirt, they 
had to pull it up with their left hand when they 
were to walk the street, hence hidari-zuma (skirt 
in left hand) a nickname of geisha in general. 

In Kyoto and Osaka the geisha girls^jnost ex- 
cellent both in art and beauty, were those lived at 
Gion in the former and at Nanchi (south quarter) 
in the latter. Those in Kyoto made their first 
appearance at Shimabara in A.D. 1751 ; but pre- 
ceding them there was a girl named Kawachi in a 
brothel Kashiwaya of Shimabara, and being very 
skilful at singing of songs Nagebushi, she became 
the first taiko-joro. Next another girl, Yoshi- 
matsu, of a brothel Sammonjiya, was an expert 
singer in the same quarter too (A.D. 1711-15). Then 
they were followed by the so-called Gion geisha, 
who turned the banks along the River Kamo into 
the paradise of singing and dancing. 

In A.D. 1843 all the geisha of Gion were removed 
to Shimabara by order, but having been restored 
to their old position in 1851, their prosperity at 
Gion was redoubled. The summer costume of 
young dancing girls (maiko) of Gion was a purple 
gauze garment with the skirt lined with pink silk, 
or a thin hemp dress of superfine quality, together 
with a large belt made of red brocade ; and that of 
singing girls (geiko) generally consisted of hemp, 
thin siTk crape, or dark purple gauze, with figures 
dyed at the part of skirt, their belt made of greyish' 
satin they walked with the skirt pulled high up 
near their' breast by the left hand. 

In Osaka the geisha girls at the Shimmachi 

20 



ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT 

quarter competed their influence with those at 
Nanchi, and the rises of these two circles are attri- 
buted in the age A.D. 1716-35. The musical in- 
struments treated by them at this time were lyre, 
samisen, and fiddle. The Nanchi girls, the essence 
of Osaka geisha, put on their fashionable habili- 
ments with the short skirt hardly covering the 
ankles of feet, never taking haori (coat) of course. 
When they were engaged they went by palanquin 
called Iro-kago or Chaya-kago carried by two men. 

Both in Nanchi and Shimmachi we could see a 
showy procession of a girl's palanquin called Hoi- 
kago every year. The procession of Shimmachi 
took place on the twenty-fifth of January, which 
was the first festival day of the Tenjin Shrine; on 
this day a girl in full dress her head tied round 
with a coloured crape piece got in a decorated 
palanquin, the scarlet skirts of her garment hang- 
ing down over its two sides, and ran for the shrine, 
followed by a number of buffoons, running and 
dancing on the way, their head tied round with a 
long piece of cloth and their body covered simply 
with a short under-garment only. 

The day for the Nanchi palanquin procession 
was the tenth of January, on which the festival of 
the Ebisu Shrine (God of Wealth) at Imamiya was 
celebrated. A girl dressed in black or purple, the 
inside of collar being lined with scarlet crape, sat 
on a heap of three or five beautiful cushions in a 
palanquin ; the suit of dresses on the day was 
called kago-isho (palanquin costume). Her hair 
was bound in " front coiffure ," and decorated 
with a tortoise-shell pin over her forehead. The 
roof of the palanquin was covered with red woollen 
fabric, over which a long white crape was twined. 
Besides the two bearers of the palanquin, it was 
pulled by twenty or thirty buffoons, who caught 
the long end of white crape hanging down from the 
roof. The bearers and the buffoons ran and ran 

21 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

for the God of Wealth, crying "Hoi, hoi, hoi!" 
To send out a girl for worship to the Ebisu Shrim 
in such a foolish and extravagant way, her patrons 
were quite generous to spend three or four hundn 
ryfi 1 for a single palanquin. 
^Besides, there were several ceremonies of girl's 
visit to the festivals of different shrines. 

Rear the downfall 0f4jie Tokugawa Shogunate, 
ronins from local daimiates came up to Yedo and 
Kyoto and selected the quarters of gay circles in 
these cities for the seats of their private meetings. 
The geisha girls at this period were esteemed for 
their spirit. of chivalry or gallantry, and when they 
had to wait upon the party of these ronins tney 
always had a resolution to be killed at any time, so* 
violent and bloody was the temper of the homeless 
patriots and loyalists at this epoch. 

Yoshiwara of Yedo was visited by ronins of 
Mtto, and Gion of Kyoto crowded by^ those Of~ 
Satsuma and Choshu clans, while a great number 
of Samurai in the immediate vassalage of the 
Shogun slipped into these quarters for the purpose 
of assassinating them. There were not a few 
noted girls who discussed with these ronins on the 
affairs of state. 

The girls in this age were generally well con- 
ducted. The sanction was very strict among 
themselves in Yoshiwara, especially against any- 
one whose misconduct had been discovered; she 
was expelled from her circle at once, and her 
dresses which she had worn at the time of mis- 
carriage were all hung down and exposed to the 
public at the very shop of the geisha's guild office 
for several days. 

1 A ryd in this age cost almost one pound sterling at 
present 



22 



ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT 



C. Down to the Present Time. 

After the Great Restoration of the Meija era 
(A.D. 1868), Tokyo, the new name for the old Yedo, 
became the point d'appui of gay circles, and a 
great number of new geisha quarters came to exis- 
tence, while old ones made further development at 
the same time. 

Shimbashi geisha could be found already before 
the end of the feudal age under the Tokugawa 
Government, but at the beginning of the Meiji era 
they were rather insignificant in comparison with 
the old and prosperous circles at Yoshiwara and 
Yanagibashi. However, gradually the quarter be- 
gan to flourish, and at present has become one of 
the greatest circles in the capital. 

At first the girls of the district were called the 
Komparu geisha, and the situation being near the 
bridge Shimbashi, afterwards came to receive 
the name of Shimbashi girls. About the time when 
the new Government of Meiji was established, most 
of customers to the quarters were higher officials, 
and lately the members of Parliament are welcomed 
among the circle during the session every year. 
As the houses in this quarter under a general name 
of Ginza were reconstructed to the brick buildings 
by the Government in 1872, the girls of Komparu 
were fortunate to live in the new houses of nice 
appearance. 

Akasaka is the largest geisha quarter, covering 
all the extent of Tamachi and Tameike. In January 
of 1869 a girl-house called Iseya was first opened 
in a street Shimmachi of the district, and then 
Toyokuraya in March, and Harumoto in May, 
1872, and Hayashiya in July, 1875, these four 
houses only answering the demand for girls at the 

23 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

quarter up to 1885. In 1890 the number of girls 
were increased to one hundred and twenty-five, 
and in 1895 to two hundred. 

There are three great and famous geisha-houses 
in Akasaka at present: 

Harumoto, situated at Sanchome of Tamachi 
Street, was first established in 1872, and keeps over 
forty singing and dancing girls at present, Manryo, 
Kanoko, Kikuryu, and Fukuzuru being most noted 
for beauty and accomplishments among them. 
Tama- Harumoto, Mitsu-Harumoto, and Tsuta- 
Harumoto are its branches. 

Hayashiya, at Nichome of the same street, is an 
old and popular shop since 1875. About thirty 
larger and smaller girls of the house are pushing 
their business in competition with those of Haru- 
moto. Rinko, Misao, Kotatsu, Ine, Toyomaru, 
and Korin are selections among all the beauties, 
and Takabayashi, Shinbayashi, Shimebayashi, 
Yonebayashi, and Chiyobayashi are the branches. 

Kiyotsuchi, in Tameike Street, commenced its 
business in 1899, and at present over thirty girls 
of the house are attracting the guests who visit 
restaurants and waiting-houses of the quarter. 

The two circles of Sukiyamachi and Dobocho 
in the Shitaya Ward are known by a general name 
of the " Shitaya geisha," and were reputable under 
the name of Sukiyamachi girls among citizens 
since A.D. 1804-29, when the Fukagawa circle was 
at its height of prosperity. At the beginning 
of the Meiji era, however, there were only ten 
girls at the Sukiyamachi quarter, and being gradu- 
ally increased they became fifty-two in 1885; at 
present there are one hundred and fifty singing 
and twenty dancing girls, the number of geisha- 
houses amounting to sixty-five. 

The Dobocho quarter contained only twenty-five 
girls in 1890, and made extension to one hundred 
and sixty singing and fourteen dancing girls, in 

24 




A. HOUSE BOAT. 




A CHOKI BOAT. 



ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT 

1910. At present we are told that one hundred 
and sixty-three singing and fifteen dancing girls 
are living in seventy-four houses. 

The customers to the Shitaya circles comprehend 
all ranks of people, and it is a speciality of the 
quarter that the girls here are often hired to the 
meetings of artists and scholars ; hence the Shitaya 
girls have many more acquaintances among these 
kinds of gentlemen than those in other quarters. 
The reason may be ascribed to the existence of 
two great establishments, the Fine Arts School to 
the north and the Imperial University to the west, 
the former on the hill of Park Ueno and the latter 
on the upland of Hongo. 

Yoshicho is one of the large gay quarters in 
the Nihonbashi Ward. It was about one hundred 
years ago that geisha girls span their webs at the 
quarter, and there were not more than thirty girls 
before the time of the Meiji Restoration (1868), 
but near the end of 1871 they were increased to 
more than one hundred. At present the total 
number of the singing and the dancing girls are 
said to have amounted to over five hundred ! All 
the streets surrounding the quarter are the seats 
of banks, firms, and big merchants, and moreover 
the Rice and Stock Exchange is standing near 
it; naturally enough most of the customers here 
are business men. 

Karasumori geisha is a general name given for 
the girls in the quarter to the south of the bridge 
Shimbashi, just on the opposite side to the position 
of the so-called Shimbashi circle. 

Besides those above mentioned, Nihombashi, 
Kobusho, Tenjin, Kagurazaka, Shintomicho, 
Mukojima, Konnyakujima, Fujimicho, Shibaura, 
Asakusa, Hakusan, and Dogenzaka are the quarters 
of geisha girls in Tokyo, and several interesting 
stories with regard to the girls in these places will 
be given in the following chapters, as well as 

25 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

those relating to the beauties in other cities and 
towns of the country. 

Chief events and general customs in this period 
were as follows : 

In A.D. 1873 a girls' training school called 
Jokoba was first established at Gion of Kyoto, 
which was at once followed by Osaka and other 
chief towns. In the school, girls were trained 
in music and dancing on one side and taught 
in reading, writing, and even sewing on the 
other. 

A few years ago in Osaka there took place 
a queer examination for girls at the south quarter. 
The guild office of the quarter was selected the 
examination hall and the examiners consisted of 
a certain number of male members of the guild, 
together with eight old singing girls under mutual 
election. Courses of the examination were two 
kinds of songs called jiuta and edouta for girls 
over twenty years old, the songs and dancing for 
those over seventeen, and the drum added for those 
below seventeen. By the marks given on each 
course by each examiner the result of the examina- 
tion was settled. The system was put in force every 
year, and could attain a good success for selection 
of girls. 

Their dressing was rather simple, owing to the 
interference of the authorities ; they were prohibited 
to use pattern cloth or any extravagant way of 
tailoring ; adornment for their head was limited 
to a comb and a long pin (kogai) of tortoise-shell 
and a short silver pin. Even on a ceremonious 
occasion they could not put on the clothes of figured 
skirts and the belt embroidered with gold thread. 
They never used the socks (tabi), but carried a 
pair of clogs called azumageta under their bare 
feet; their hair was generally dressed in the 
coiffure of shimada, and they were proud to be 
gallant or stylish themselves by wearing a black 

26 




II 



3 < D 



O >H l-f 

z < S 

Q C^ tSI' 

e/r 

< h 






ORIGIN AND DEVELOPMENT 



crape underskirt (juban) directly over their naked 
body. 

After about A.D. 1885, however, the European 
way of dressing the hair under the general name 
of sokuhatsu came to be in vogue, and then the 
Genroku style having begun to prevail since about 
1905, there were a good few girls who dared to 
appear in presence of the guests putting on their 
head the curious cues of katsuyama or hyogo, 
which were in fashion in the Genroku period (A.D. 
1688-1703). 

As to dancing, several different schools had their 
influence in different societies of girls: in Tokyo 
the Hanayagi school controlled the Yoshiwara 
circle, and the Fujima the Shimbashi ; in Kyoto the 
Katayama was popular among the Gion girls ; in 
Osaka the Yamamura trained the Shimmachi geiko 
(girls), while the Sato and the Nishikawa taught 
those in Sonezaki circle; and girls belonging to 
the gay circles in the city of Nagoya were ad- 
herents of the Nishikawa school. 

In A.D. 1872 the Kyoto Ballet or Cherry Dance 
called Miyako-odori was first organised by the girls 
of Gion under the auspices of the governor and the 
councillor of the time. A party of the dance con- 
sisted of thirty-two dancing and eleven singing 
girls accompanied by four for hand-drums, two 
for flutes, three for smaller drums and gongs, and 
one for a larger drum, fifty-three girls in all. As 
there were seven parties, each of which was to 
perform the dance for a week by turns, total number 
of girls for the dance amounted to three hundred 
and seventy-one. 

On the tenth of December, 1873, the governor 
of Tokyo promulgated the disciplinary rules for 
geisha girls, which was the first regulation specially 
with reference to the singing and the dancing girls. 

In November, 1888, the Osaka Ballet, named 
Ashibe-odori, was first formed by girls of the south 

27 



RL 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIR 

> 

circle of the city, in contrast to the Miyako-odori 
or Cherry Dance of Kyoto. 

In 1902 a Great Geisha Union was organised 
by the circles in Tokyo, Yokohama, Hachioji, 
Shizuoka, Maebashi, Sendai, Mito, Yokosuka, and 
Odawara, all these cities being situated in the east 
half of Japan. 



28 



CHAPTER II 

TRUE FEATURES OF GEISHA GIRLS 

A. Dancing Girls 

To make a deductive reasoning from a Japanese 
saying, " There is no foolish business in the world, 
but there are many foolish customers," we can^ 
conclude that the existence of geisha girls is to be 
ascribed to their customers. The greater part of 
these girls are not wise and educated ladies, but 
on the contrary they are born in poor and ignor- 
ant families, giving no good influence to them in 
.their childhood. When little girls some fourteen 
or fifteen years old, born among such families, 
come first to be trained as geisha, they are called 
oshaku or dancing girls for one or two years ; 
during the term as oshaku their fee is one-half of 
that for a mature geisha or so-called singing girl, 
hence they are often called hangvoku or " half- 
fee." 

In the evening when they are engaged to res- 
taurants they appear in presence of guests as ap- 
prentices of geisha, and in daytime they are strictly 
trained in all accomplishments necessary for the 
profession. On the termination of the hardest 
study and severest training for one or two years 
they are scarcely enlisted as the singing girls. 
During the apprenticeship they must get up very 
early every morning, and, rubbing their sleepy 

29 






THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

eyes, dust and sweep all the rooms of the house; 
towards the evening again they must clean the 
rooms and light the lanterns at the door. No 
sooner have they finished supper than they are 
taken by senior girls to bath, and painted in pre- 
paration for the engagement to restaurants. 

Little girls under training by a passionate hostess 
or elder geisha are said to have their body whipped 
with a long bamboo tobacco-pipe almost every day. 
Even in the time when they are engaged by guests 
in a restaurant, how pitiful it is to see them kneel- 
ing down rigidly and casting timid, stealthy 
glances at the faces of their seniors and maid- 
servants present in the room rather than to take 
care of the guests themselves. While the customers 
are pleased to look at them in dancing, the little 
dancers themselves are pleasant in no wise. Yet 
dancing and drumming, accompanied by singing 
songs and playing samisen of elder girls, are their 
duty as oshaku, and by this they can earn a certain 
sum of money, though the fee is only one-half of 
that for their elders. 

If, however, any of them are grown up to the girl 
in the flower of maidenhood, some seventeen or 
eighteen years old, the little finger of her right 
hand having been stiffened with callosity as the 
result of frequent touching with the plectrum of 
samisen and her neck blackened with constant ap- 
plications of powder we would be surprised by 
her beautiful complexion and elegant style; cer- 
tainly her external appearance is entirely changed, 
at every inch, so that even her parents themselves 
doubt whether she is their own daughter ! A girl 
in full dress, without a bit of defects from the top 
to the toe, comes striking her charming attitude, 
casts a. glance and smiles on us wouldn't even 
women be enchanted by her loveliness and beauty 
at the moment? And all of these belles to be called 
the incarnation of Venus were once those poor little 

30 






TRUE FEATURES OF GEISHA GIRLS 

girls who wept bitterly to be separated from the 
parents and were at last brought to the geisha- 
houses never seen before. 



jB. Employment of Girls 

Lately the method of adopting girls in geisha- 
houses in Tokyo made a great change. The ap- 
prenticeship system of little girls was almost given 
up among the gay circle, but in lieu of it they 
employ those girls who have been already taught 
and trained in some local towns on their prelim- 
inary lessons necessary for geisha business. Girl 
agents, who are called zegen generally among the 
circle, visit local provinces, and out of the girls 
who are found in a rural restaurant or geisha-house 
select a number of girls appreciated by them to fit 
for adoption in the metropolitan girl-shops. We 
are told that these country girl-houses or res- 
taurants are complaining for deprivation of their 
living treasuries which they have hardly made up 
from their primitive state to the situation somewhat 
hopeful for utilisation in future. 

The cunning but wise method of picking out the 
girls are not limited for those in local provinces, 
but even the daughters of poor citizens in Tokyo 
are preparing themselves so as to be able to be 
adopted for geisha at any time when money is 
necessary for their parents; that is, after they come 
home from school every day they go to teachers of 
samisen and dancing, the fundamental acquire- 
ments most important for the capacity as singing 
girls. 

C. Classes of Girls 

The employers of geisha girls generally a're old 
and experienced singing girls, but often we find 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIR 

those kinds of hostesses who are ex^geisha, 
wives of story-tellers or actors. 

To classify geisha girls according to the terms 
of employment, there are three kinds : 

1. Marugakae or absolute employees are those 
who are agreed to borrow a sum of money in 
advance, some one or two thousand yen, and to 
be taken into service for three or five years; and 
while expenses for dresses, meals, and pocket- 
moneys of girls are borne by the employers, all 
the incomes of the former within the term are 
taken into the hand of the latter. 

2. Wake (one-half) and Shichisan (three-tenths) 
or participators in gains are those who borrow 
some five hundred or one thousand yen, which 
shall be paid back to the employer by the end of 
the fixed term of service, and responsibility for 
expenses on dresses, meals, etc., being properly 
agreed between the two sides according to the case, 
money earned by the girls is divided between the 
two by the rate fixed in the agreement. 

3. Mise-gari, Kamban-kari, or title-renters are 
independent girls employed in no girl-houses, but 
pursuing their business in the name of some re- 
putable geisha-shops ; they pay some ten or twenty 
yen per month for the rent of the house-title. 



D. Income of Girls 

It is very difficult to know the exact amount of 
income of a geisha girl, but it is probable that the 
most popular and noted girls of the first rank in 
Tokyo can earn one hundred and fifty to three hun- 
dred yen per month on an average, with the excep- 
tion of January, in which they seem to make money 
of four or five hundred to over one thousand. As 
exceptional cases, there are some girls who are re- 
ceiving monthly allowances of some hundred yen 
from their kind and rich patrons. Anyhow, it is 

32 




C/) 

J 
(4 



O 

z z 



o < 
z 

O O 

Z Z 

< *} 



TRUE FEATURES OF GEISHA GIRLS 

true that the income of a girl of the first rank is 
much more than the salary or earnings got by a 
Government official of the higher rank or a director 
of a smaller firm. What a profitable and interest- 
ing business for the females is the profession of 
geisha girls ! 

If we wish to hire a girl of the first rank on a 
certain day and give an order to a restaurant or 
waiting-house to call her at a fixed time on an 
appointed date, we pay yen 5.10, of which yen 4.20 
is paid to the girl, 60 sen to the restaurant or 
waiting-house, and 30 sen to the manservant who 
escorts the girl from her house to the restaurant, 
carrying her samisen at the same time it is the 
sum of the fee for a No. i girl, and such is the 
rate of its distribution among the party concerned. 

If we request her to play some performance 
specially difficult or troublesome, or keep her for 
the time unusually long, we must give her an 
extra of two or three yen] and again if we have to 
engage her at a place beyond the scope of her 
circle we should pay six or seven yen for herself 
and fifty sen for her escort. 

Lately it has become a custom that the number 
of geisha girls is greater than that of the guests 
in a big party held by people of the higher rank, 
so that the payment for the girls is far more than 
the total amount of expenses for dishes, wine, 
tobacco, tips to the restaurant and maidservants, 
etc. 

If a girl is hired temporarily without a previous 
notice her fee is not more than two yen and fifty 
or sixty sen, and if she pays a visit for a short 
time, some ten or twenty minutes, to her acquainted 
gentlemen who happen to be present in another 
room of the same restaurant where she was en- 
gaged by other guests she is bestowed by them 
with a tip of one yen, the short visit being called 
go-aisatsu (compliments) of the girl. 

33 c 






THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 



E. Expenses of Girls 

Next let us see the expenditure of a girl. Sup- 
pose that her family consists of her mother, 
brother, a l maidservant, and a seamstress, five 
persons in all including herself. Unavoidable 
expenses for house-rent, telephone charge, busi- 
ness tax, petty moneys, social outlays for theatre 
and others, wages for employees, provision, fuel, 
charcoal, light, and so on amount to over one 
hundred yen per month at least ; and she must pay 
another hundred yen for dry goods stores and 
rikisha-men. Moreover, it is a habit among the 
girl circle that she should give presents to res- 
taurants, waiting-houses, and their maidservants 
twice a year, in July and December, the amount 
of consumption by a most celebrated girl of the 
first rank for the semi-annual gifts attaining to a 
wonderful sum of over five hundred on each 
occasion. 

In January she should put on a New Year's 
dress newly made every year, and a suit costs two 
or three hundred yen. Summing up all these 
current and temporary expenses, how expensive is 
the life of a geisha girl, and how hard is it to earn 
such a big sum by a young weak woman ! 

Geisha girls are always squeezed by demons of 
several kinds. The first demon is the tax-officer 
who levies one hundred yen per annum upon the 
first-class girls of Tokyo, and next they are coerced 
to be members of some public females' associations 
or to contribute for charity bazaars. On the 
occasion when a great festival of a principal shrine 
in the city is to be celebrated, they have to attend 
the ceremony dressed in a costly costume specially 
made for the festival, and in a certain fete the 
expenses of a girl for the costume and its appen- 
dages amount to over three hundred yen. 

34 



TRUE FEATURES OF GEISHA GIRLS 

We often hear that some of the geisha girls are 
pursuing their business for the purpose of earning 
money necessary for their husbands who are 
abroad to study, or getting educational expenses 
for their brothers. 



F. Characteristics of Girls 

The following interesting story was given by 
an old <->nd experienced singing girl, and it will 
give us a good knowledge on the true and inner 
features of geisha girls at the present time : 

"Certainly among the girls at present we can- 
not trace cleverness, activity, strong will, and 
courage, which were the characteristics peculiar to 
the girls of the Yedo age. What a pity it is! 
The cause of the degradation of girls at present 
should be attributed to the downfall of taste on the 
side of guests. For example, look at a girl most 
popular in the Shimbashi circle. What a coun- 
tenance she has! short, round, of swollen cheeks, 
and dull. Such a face is called Marupocha (round 
and fat), and generally welcomed by guests. 

" Marupocha may signify perfection and obedi- 
ence in a meaning, just contrast to sharpness and 
graveness of the Yedo girls, which is not liked 
by boastful blades of the present day. Most of 
the guests in these days are people who come up 
from local provinces and know no tastes on true 
merry-making of the metropolitan inhabitants. 
What a nonsense to expect absolute obedience and 
perfection for the professionals like geisha girls! 
' The inexperienced fellows presume the girls 
to be liars, or despise them against craftiness in 
the art of enchanting men. In the world there is 
no one who does not use some tacts in his business, 
and yet men are as cruel as to blame us only, as 
if to be a metamorphosis of lies and deceptions. 

35 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

Our motto is ' Neither to deceive guests nor to be 
deceived by them,' and nothing more in tacts and 
tricks. 

11 If we treat them all times with sincerity only, 
we should be ruined by dishonest or inhuman 
reprobates and ridiculed by fellow-girls, and on 
the contrary, if we dare to make a fool of them 
with cheats and lies only, we would be knocked 
down by upper hands and consoled with no sym- 
pathy of our comrades. Men in general are pleased 
to trap girls since old times, and it was wisely 
said by a noted girl that ' A girl does not speak 
lies so much as her guest does.' 

" In treatment of customers, the very important 
art for us is the clever disposition of truth and 
falsity, and its most abstruse principles cannot be 
easily mastered by us. Consequently if a girl 
does not understand the way how to treat her 
guests she cannot be called an accomplished geisha. 

" We are women and have passions as equal 
as other girls do ; we may fall in love with men 
whom we like, but when we are attending upon 
guests in a restaurant, we are on duty to carry out 
our business, and have no relaxation of mind to 
think of other matters. Lovers of geisha girls 
are not limited to young, handsome men, but it is 
funny indeed that we are often attracted by the 
ways of smoking, speaking, dressing, or such a 
kind of trifling matters which are a little different 
from or rather stylish than those done by common 
people. 

" Girls of our circle detest the men who boast 
themselves of spending money lavishly, or who 
affect to be men of the world. Then what kind 
of men are liked by geisha girls? 'Tis a very 
difficult question! Yes, a simple, kind, calm, and 
tasteful gentleman is the ideal lover of all girls, 
I am sure! 

14 In a word, girls of the gay quarter do not 

36 



TRUE FEATURES OF GEISHA GIRLS 

love men thoughtlessly or out of fickleness, and 
if they have once fallen in love they are glad even 
to sacrifice their lives for the lovers. Our business 
being to meet various kinds of men every night 
and day, we have best conveniences to select out 
lovers coincident with our characters. We dare 
say the holiest love is ours, absolutely true and 
honest at every case and always with the burning 
affection, more serious than that of the females be- 
longing to any other classes. 

" Some of the people look down upon us without 
discrimination to be the faithless and cold-hearted 
creatures living in the dishonourable society. Our 
circle is a poor body of unlucky girls, each member 
of which is far deeper in love and humanity than 
any girls of other ranks. Competitions among our 
fellow-girls are fierce ; even among the hostess and 
girls in the same house we cannot be off our guard. 
When engaged to a restaurant, constraints for 
waitresses or maidservants of the house, cares for 
guests, and ostentations and emulations against 
other geisha girls present in the same room are 
governing our brains at all times. 

4 ' As we are always troubled in and out, we are 
used to be vigilant at any time, but as it is impos- 
sible to strain the attention permanently, we seek 
for some consolers. Almost all girls who have no 
lovers yet have one or two bosom friends among 
their fellow-girls to whom they can open themselves 
on all their anguishes and complaints. Thus our 
troubles and pains could be temporarily tranquil- 
lised by the special affection and consolation be- 
tween the friends. 

' By the way, the features of the geisha girls in 
Yoshiwara or * Nightless City ' will be told, as 
they are the essence of girls in Tokyo. The Yoshi- 
wara geisha are bare-footed throughout all the 
seasons, and in winter when it is very cold they 
walk up and down through a long corridor with 

37 






THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

the upper part of their feet wrapped round with 
the skirts of clothes. They are always too busy 
to be concerned in love-affairs ; every morning they 
have to go to the teachers of dancing, songs and 
music, and as to the kind of songs, they must know 
Hauta (short songs), Naga-lita (long songs), 
Kiyomoto, Tokiwasu, Gidayu, Itchu, and Kato 
at least, each of these lessons being taught by 
different instructors respectively. 

" Training of singing in the coldest season is 
the hardest work done by younger girls. Every 
morning at dawn in the dead of winter, young 
girls sit down on an open platform on the roof 
and recite songs in the highest tone of their voice, 
so that it is not rare that blood is shed from their 
broken throats. 

" The annual performance most important and 
enjoyable for the Yoshiwara geisha is the Niwaka 
Dance held in spring season when cherry blossoms 
are in full bloom (see ' The Nightside of Japan ' for 
particulars of Niwaka). All girls are in fervent 
competitions among themselves to have their own 
parties engaged by customers ; a sign-paper is sent 
from the guide-houses to the girls as a tally for 
each engagement, the names of each girl engaged 
and of the guide-house where her party is to attend 
being written down upon it. The girls tie up all 
these pieces of sign-paper to their hairpin, and as 
popular girls receive engagements of many cus- 
tomers, a bundle of so many sign-papers is seen 
on the head of each girl like a large white flower 
which pliantly flutters when she dances on the 
stage." 

G. Curses and Conjurations 

Trifling events or phenomena which attract iiO 
special attention for common people are gener- 
ally taken by the girls of the gay circle as the 

38 



TRUE FEATURES OF GEISHA GIRLS 

matters of great importance, surprise, or fear ; and 
it is no wonder that curses, conjurations, and 
ghost-stories are usually welcomed by them. 

Charming, cursing, or conjuring is sneered by 
us as a. foolish superstition, but if a girl's aim or 
desire could be attained by any of these means 
how happy would she feel for her success! 
Specially in the gay quarter, where love is their 
soul, the superstition is most prevalent throughout 
its whole extent since ancient times. Even in 
these days when the God of Thunder is captivated 
by human beings to serve as the electric light, 
instead of tiny paper lanterns lighted with veget- 
able oil some fifty years ago, we often find a 
paper doll hanging headlong on the lattice window 
of a saloon, or a heap of love letters, each twisted 
into a string, in front of the altar of a certain 
shrine ; the doll represents the invocation for fine 
weather, and the letters contain girls' supplica- 
tions to the god for attaining their objects in love- 
affairs. 

Now several interesting ways of charms, con- 
jurations, and curses in regard to love-affairs 
usually executed by geisha girls will be explained : 

i. " Fox." There are several ways of charm 
adopted by a girl for drawing her lover to her 
side, but the one most efficacious among others is 
utilisation of "fox." 

A girl could not see her lover for one or two 
months, and, as she had many things to talk and 
consult with him, she resolved to try the charm 
of " fox " for him. First she wrote the word 
" fox " on a small piece of paper, which was pasted 
at a corner of the third step from the top of a 
staircase in her house; then she had to wait for 
somebody to stumble down from the staircase. 
It is said that if anyone is fallen from the third 
step as expected she is successful in her secret 
charm. What a mishap for one who is doomed 

39 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

to fall down from the high staircase for the girl's 
folly! 

On the morning after three days an old maid- 
servant of the girl's house was coming down the 
stairs, lost her footing just at the third step, and, 
having fallen over the staircase, lay down sense- 
less on the floor matting downstairs. Startled by 
the sudden cries and sound, all the family ran up 
to the spot, and after a short tumult on adminis- 
tering medicine and water the old woman could 
recover her breath. 

Towards the evening of the same day she was 
engaged to a restaurant, and when she found her 
lover waiting for her in a room of the restaurant, 
how startled she was to witness the miraculous 
virtue of the conjuration so quickly ! 

2. " Needle." If a girl wishes to see her lover 
she takes his name-card, and, concentrating her 
ardent love upon it, pierces a needle through it; 
and next she sticks it very secretly at the inside of 
the entrance door of her house, facing to the north. 
It is generally believed by girls that the lovers 
would come to them within five hours after the 
charm was faultlessly performed, and that there 
is no effect if it is tried more than 1 once in a month. 

3. " Mirror." On a small piece of paper 
various abusive languages for the lover are written 
down, as many as possible, and it is stuck on the 
back side of a pocket looking-glass in such a way 
that the written words are read upside-down. The 
lover will soon visit his girl, who is yearning to 
see him. 

Another way with the looking-glass is to write 
down on a small piece of paper his name and 
address in the most regular script, and then to add 
the incantatory words "He is dead ! " below them ; 
the paper is pasted upside down on the back side 
of a mirror. He is attracted soon to the girl by 
this way too. 

40 



TRUE FEATURES OF GEISHA GIRLS 

4. " Razor." A girl wishes to know the real 
intention of her lover for herself, or she doubts 
whether his kind words given to her in their last 
meeting were spoken from his heart. On this 
occasion she calls him to her house and waits until 
he falls asleep in night. At the dead of night, 
about two or three o'clock, she brings a large glass 
or porcelain bowl filled with water, which a sharp 
razor is lain on, and puts it near the head of the 
lover in the bed so stealthily as not to be perceived 
by him. Then, moving the razor along the brim 
of the bowl, she whispers to him in sound sleep, 
"Now tell me your real intentions for me." He 
begins to talk in his sleep, confessing everything 
he has in his mind. 

5. " Hair- Washing." A girl is yearning after 
her lover who is travelling in a distant quarter, or 
she wants to speak with him about some important 
matters which occurred upon her during his 
absence. On such a case, if she carries out a 
conjuration of " Hair- Washing," he would come 
back soon to her. 

First she unties her hair and washes it in the 
water of a pond the water of a well, river, or 
water-works being of no use for the charm then 
she stands by the side of a well near her house, 
letting down the hair over her shoulders, and look- 
ing down on the surface of the water with her 
whole heart, states everything she has to tell her 
man for the bottom of the well. By this the girl's 
desire is said directly to reach him, who comes 
back to see her instantly. 

There is a fearful story in connection with the 
effect of the conjuration performed by a geisha 
girl. After washing the hair she stood near the 
well, and while she was expressing her desire a 
comb on her head slipped out of the hair, and, 
falling into the well, sank down deep to the bottom 
of the water, but she did not care of it at the time. 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

How remarkable was the effect of the charm ! 
Her paramour, whom she had been on tiptoe for, 
came back after a week. Transported with joy, she 
hastened to the house assigned by him. When 
she entered the room where he was awaiting her, 
she was stunned with horror by rinding his face 
scarred with a distinct trace of a comb. 

6. " Photographs." A girl intended to avenge 
upon a man whom she had been cruelly tortured 
and insulted by. A horrible curse, which she was 
taught by one of her friends and decided to carry 
out, was a method of boiling a photograph of the 
hateful chap. First she got his portrait and threw 
it into a boiling oil pan ; then she continued to boil 
the photo on the blazing fire as long as she could 
keep. A few days after she was satisfied to find 
the face of her enemy blistered up like that of a 
drowned man. 

7. " Visionary Method." There is a mysterious 
method of reading the thought of a man often 
experienced by geisha girls. A girl is in sleep 
at her home, and her soul visits her lover; thus 
she can hear from him what she wants to know. 
To try the method, first she must be acquainted 
with particulars of his address, arrangements of 
the rooms of his house, and the position of his 
bed. Then she sits down on her bed in her own 
room, all the doors around the room being shut 
up, next she composes the mind, shuts the eyes, 
puts the hands on the knees, and is absorbed in 
meditation as follows : 

" She gets out of bed, changes her clothes, opens 
the door of the room, and gets out of the house. 
By taking a rikisha, carriage, or motor-car, she 
passes such and such streets, and arrives at the 
gate of her man's house. Now she writes the 
word * fox * thrice on her left palm with her right 
forefinger; and then the gate and doors open of 
themselves. After passing through rooms, she 

42 



TRUE FEATURES OF GEISHA GIRLS 

approaches the bed of the lover. She sits down 
near his head, and calls him by a low voice. 
Getting his reply in trance, she expresses what 
she wants to ask, and is distinctly answered by 
him for everything she inquires. After she satis- 
fied herself by having his true intentions confessed 
in response to her inquiries, she comes home by 
following the course just contrary to that taken on 
the way to him." 

If, however, she thinks any other matters during 
'he meditation, or opens her eyes even for a 
lament, she fails to attain her aim; and besides, 
ii she meets in vision with any person on the way 
during her journey it is said no effect can be 
obtained. 



H. Spectral Traditions 

Out of many ghost-stories got about among 
geisha girls, some of the most interesting or 
curious ones will be given here : 

Until all the buildings in the North Gay Quarter 
of Osaka were burnt down by the great tire in 
A.D. 1910, there was a public-house well known by 
the name of " Ghost Tea-house " in a street of the 
quarter. The hostess of the house was an old 
widow over forty years old, and was often talked 
among girls of her love-affairs in connection with 
young actors or samisen players. It was rumoured 
among them that when she was angry her ears 
stood upright and vibrated sharply like those of 
a cat. More than the mystery of sticking up of 
the hostess's ears, there on the upstairs of the 
house was a dancing stage, upon which a man saw 
a wonder : 

One dark night near the end of a year he went 
up alone to the upstairs on business, and, looking 
toward the dancing stage unintentionally, he found 

43 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIK 

on it a very large head of a woman smiling for 
him. He was not frightened at the apparition, 
but bold enough to jump at it on the instant. The 
head disappeared, and the stage remained as 
ful as usual. 

.Wonders of the house were not limited to those 
above mentioned, but all the geisha girls told 
several strange events which they met with in the 
house. A girl assuredly said that once she saw 
the neck of the hostess elongated by five inches 
at least, and another reported that a man and a 
woman, both very old and with silvery white hair, 
were sitting down and looking at her in the inner- 
most detached room after twelve every night, in 
spite of the fact that there were no such old 
persons among the family of the house. 

Among some five or six large and first-rank girl- 
houses in the Horie Merriment Quarter of Osaka, 
there was a famous one named Hanafuji, and 
the customers to it generally were citizens of the 
higher class. Of all the geisha of the house, the 
girl called Komatsu was most popular among 
the customers; she had a beautiful complexion, 
and was rather fat and white in her skin. 

One evening in the spring of a year there hap- 
pened to come in the house a tall and handsome 
young gentleman, some twenty years of age, and 
Komatsu was appointed to attend him. As she 
was refined in her accomplishments and treated 
him very kindly, he seemed to have been infatuated 
with her. 

After the first meeting of the two, the young 
dandy visited the girl every second or third day, 
always late in night. He was very liberal to spend 
a big sum of money every time; for his new sweet- 
heart he bought dresses, ornaments on hair, and 
everything she wished for. Thus the fame for the 
good fortune of Komatsu having come to resound 
throughout the whole extent of Horie quarter, she 

44 






TRUE FEATURES OF GEISHA GIRLS 

was respected as the first and most popular girl 
among all geisha in the quarter. 

As she was bound under the engagement by her 
lover every day from morning to night, no man 
could enjoy the happiness of being waited upon 
by the famous and prosperous singing girl. The 
young gentleman often took her to picnics, excur- 
sions to noted sites in Kyoto, theatres, and all 
pleasure resorts in and around the city of Osaka, 
so that singing and dancing girls, waitresses of 
restaurants, and all females living in the quarter 
envied her good luck. 

After the full there follows the lack, and a tall 
tree in the wood is always blown by the wind 
stronger than the others. When the prosperity of 
the girl Komatsu attained its extreme, some bad 
rumours about her patron began to sprout and 
spread throughout the whole quarter; he did not 
come to Hanafuji, the girl's house, until it was 
past twelve every night, and went back sneaking 
away very early every morning before dawn ; and 
though he was spoken of to be a very handsome 
young gentleman, there was nobody who saw him 
but the family of her house, and the girl Komatsu, 
who had been fat, healthy, and active, became pale 
and faint day after day since she had been first 
visited by her lover. 

The hostess of Hanafuji did not know these dis- 
reputes, but on the contrary she was much satis- 
fied to see the great profit earned by her favourite 
girl, who was also glad to have abundance of costly 
dresses and other articles given by her young guest 
as much as she wished for. At last the hostess 
built for Komatsu a new detached room, which 
was profusely decorated with valuable furniture 
and articles, and its use was limited to the girl 
only any time when she was to receive her lover. 

In a street near the Horie quarter there lived a 
chivalrous boss named Tatsuyoshi, who had been 

45 




THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

often told about the strange young gallant in love 
with Komatsu, and now began to doubt his realit] 
judging from his actions so far. Being acquaint 
with the hostess, one summer evening he visit( 
Hanafuji and ordered wine and dishes, hiring 
some geisha girls at the same time. At lengtl 
he got so heavily drunk that he could not stan< 
up himself, and was compelled to pass the nighl 
in the house. 

Near midnight he rose up from his sham sleej 
and crept out of his room. While he was skull 
ing at a corner of the yard near the detached 
specially built for Komatsu, he saw a mai 
secretly approaching the room ; by the starlight 
the summer night he recognised him to be a young, 
tall and handsome fellow, covering the lower hal 
of his face with a fan. When the young mai 
opened a low bamboo wicket in the yard and came 
at the room, the girl, who was waiting for him, 
opened the door, took his hand and accompani< 
him into the room after shutting up the door again, 

How surprised the voluntary investigator wj 
when he saw the girl, once with so fat and health; 
body and with so lovely rosy cheeks swollen at th< 
lower part, but now so wonderfully emaciat< 
within less than half a year that she appeared lik( 
a person who had gone to that bourne from when< 
no traveller returns ! His suspicion upon th( 
youth became deeper and stronger now. He came 
back to his own room, and fell in deep ponderinj 
how to make out the real character of the monster, 
When the clock on the wall struck three he agaii 
stole out into the yard, and, arriving at th< 
entrance door of the girPs room, he locked it u] 
firmly from the outside, so as nobody could come 
out of the room. 

Next morning he went round the house to wake 
all the family, then he told them the bad rumours 
spread throughout the quarter, and next the state 






TRUE FEATURES OF GEISHA GIRLS 

of things witnessed and the arrangement taken by 
him last night. The hostess did not believe him, 
but being forced to follow him, she went out 
together with him for the detached room. The 
door was unlocked by him, and at the instant 
when they stepped into the room both were 
frightened at finding a large, old, and black- 
spotted badger lying dead, with its eyes widely 
opened, near the steps of the entrance. By the 
side of the corpse of the fearful animal the poor 
girl Komatsu in all skin and bones lay swooned, 
grasping her hands as if to have fallen after great 
writhing. By the effect of medical treatment she 
could hardly recover her breath, but, having been 
too much frightened, she fell seriously ill, and 
at last died at the end of autumn of the same year. 
In the Inari gay quarter of Moji port, at the 
north end of Kyushu Island, there was a singing 
girl called Kimiyo, in a girl-house, Asakawa-ro. 
She was a young, beautiful girl, eighteen years 
old, and very obedient to her employer, as well 
as kind to her customers. 

One day at the beginning of a summer she took 
cold, and, as she got worse day by day, she took 
leave from her hostess and returned to her parents. 
Though she was under medical treatment by some 
noted doctors, yet her condition became dangerous. 
One evening in June she asked her parents to 
come near her bed, and very secretly told the 
following strange dream : 

' While I was half-asleep in daytime a golden 
serpent appeared in my presence and said to me, 
* If you will build a new shrine for me, I shall 
relieve you from your serious illness.' " 

The parents, however, took her to be in de- 
lirium as the result of heavy fever, and did not 
care her saying at all. Next evening again she 
told them that she had seen the same dream as she 
had explained last night. As they could not be 

47 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIR: 

indifferent for their daughter's repeated drea 
now they built and dedicated a small shrine to the 
serpent in dream at a corner of the yard. In th 
same night the large serpent appeared bef 
the girl and expressed his joy for her kindness i 
establishing his shrine. Since the next mornin 
she began to get better, and after some two week 
was completely recovered. How glad her parents 
were to see their daughter rescued from death, and 
a great and pompous festival was held by them 
for the preserver of her life after reconstructing a 
larger and more splendid shrine. 

Kimiyo, the girl revived by the serpent, now 
lives in Tokyo as the wife of a merchant. If one 
visits her, he will find a fine shrine of God Ser- 
pent on the miniature hill in the large yard behind 
her house, and it is worshipped by her every 
morning. 

Near the end of the Tokugawa age, the streets 
of Yedo city, and especially those within the 
limits of its ay circles, were haunted by spectres, 
generally called the Hair Cutting Demons, and in 
consequence no trace of girls could be seen through 
these streets in night. 

One dark evening a girl named Hanakichi 
(Lucky Flower) was to follow her lover, who was 
going home from a restaurant after their happy 
meeting; they were walking side by side, with 
their hands clinched to each other, and exchanging 
their honey talks. At the moment when they were 
to turn a corner of the street, suddenly they felt 
at their necks a cold touch of something, and 
though the two instantly put their hands at the 
spots to find what the matter was, there was 
nothing to be noticed. But as they felt uneasiness 
somehow by the sudden queer cold touch, and 
did not like to go on farther in such a veritable 
pitch dark night, they came back to the restaurar 
again. 

48 



TRUE FEATURES OF GEISHA GIRLS 

Looking up at the heads of the guest and the 
girl, the hostess and maidservants of the house were 
all in consternation, and, making inquiries of them, 
the two were told to look in the mirror anyhow. 
How surprised they were to find their hairs cut off 
at the roots of their 1 coiffures! The hair being 
the second life for girls, the girl Lucky Flower 
lost her senses on seeing her hair cut off so cruelly. 

Early next morning the crop-haired paramour 
and menservants of the restaurant went out to ex- 
plore the spot where he and his mistress lost the 
crowns of their heads, and could discover the two 
beheaded black masses rolling by one side of the 
street. 

It was in February five years ago. One day a 
funeral was to be performed at a large public-house 
called Ohsatoro, in the Shimmachi gay quarter 
in the city of Osaka. It was for the late old sing- 
ing girl named Mamekichi (Lucky Pea), over fifty 
years old, very popular among her old customers, 
and famous for her excellent accomplishments; in 
her puberty she was very beautiful, and was looked 
up to as the best flower among the great number 
of beauties blooming in the Shimmachi garden. 
She now closed her life of luxury and prosperity, 
having been awaked from her long dream by a 
cold wind of the early spring. 

From early morning the street where her house 
was situated was full of the bundles of natural and 
artificial flowers, wreathes, green branches of 
sakaki (Eurya Japonica) and shikimi (false star- 
anise) trees, coolies for carrying them, and rikisha 
for mourners; and near her house and surround- 
ing these flowers, a multitude of singing and 
dancing girls, waitresses and men and maidser- 
vants of neighbouring restaurants were standing 



1 In the feudal age a man had his hair tied to a queue 
at the top of the head. 

49 D 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

in groups and waiting to see the showy procession 
of the funeral. 

The hour for the departure of the funeral arrived, 
but no sign of it! How stood matters? After 
about thirty minutes passed, suddenly it was an- 
nounced that the funeral of the day was suspended, 
and at the same time the entrance of Ohsatoro 
was led to great disorder with the crowd of em- 
ploye'es and acquaintances who came in and out of 
the house. What was the cause of suspension of 
the funeral, a wonderful event never experienced 
among the people of the quarter? 

According to the report from a reliable source, 
there was a strange anecdote hidden behind the 
gorgeous life of the deceased. More than thirty 
years ago when the girl, Lucky Pea, was still an 
owner of the blushing cheek and downcast eye, and 
her influence governed the whole extent of the 
Shimmachi quarter, there took place an interesting 
love-affair about her, just as if to be read in a 
novel. 

In the spring of a year when the paper lanterns 
under the night cherry flowers in full bloom were 
attracting the customers and spectators into the 
gay quarter, a young man who happened to visit 
Ohsatoro was utterly fascinated by the beauty 
of the lovely girl, Lucky Pea; he was a handsome 
priest, very famous for his skilful sermon. Al- 
though it was strictly prohibited by the religious 
commandments to be interested with the female 
sex, yet he could not vanquish the strong tempta- 
tion, and haunted the house to see his dear night 
and day. 

At last he ransomed her with a tremendous sum 
of money, and lived together with her. It was not 
long before his dream of a temporary pleasure and 
prosperity was broken, and punishment for the 
violation of precepts came upon him. He took 
cold, became worse gradually, and died after only 

50 



THE GHOST OF A PRIEST. 



TRUE FEATURES OF GEISHA GIRLS 

one month. All the property belonging to his 
temple was taken into the hand of the girl's house, 
Ohsatoro. 

After the young wife of the priest was parted 
from her husband, she returned to Ohsatoro, and 
appeared as a singing girl again. What career of 
life she pursued afterwards we have no need to 
explain here. However, there spread a strange 
rumour of Ohsatoro soon after the death of the 
priest; singing and dancing girls who had been 
engaged to the restaurant were often trembling to 
talk that they had seen a horrible figure worn in 
a white priest's robe standing on the first floor of 
the house at about one in the night, and looking 
malevolently into the girl Lucky Pea's room 
facing the courtyard. 

We don't know whether the girl saw the spectre 
or not, but since she lay in the sick-bed, by and 
by, her action became eccentric ; sometimes she 
would run about in the room, brandishing a knife 
or razor in her hand. Day after day her maniacal 
conducts became furious, and at length she died 
raging about till the last moment of her miserable 
end. 

In addition to this, at the moment when her 
funeral was to be executed, another wonder took 
place. Her coffin was about to be taken out of her 
room when suddenly the dead body stood up in 
the box, throwing her long black hair to the outside 
of it, and next instant it lay down motionless in 
the coffin again ; this was the reason of the tem- 
porary suspension of the funeral. 



CHAPTER III 

ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF GIRLS 

IN restaurants and other houses we often see a 
game played with hands between girls and their 
guests. It is generally called ken (fist), which is 
a kind of mora. The game ken is one of the ac- 
complishments necessary to be trained by geisha 
girls; if guests are weary of singing, dancing, or 
talking, girls would challenge them to fight the 
game and enliven the dull air of the room. 

The hand game was transmitted from China, and 
most popularly played among the Japanese near the 
end of the Tokugawa Shogunate (A.D. 1867), but 
the whole country having soon fallen into the great 
confusion of the revolution war, the game, as well 
as all other light accomplishments, went almost out 
of fashion. After the Great Restoration of Meiji 
was completed, and people came to be happy by 
enjoying the peace, the game began to sprout 
again among the citizens of principal towns, and 
at last has become popular as it is at present, 
though not so prevailing as it was in the feudal 
age of Tokugawa. 

We can note a revolution in the game itself too 
at the same time. Before the Restoration, the 
Hon-ken (fist proper), or sometimes called the 
Nagasaki-ken, which is played with six kinds of 
the hand forms, was in vogue, but in the age of 
Meiji, as well as in the present time, another 

52 



ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF GIRLS 

system called the Tohachi-ken or Kitsune-ken (fox 
fist) took the place of it; the latter is played with 
only three forms of the hand, particulars of which 
will be explained hereafter. 

About the period (A.D. 1804-29), in the Toku- 
gawa age, the game of ken was welcomed at all 
banquets and played by both men and women 
mingled each other. On the occasion when it was 
ceremoniously played, a small arena specially made 
for the game was prepared, four pillars standing 
at its four corners, just as seen in the arena for 
wrestling matches (see " The Nightside of Japan " 
for particulars of the Japanese wrestling), and by 
one side of the ring there sat an umpire carrying 
a commanding fan in his hand. Being called forth 
by the umpire, two fighters took their seats on the 
opposite sides of the arena and bravely fought 
against each other, waving their hands and beating 
time by their loud cries. How courteous was their 
conduct and how grave their attitude on such a 
regular combating! 

The table of combatants was made, the first, 
second champions, etc., being selected and men- 
tioned in order. The game was not limited to be 
a pleasure in the drinking-bout, but merchants 
played it at their shops, artisans at tfheir works, 
farmers at their fields, and cooks at their kitchens. 

The Hon-ken or fundamental mora was first 
introduced to Japan by a Chinese, who came to 
Nagasaki and held a great entertainment at a res- 
taurant in the gay quarter of Maruyama in A.D. 
159(2 ; hence the Nagasaki-ken another name of it. 
When the pleasure of the party attained its high 
time, the party was divided into two parts, each of 
which sat down in a regular row facing against the 
other, and then the members of each party began 
to try the game against those of the opposite side. 

After fierce fightings, those who were defeated 
had to drink two or three big glasses of wine as 

53 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

forfeit. The girls, who were present in the hall 
on this occasion, were greatly pleased with the 
hand game entirely new to them, and, having 
thought that it was an art very interesting and 
most suitable for a sport in the room of a drinking 
party, they were taught by the Chinese of the new 
game, and studied it very earnestly. Propagation 
of the new art was so quick that it was already 
popular among the citizens of Nagasaki, Kyoto, 
Osaka, and even Yedo (Tokyo) in A.D, 1600, only 
eight years after the first importation by the 
Chinese. 

In Japan at present there are many kinds of the 
fist game, each of which differs from the others in 
the variations of the hand form and in the degrees 
of interest. They are Hon-ken (fundamental), 
Mushi-ken (insects), Yanagi-ken (willow tree), 
Uta-ken (songs), Tsuru-tsuru-ken (harmonious), 
Tora-ken (tiger), Sukui-dama-ken (scooping), 
Maze-ken (mixed), Taihei-ken (peaceful), Tohachi- 
ken, Ishi-ken (stone), and many others peculiar to 
different localities. We, however, cannot give par- 
ticulars for all these kinds of the game, but after 
briefly describing " fundamental " first, will ex- 
plain the Tohachi-ken, which is most popular at 
present among the society of geisha girls. 

The Hon-ken is played with the fist of the right 
hand by changing its form into six kinds ; when 
only the thumb is opened it shows one, the thumb 
and index-finger two, the middle, ring, and little 
fingers three, the thumb bent and the others opened 
four, all the fingers opened five, and if all bent 
the fist represents naught. In playing the game, 
one of the eleven numerals, one to ten and zero, 
is to be called out by each of the two fighters, 
summing up in anticipation the numbers of the 
fingers to be thrown out by them at the same 
time. 

A kind of light accomplishment as it was, yet the 

54 



ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF GIRLS 

arena, the umpire, and the helpers were regularly 
prepared for its ceremonious match held in old 
times, as already explained. On the arena there 
were erected the four pillars about five feet high, 
each of which was wrapped up with yellow, blue, 
red, and white cotton cloths, and its roof was 
covered with the cotton cloth too, checkered in 
white and black. The centre of the ring was a heap 
of sand, which was enclosed with gravels. In a 
word, it was a miniature imitation of the wrestling 
ring. 

First of all the umpire, who was dressed in the 
costume Kami-shimo, appeared near the arena and 
called forth a combatant from each of the two 
parties, the east and the west. Then, after loudly 
naming the heroes, he withdrew his commanding 
fan which had been put between the two hands on 
the arena; this was the notification for commence- 
ment of the match. He must be very attentive to 
the progress of fighters' hands, and give decision 
for each game. The beginning and close of each 
match was noticed with the clappers. 

The way of the Tohachi-ken, which is most 
popular at present, is simpler than that of the 
Hon-ken, the former being played with only three 
different forms of hands, while those of the latter 
consist of six; but the Tohachi is showy in its 
appearance, and far deeper in its interest, because 
the game is played with both hands at once, instead 
of a single hand in the Hon-ken. 

The three forms in the Tohachi game represent 
the fox, the gun, and the gentleman ; the fox is 
shown by the two hands, each with all five fingers 
quite opened and raised high up near one's fore- 
head, the gun by the two fists clinched tightly and 
stuck out towards the enemy, and the gentleman by 
the open hands put on one's own knees. Now the 
fox can bewitch the gentleman, and the gun shoot 
the fox, but not the gentleman ; thus gain and loss 

55 






THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

between the two fighters being clearly distinguished 
by these three forms. The three variations in the 
forms of the two fighters the fox showing the 
vertical action by opening the hands high above 
the head, the gun giving the cross section by 
stretching out the arms to the froint, and the gentle- 
man moulding the plane by haughtily placing the 
two hands flat on the knees are very interesting; 
that is, the positions of the combatants are inces- 
santly changed in bewitching, shooting, or sitting 
down proudly, their hands being opened or 
grasped, raised high up or taken low down. 

One game of the ken is settled by three succes- 
sive gains got by one of the fighters ; if he is beaten 
once or falls in the same form with the enemy in 
the course of a game, his one or two gains pre- 
viously got are cancelled, so that the game is to 
be renewed from the moment of nullification. No 
matter to obtain three gains by either different or 
same successive forms against the enemy, but if 
one and same form is used three times successively, 
he cannot be victorious unless he gets another 
fourth gain in addition to the three former; and if 
defeated in the fourth, unfortunately, of course, the 
former three gains are cancelled at once. Experts 
of the ken avoid to gain by use of the successive 
same forms in a game. 

In playing the fist game we should first take care 
of the style of the body and the make, positions and 
progress of the hands, and next make plans on 
victory ; as men are interested in playing it during 
the feast in general, they must not forget the beauty 
of their style and form at any time, and specially 
so are lovely girls who try the game mingled 
among their guests. 

The motions of the hands have to be always 
accompanied by the calls; if there is no call for 
each motion, the greater part of the life and interest 
of the game is cut off. Consequently the calls are 

56 




THREE FORMS OF THE TOHACHI MORA. 








X' 



\ 



SIX FORMS OF THE HON-KEN. 



ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF GIRLS 

studied together with the forms of hands and the 
style of body. 

A call should be short and simple, lively cried 
out at each motion of hands. As a game is settled 
by three successive gains, the calls consist of three 
words: one, two, three; Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka; 
Berlin, Paris, London; deaf, dumb, blind; plum, 
apple, cherry; junk, boat, steamer; tiger, lion, 
elephant; etc., etc. 

If the game is accompanied with the samisen per- 
formance it is far more interesting and enlivened, 
and the girls are as well trained in playing on the 
musical instrument as to harmonise with the 
motions of the combatants. 

The regular accomplishments necessary for 
geisha girls are singing, dancing, music, tea cere- 
mony, and floral arrangement. They learn each 
of these arts by its special teacher. As often ex- 
plained, the musical instrument most commonly 
used by the singing girls is samisen, the others, 
such as a drum, a flute, a hand-drum (tsusumi), 
a violin, and other European instruments, being / 
rarely used. Hence we can say that singing of 
geisha girls is always followed by playing on a 
samisen. 

Now let us see the features of these teachers on 
singing and samisen, in which chickens of geisha 
are generally trained in their very early age, while 
they are still at their own homes together with their 
parents. Of course we should not confound these 
teachers for little girls with those for the inde- 
pendent and professional girls ; the latter being 
the experts of the art, they make and teach new 
songs, or have to train and improve the girls' 
accomplishments which they had learnt in their 
childhood. 

We can study in Japan the European music at 
the public or private music schools established in 

57 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

Tokyo or other cities, but we must go to those 
samisen tutors or tutoresses if we wish to taste 
the interest, to make a study, or to get a pleasure 
on our national music. Not only for the samisen 
music, but also for all other light accomplish- 
ments, there is the head for each art, and all men 
and women must first get his permission to be 
tutors and tutoresses on the accomplishment under 
his influence. So all of them who are teaching 
an art independently at their own houses are 
treated as the disciples of its head. 

In the city of Tokyo these tutors and tutoresses 
on samisen and singing are so numerous that their 
number can be compared with that of public bath- 
houses or hairdressers. Moreover, the greater 
part of them are tutoresses, only a part consisting 
of males. We can find a female teacher of sami- 
sen living in a small fashionable house situated 
in a narrow side-street; the entrance to the house 
is shut with the doors of lattice-work, delicately 
made of slender pieces of wood and cleanly washed 
and wiped every morning. At the inside of the 
lattice doors there hangs a large round paper 
lantern, upon which the name of the tutoress and 
the crest representing a school of songs are men- 
tioned. The ways of playing on samisen and the 
kinds of its songs are divided into many schools, 
each of which has a fixed crest or badge to distin- 
guish its own school from others. 

A little girl some seven or eight years old comes 
to a tutoress's lattice door, accompanied by her 
mother, and, opening it, they approach the step- 
stone inside. The tutoress herself appears and 
receives the new-comers with hospitality. Being 
asked to teach the little girl, she is very glad to 
accept the proposal, and at once, on the verv day 
of admission, tries to teach a first step of singing 
and playing on samisen. The entrance-fee costs 
fifty sen to one yen, and the monthly fee is one to 

58 



ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF GIRLS 

two yen. As the rehearsal of pupils is held 
monthly, it is common that each of them pay fifty 
sen to one yen as the present to the tutoress on 
the occasion. 

Pupils of a samisen tutoress, however, are not 
limited to little girls, but young and sometimes 
older men are found, generally after dark, study- 
ing these arts under guidance of the weak female. 
For instance, a young man in the appearance of 
artisan and dressed in his stylish clothes enters the 
lattice door, saying " Good evening," and the 
young tutoress, some twenty-five years old, bids 
welcome with a charming smile. He is shown to 
a room and served with a cushion (zabuton), tea, 
and tobacco. If another pupil is learning a song 
at this time, the new-comer has to wait until the 
former finishes his lesson. Then the artisan is 
invited to take a seat near a lectern at just the 
opposite side to the beautiful teacher. 

At first he is only to mimic the tutoress in 
singing, and, after two or three days, comes to 
understand the accent and interest of two or three 
lines of a song. The lesson hour spent for a person 
is twenty or thirty minutes every evening. After 
the lesson is finished some of the pupils are pleased 
to gossip with the young chic mistress. We are 
often told that a tutoress has married one of her 
disciples, to the great disappointment of all other 
ambitious dandies. 

The relation between a samisen teacher and the 
pupils seems to be entirely different from that of 
those in school ; a tutoress treats her pupils like 
her guests or customers, entertaining them with 
smiles at any time, though she may feel sometimes 
disagreeable in her mind for some of them. 

As we have said that there are different schools 
of samisen and its songs, poems or songs sung 
with accompaniment of samisen are so many that 
we cannot easily enumerate them at once, and if 

59 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

we classify them by tune, the difference of schools 
can be understood of itself. The songs very 
common among the geisha girls are Hauta (short 
songs), Nagauta (love songs), Kiyomoto and Toki- 
wa2u y and then there come Tomimoto, Shinnai, 
Kato, Ogiye, Itchu, and Sonohachi. If we wish 
to know these several kinds of songs we would be 
satisfied by hiring elder girls of the first-class 
among geisha circles of Yoshiwara, Yanagibashi 
(Willow Bridge), and Shimbashi (New Bridge). 

Next we have to explain other accomplishments 
of geisha girls, such as dancing, music, tea cere- 
mony, and floral arrangement, but we are afraid 
that if they are described as much as they can be 
wholly understood by you, they would take a big 
bulk of pages, so they are left here, and the full 
particulars of them will be given in another book. 



60 




THE HON-KEN IN PLAYING. 



CHAPTER IV 

A GIRL ROYALIST 

*>. ""1 

AN autobiographic sketch of an old geisha girl will 
be given here: 

I was born in Yedo (old Tokyo), and am fifty 
years old now. Yet I am taking the profession of 
geisha girl in this old age; the reason is that, on 
one side, a daughter of mine being the hostess of 
a restaurant, its customers are glad to hire me to 
be a superintendent over young girls, and that, 
on the other, my old customers and acquaintances, 
who are now risen to cabinet ministers, merchant 
princes, great statesmen or generals, always send 
for me to attend in their entertainments, and are 
pleased to talk with me about old events in their 
youth. If I give up my business I cannot see my 
old friends, and, moreover, unless I am pursuing 
my business and meet them often, I could not have 
been happy to enjoy those interesting gossipings 
- with them by recollecting my old memories. 

My father was called Tahei Kyoya, a rich and 
famous wholesale merchant of lacquer, who lived 
in the Nihonbashi Ward in Yedo, and after the 
great restoration of Meiji era, ventured to carry 
on the foreign trade. I was born between him 
and a geisha girl of the Fukagawa circle, one 
of the most noted girl quarters of Yedo in this 
period. 

When I was three years old his wife died, and 

61 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

I was to be taken to his house together with my 
mother, but as she did not accept his kind pro- 
posal regarding the name of his shop as well as 
his relatives, I was alone taken to the side of my 
father. 

Although he was a merchant, he had a close 
connection with the Government officials of the 
period. The time when I was born was the crisis 
for the Tokugawa Government, and my father had 
intimate but secret intercourse with those enthu- 
siasts who had come up from their local provinces 
of their feudal lords to the city and contrived to 
upset the foundations of the Tokugawa family, 
which continued its reign for three hundred years; 
indeed he was loyal to the emperor, and much 
interested in intimacy with these Samurai. 

My mother was not an ordinary coquette 
usually found among the society of geisha girls. 
Her name was Nakakichi Obanaya, well known 
as one of the most flourishing girls at the Middle 
Street of Fukagawa. Long before she was patron- 
ised by my father, the lacquer merchant, there was 
an interesting love story regarding herself. 



About A.D. 1818, when she was young and cele- 
brated for her beauty and accomplishments as one 
of the first-class girls in Fukagawa, she always 
betrayed her dauntless character peculiar to the 
natives of Yedo, and was very famous by the 
name of ' The Chivalrous Girl of Fukagawa." 
The Fukagawa girls of the first-class in this age 
were very high-toned, and generally did not like 
to attend on the guests in the rank lower than the 
daimyo or feudal nobles. 

At this time she was under the favour of a 
patron, Sakakibara Awaji-no-kami, who was a 
powerful noble as the regent of the Tokugawa 
Government. In the meantime there sprang up 

62' 



A GIRL ROYALIST 

a great and difficult question on the succession of 
the lord in the Mito family, one of the cadet 
families^pf the Tokugawa. In spite of the exis- 
tence of the legitimate heir, Keizaburo, in the Mito 
house, the Shogunal Government intended, out 
of their policy, to adopt a son of the Hitotsubashi, 
another cadet family, for the new lord of Mito, 
and there took place a severe strife between the 
two parties, Mito and Hitotsubashi. The head 
of the Mito party was Heihachiro Udono, one of 
the chief retainers of the Mito family, and that 
of the Hitotsubashi party, Sakakibara, the patron 
of the girl Nakakichi. 

Udono of Mito had been told of the chivalrous 
fame of Nakakichi, and at the same time her being 
favoured by his enemy, Sakakibara, but had had 
no occasion to meet her as yet. Now he thought 
that if he could utilise her he could crush the plot 
of his adversary, though it was not easy to ap- 
proach her, the favourite of his foe. After great 
cares and troubles, and by the help of a purveyor 
to the Mito house, he could manage to meet her 
in a restaurant, Hiranoya at Ryogoku. 

In a clean and stylish room of Hiranoya a 
man and a geisha girl sat opposite to each other; 
the man was Udono, the chief of the Mito party, 
and the girl Nakakichi, the sweetheart of Sakaki- 
bara, the head of the Hitotsubashi party. Silence 
was first broken by the firm but suppressed voice 
of the man : 

11 1 have a serious matter/' spoke he secretly, 
" which I ask your help for; it was long I wished 
to see you and tell the matter to you, because I 
well know your chivalrous spirit. If you under- 
stand that it is an important affair of State, will 
you help me and carry out your duty for the 
country even by giving up your dear patron? 
First let me know your firm resolution. " 

At first the girl was surprised by an unexpected 

63 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

requirement of the Samurai, but after a moment 
thought that the question must be a very impor- 
tant matter, otherwise the leader of the opposite 
party would not have applied to a girl like her. 
At once she decided in her mind that she would 
accept his request if the question could be settled 
by her weak hand. 

" I cannot imagine what the matter is, sir," 
replied the girl in her composed attitude, " and 
being in necessity to be told to a geisha girl like 
me by a man of quality as you are, it must be an 
extraordinary case. If I could serve somehow for 
the State I would be glad to do my best even by 
giving up my benefactor and sacrificing myself." 

" Much obliged for your brave acceptance," 
thanked he with a satisfactory smile. " Your 
manliness is far more than your fame. Now I 
will tell you particulars of the affair; and can you 
swear to help me? " 

" I'll swear, sir, if the matter is not beyond my 
power," responded she briskly. " I will be glad 
to hazard my life for it." 

" It is within your power," continued the loyal 
Samurai, " and there is nobody but you to execute 
the great deed. Now listen to me carefully, Naka- 
kichi. As you know already, our lord of Mito 
died and left his testament, appointing Mr Keiza- 
buro, his son, to be his successor, but his dishonest 
retainer called Tajima Iwami stole and gave it to 
the regent Sakakibara, your patron. The two are 
now in contrivance of appointing a son of Hitot- 
subashi for the new lord of Mito. If the project 
be realised, there would follow a great confusion 
which should disturb the social order in the peace- 
ful reign of the present Shogunate. Consequently 
we are troubling ourselves night and day how to 
take back the testament of our late lord. As you 
are in the intimate relation with Sakakibara who 
keeps it in His pocket, we ask you to steal it from 



A GIRL ROYALIST 

him and give it back to us for the sake of the 
peace of the mi miry- JT^TTpih^jTrn Udono, 
humbly beseech you to help us in the name of the 
lord of Mito." 

However manly and undaunted was the char- 
acter of Nakakichi as the specimen of Yedo geisha 
with an unyielding spirit, she was puzzled for some 
minutes how to manage the matter. Though she 
was proud herself of her spirit, yet she was nothing 
more than a geisha girl, for whom the burden now 
brought out was too great and heavy. It seemed 
to her that it was doubtful whether she could be 
successful in such a tremendous undertaking even 
by betraying her kind and benevolent master. 
She reconsidered, however, that instead of being 
slighted as a mean professional girl, she was told 
by the loyal Samurai with a great secret and 
serious affair, relying upon her chivalrous spirit; 
and having been now affected by his loyalty to 
his lord and his confidence upon herself, she at 
last made a firm determination upon the question. 

" I understand you, sir," was her staid answer; 
11 it must be absolutely necessary for you to employ 
me for the solution of the present question. I 
cannot assure you whether I can succeed or not, 
but I would try to do my best." 

l< Many thanks," said Udono, in his rapturous 
state on hearing her words. " Succession of the 
Mito family will be legitimately carried out by 
your kindness, and no disturbance of the peace 
for ever! Now you have a strong mind even to 
stab your patron if necessary ?" 

"I shall do the work by hazarding my life," 
replied she most seriously. " The testament will 
be taken back and sent to you within three days, 
but if it will not arrive to you by the end of the 
term you would take me to have been killed!" 
She swore with her brave and manly resolution. 

Though she had firmly promised Udono to 

65 E 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

accomplish his object, yet she cogitated on the 
means how to deprive her patron of the testament 
of the Mito lord; she thought that as the -docu--. 
ment was a very important piece de conviction 
for settlement of the question of succession he 
would not keep it at any place easy to be dis- 
covered, and that whether it was concealed in his 
Vibrary or always carried in his pocket it was 
Almost impossible to get it into her hand by any 
ordinary step. But if she breach her oath she 
should have been robbed of her fame as v the 
chivalrous Nakakichi, and at the same time the 
peace of the State broken. Now she fell in great 
troubles. 

While she was in a deep rumination there 
occurred to her a matter by which she was re- 
vived to her animation she recollected that she 
had been told by her patron, Sakakibara, as 
follows : 

He had to invite Tajima Iwami, the chief re- 
tainer of Mito, to the restaurant Ryukotei at 
Hachiman Street, Fukagawa, this night, and she 
should come immediately to entertain the guest, 
as she would be sent for at the appointed time. 
The two men had a secret to be discussed most 
privately, by keeping away all the geisha girls 
and waitresses, but she alone would be allowed to 
be present in the room in order to treat the guest 
most hospitably. 

The deliberation with Tajima, the chief vassal 
of Mito, she thought, should have some connec- 
tion with the testament, and her man, Sakakibara, 
would bring it there in his pocket. Her aim could 
probably be attained if he had it ; she might intoxi- 
cate him with sake (wine) and cheat him with her 
experienced tricks, or if failed in this step, she 
had no other resource but to stab him ! With this 
formidable decision she prepared a dagger in her 
bosom. 

66 








?v1 I 



A GIRL ROYALIST 

Soon after getting dark, a messenger came to 
her from Ryukotei, and after dressing quickly 
she went to the restaurant. As expected, the 
guest of the evening was Tajima-no-kami Iwami, 
invited by Sakakibara, her patron. At once all 
sorts of delicacies were brought into the room by 
seven singing and dancing girls, assisted by 
waitresses of the house. 

As the host of the banquet, Sakakibara was very 
attentive to treat the guest, and Nakakichi, con- 
ducting herself very cleverly, never missed a 
chance to cheer up both the host and the guest, 
as much as they would get drunk quickly; in the 
meantime the younger girls were singing and 
dancing, while the elder ones were playing on 
samisen. 

After a round of merry-making, Tajima Iwami 
opened his mouth, " Mr Sakakibara, we shall 
speak about the matter now?" Then the latter 
ordered his girl to have all the girls and maids 
withdrawn from the room except herself alone. 

The two men edged up and took to a secret de- 
liberation. After about half an hour Sakakibara 
^took out a note from his pocket-book and showed 
'it to Iwami. At this moment the heart of Naka- 
kichi throbbed, but feigning herself to be uncon- 
cerned, she stole a glance at the note. Lo ! it was 
the testament of the Mito lord, with the announce- 
ment appointing his son, Keizaburo, to be his 
successor. 

Resolving that she should not miss the oppor- 
tunity of the evening, she thought there was no 
means for her better than to entrap them into the 
state dead-drunk. She came out of the room, and, 
after ordering new wine and dishes, told other 
girls and maidservants to be very attentive and to 
endeavour for merry-making as much as they 
could, because the guest of the evening was a 
very important gentleman for her patron. 

87 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

Clapping hands l was heard in the room of the 
two gentleman, and Nakakichi hurried immediately 
for it. Coming into the room, she found that the 
private consultation between the two had been 
already finished, and, as she expected, her patron 
ordered her to bring sake and call all the girls 
again. She was glad in herself that she might 
be successful in her plan. 

Then there followed a new revel assisted by 
younger and elder girls, Nakakichi making efforts 
to let the two men drink hard, to drive them into 
the state of intoxication and insensibility, of 
course on one side stirring them up with noisy 
sound of songs and music, or loud talking and 
laughter of girls. 

Late in the night Tajima Iwami at last lay down 
dead-drunk, and was sent home by a palanquin. 
Next the patron of Nakakichi laid his head on her 
knee in place of a pillow, and at last fell in sound 
sleep, snoring loudly. After dismissing all girls, 
she tried to wake him, shaking his body and say- 
ing, " My lord, don't take cold; awake, my lord, 
awake!" But his snoring was like thunder. 

Having ascertained that she could do anything 
upon him now, she put out all the candle lights in 
the room and tried to say once more, " My lord! 
My dear! " but no response at all. Out of his 
bosom slowly she took out his pocket-book, and 
no sooner had she plucked out the note. than she 
slinked off from the room. When she got out 
of the door of the restaurant she ran away for the 
north at the top of her speed. 

On the way she could hire a street palanquin, 
and it was about dawn when she arrived at the 
residence of Udono at the Shitaya Ward, the bell- 
tower of the temple on the hill Uyeno tolling four 

1 Clapping hands was a custom in Japan as a way for 
calling a servant in the place of ringing a bell, as it is often 
found even at present. 

68 






A GIRL ROYALIST 

on the morning. Being introduced into the par- 
lour, she handed the note to Udono, who on the 
spot opened and looked over it together with his 
associates, who were all the loyal retainers of 
Mito and staying in the house of Udono. When 
it was acknowledged by him that the note was 
the very testament written by their late lord, they 
unanimously expressed their hearty thanks to 
the gallant girl, the eyes of all the brave Samurai 
being filled with the tears of joy. 

In consequence of the bold attempt of a weak 
and young geisha girl, the question of succession 
in the Mito family was at once settled. A friend 
of Udono acting as a go-between, Nakakichi be- 
came the wife of Heihachiro Udono. 



After my mother, Nakakichi, married Udono, 
she gave up her gallant habit, and was a very 
obedient and faithful wife to her husband. 

It was in this period that the American and 
the European vessels appeared near the coasts 
of Japan and that the conflicts between the 
Imperialists and the Shogunalists were raging 
through the country. Udono being one of the 
Imperialists, his house was the resort of chief 
loyalists who came up from local provinces, and 
most of the expenses for the Mito ronins were sup- 
plied by Kyoya, a rich merchant in Yokoyamacho, 
Yedo the patron of my mother afterwards and 
my father. Udono often told his wife, " Kyoya 
is a chivalrous fellow though he is a merchant. 
I don't know when and where I may be killed 
or die, and after my death you would rely on 
him." 

My mother appeared in Yoshiwara as a dancing 
girl in her thirteenth year of age, and after ten 
years of her brilliant life as a chivalrous singing 
girl at Fukagawa, she became the wife of Udono 

69 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

at her age of twenty-three. She could not, how- 
ever, be long to enjoy her life of the happy home, 
for her husband died in prison next year. 

Upon his sudden death she grieved so bitterly 
that she would have converted herself to a nun if 
she had not had the heavy burden to sustain her 
old mother and younger sister. She did not like, 
however, to resume her experienced business as a 
singing girl in the city of Yedo, because she was 
afraid to disgrace the name of her late husband. 
After pondering in several ways, the three removed 
to Kyoto, the capital of the age and the site of the 
Imperial Palace, and she again appeared as a 
geiko (geisha) girl of the name Hisaei from a girl- 
house Yamadaya of the Gion quarter. 

Her excellent beauty, her refined accomplish- 
ments, and her being a pure Yedo girl immediately 
attracted the attention of the Kyoto fops, and at 
once she acquired the fame of the No. i girl in 
the Gion circle. She became so famous and pros- 
perous that there were no gentlemen who visited 
a Gion restaurant and did not know the name of 
Hisaei. 

Conflicts between the two parties, Imperialists 
and Shogunalists, having been fiercer in Kyoto 
than in Yedo, the Samurai who came up from their 
native provinces into the capital increased in their 
number more and more, and almost all meetings 
of these loyalists were held in the restaurants of 
Gion. 

Among loyal Samurai staying in the capital, 
there was a young man called Kogoro Katsura; 
he was a retainer of the Lord Mori in Choshu 
province, and was taking charge of the palace of 
his lord in Kyoto. Lord Mori having been a most 
powerful anti-Shogunalist, Katsura was also an 
enthusiastic loyalist, and made efforts to induce 
the ronins of various clans into his party by util- 
ising the frequent meetings at Gion. Hence all 

70 





B. 



A. A KAGO OR PALANQUIN FOR A DAIMYO 
(FEUDAL LORD). 

B. A TSUJI-KAGO OR PUBLIC PALANQUIN FOR 
CITIZENS. 



A GIRL ROYALIST 

chief restaurants and public-houses in Kyoto were 
well acquainted with Katsura, and in the enter- 
tainments held by him every day and night Hisaei 
was always engaged by him. 

In consequence of Katsura's special favour for 
her, at length she fell in love with him. Being 
the chief Imperialist and the leader of ronins, he 
was always tracked by assassins sent out by the 
opposite party ; in these days there were many 
loyalists who had been arrested and put to death 
by Jhe spies of the Shogunal Government. The 
danger upon Katsura's life became imminent day 
after day, and he troubled himself where to take 
refuge safe to escape the strict researches of the 
enemy. At last he resolved to consult Hisaei, 
though he felt that it was too shiftless to rely on 
a female in the class of geisha girls. 

Late in a night Hisaei was unexpectedly visited 
by her lover, and received him with great joy. 
After he told the particulars of his present situa- 
tion, he added, l< I am in such a dangerous 
situation at present, and I shall be much obliged 
if you will be kind enough to shelter me at your 
house for the time being." 

" If you can be generous to bear discomforts to 
stay in such a hut," replied she heartily with no 
hesitation, " I shall be glad to shelter you for my 
heart." 

Thus Katsura took refuge in the little house of 
the geisha girl who had been once famous for her 
chivalrous spirit in Yedo. 

It seemed, however, that the men of the Sho- 
gunal party had not searched long before they 
were informed of Katsura's new concealment. In 
daytime he lay down and slept on the mattings 
spread under the floor, and in night went out to 
reconnoitre the condition of the enemy or to attend 
the secret meetings of his confederates. But 
lately, as it was very dangerous to go out even in 

71 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

the night, he confined himself in the house, his 
only consolation being to drink and eat together 
with his girl late in night. 

One night he crept out of the under-floor as 
usual and was tasting cups of sake, waited upon 
by his kind sweetheart. At the time when he 
drained two or three cups, suddenly the noise of 
footsteps was heard near the door of the house. 
At an instant he blew out the light and hid himself 
into the closet of the room. Though the door was 
so furiously knocked that it was almost to be broken 
down, and the loud cries of a number of men were 
heard threatening to break into the house, the girl 
was watching the state of the matter in the outside, 
sitting down near by the closet and making no 
sound. 

'* Open the door,'* cried one of the men outside; 
"if not we shall break it down and force in!" 
And violent knockings followed again. 

" Who are you ? " asked Hisaei in her calm tone 
as usual. ' This is the dwelling-house of a geisha 
girl called Hisaei. If you have any business for 
me please come to-morrow morning. I cannot see 
any unacquainted man in such a midnight." 

"No need of 'who'!" cried one. "If you 
delay the door shall be broken!" At the same 
time it was about to be destroyed by some of them, 
and as soon as she stood up and unlocked the 
latch, saying, " Why are you so violent? " a body 
of more than ten Samurai pushed in the house. 
At once they encircled the girl, all of them carry- 
ing naked swords in their hands. 

"Don't move, bitch!" cried one of them. 
' Where is Katsura ? Show us to him or you 
shall be punished." 

" He doesn't come to me in these days, sir," 
replied the girl. 

'Don't tell a lie!" rebuked another Samurai. 
' We have come here after having ascertained his 

72 



A GIRL ROYALIST 

presence in this house." At every word he spoke 
his white blade glittered near her face. 

" However you may accuse me, he is not here," 
declared she persistently in spite of their threaten- 
ing. 

They thought it was useless to make further in- 
quiries to her, and crying " Search, search ! " they 
lighted andon (a Japanese standing square paper 
lantern) which they could hardly find by groping. 

When a female gathers up her courage she is 
bolder than a man. As Hisaei had resolved her- 
self to care nothing whatever, she did not fear 
their menace with the naked blades, but she was 
afraid that if her house was searched all over her 
lover would be discovered at once. 

On the point of going to search, she caught the 
sleeve of a Samurai who appeared to be the leader 
of the party. " It is unreasonable to search my 
house in spite of my presence," twitted she gravely. 
1 Though I am a geisha girl, yet I am the hostess 
of the house. If you insist to search, let me know 
your reason for it." 

' We search," replied he, " as we think Katsura 
is here. Don't trouble us or you shall be tied up." 

'Tie or kill me as you please!" retorted she, 
"but remember that the bone of the Yedo girl is 
strong!" 

"Let go the sleeve anyhow, you jade!" cried 
the chief, and, catching her hair at the same time, 
he pulled her over. All the men began to search 
every corner of her house. 

The girl did not loose her firm hold of his sleeve, 
and controlling her tears, she questioned him, " If 
Mr Katsura was not here how would you do for 
me?" 

11 I am sure he is here," replied he, "but if he 
were not we will give you our heads." 

" Give your head ? That's funny ! Well, search 
anywhere! " 

73 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

"Of course we shall!" 

" Are you sure, the head? " 

"Sure!" 

The chief and others were surprised by the 
girl who expected to have them beheaded, some 
of them gazing at her face for a few moments. 
Soon they set about searching again, and her heart 
throbbed high when one of them opened the door 
of the closet. In the closet they found a heap of 
beddings, but no trace of Katsura. They went 
through every part of the house, up the ceiling and 
down the floor, but could not discover him after 
all. Hisaei wondered how her lover had escaped 
from the crisis, and at the same moment thanked 
for heaven's blessings. 

Being disappointed by the miss, the party of 
Samurai was about to withdraw from the house 
when she stopped the chief and said, " Give me 
your head, sir." 

" Don't joke," replied he, laughing. 

"No joke," said she earnestly. "You pro- 
mised me to give it, and now should not be double- 
tongued! " 

He was silenced and ran away together with his 
men. 

Katsura had slipped out of the closet and slunk 
away over the roof through the dark, while his 
enemies outside were disputing with his girl inside 
and threatening her to break the door. After they 
went away she felt relieved, but next moment there 
sprang up in her mind the uneasiness for his wel- 
fare; she wondered how he could get rid of the 
enemy's capture, in spite of his having confined 
himself in the closet. To verify the matter her- 
self, once more she searched all parts of the house, 
but could not find even his trace. As she began to 
feel uneasy more and more, she prayed an earnest 
prayer for his safety. 

Kogoro Katsura, who had escaped by the skin 

74 



A GIRL ROYALIST 

of his teeth from the hands of the assassins, took 
refuge at various places, disguising himself; at a 
time he obscured himself among groups of beggars 
under the bridge Sanjo, at another night trans- 
formed into a shampooer, whistling through the 
street, or sometimes acted a servant at a public 
bath-house. 

The girl Hisaei endeavoured to search him out, 
and at last could find him disguised as a porter 
at the stage of Awadaguchi on the highway west 
to the capital. Though she took him to her house, 
it was very dangerous for him to stay long here, 
and she entrusted him to Ikuzo Ota, a Samurai 
of the Tsushima clan and one of her well-acquainted 
customers, to shelter him temporarily. 

Once when there had taken place a trouble 
between the Shogunate Government and the 
Tsushima clan, it had been peacefully settled 
down by the efforts of Katsura, and now at the 
crisis of their benefactor, Ota, a retainer of the 
Tsushima lord, willingly accepted the confidence 
of Hisaei. Katsura was soon taken into the house 
of Ota late in night, but in a few days, the fact 
being known to neighbours, the strict precautions 
were taken by him against the sudden intrusion 
of the officers of the Shogunal Government. 

One night, at last, they broke into the conceal- 
ment, and at the moment when they were about 
to catch their victim, he could hardly escape from 
the peril by the help of his smart girl again. 
Having been obstructed again by her, they were 
furiously enraged, and, after binding her up, took 
her into custody to their station at Shijo. There 
she was cruelly tortured by them to confess the 
whereabouts of her lover, but as she insisted on 
ignorance of anything regarding him, at last they 
were overcome with her iron will, and set her free 
after a few days. 

After she was released from the station she went 

75 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIR] 

to the mansion of the Tsushima clan, and 
under protection of Ota. She was anxious 
Katsura's fate, and though she had made inquiri( 
through his confederates, she could know nothing 
about him. 

In the meantime half a year passed and her old 
mother, over sixty years old, and her younger sister 
having fallen in heavy sickness both together, her 
living gradually became hard up. One day in th< 
eighth month after she parted with her lover sh< 
unexpectedly received his letter brought by a 
courier from Tajima, a province north-west to the 
city. His address was not given, but only " In a 
mountain " was mentioned in it. 

The letter ran as follows : 

"... I beg your pardon for my long negli- 
gence to write you. I have to lie low for half a 
year more here, as it is very dangerous still for me 
to make appearance in the city nowadays. You 
should not come to Tajima or I shall be discovered 
by the enemy soon. I regret to say that even if I 
could succeed in my plan in future, yet it is doubt- 
ful whether we can make a happy home and live 
together. Consequently I advise you that it would 
be better for you to carry on your business again 
or rely on another kind gentleman ; my body being 
sacrificed to the State, you should anticipate that 
I may die a violent death at any time. 

" Enclosed please find a sum of money as the 
allowance for the time being, and I shall send more 
at the next opportunity. . . ." 

She found fifty ryo wrapped in the letter. 
Though she was very glad to have heard of her 
lover's safety, yet she rued on his cruel instruc- 
tions ; in spite of her firm resolution that she would 
wait for his return, after he had succeeded in his 
plan on behalf of the State, she was unexpectedly 
offered by him with the separation of the two. 




o 

pq 

li 

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<J Pi 



A GIRL ROYALIST 

How bitterly she wept, putting her face upon the 
letter when she had read it through ! 

One autumn night, about three months after she 
had got the sad communication from " In a moun- 
tain " of Tajima, she was secretly visited by one 
of the friends of Katsura. In the night rain was 
falling in torrents, and, being awakened by the 
knocks on the door, she opened it and found there 
a young man named Shunsuke Ito (late Prince Ito) 
standing along the doorway. Though she was 
surprised to see him disguised into a mendicant 
priest, she could not help to shed tears of joy, 
expecting to have any recent news of her lover from 
him. She introduced him into her room, and 
served him a futon (cushion) and tea. 

" I am very glad to see you," said she, wiping 
her eyes with her sleeve. " You are very kind to 
call on me, in spite of the heavy rain. But I 
wonder why you are in such a form." 

"Yes, yes, you are quite right," replied Ito, 
smiling. "If I go about the city careless I shall 
be killed, but I should not yet die until our great 
undertaking has been attained." 

While the two were talking on the matters re- 
lating to the disturbance between the Imperialists 
and the Shogunalists in the city, not touching even 
a bit of Katsura's subject, she entertained him with 
wine and dishes. 

After a time Ito referred to her lover at last, and 
began to tell her gravely, delivering her a letter 
from him. 

"Please read the letter," said Ito, "and you 
will well understand his real intention very kind 
to you." 

Hisaei opened the letter and read as follows : 

" . I believe that you have seen my letter 
which was sent to you by a messenger the other 
day. In order to relieve the State from the great 

77 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

troubles at the present time I should sacrifice 
myself and enter a family as an adopted son upon 
a policy. I am not so dishonest as to deceive a 
girl like you, but we should separate now when it 
is necessary to do so in consideration of the affairs 
of State ; you would give up our relation up to 
date to have been a dream. If I be fortunate to 
survive and could succeed in my plan, I would not 
fail to reward you for your kindness and fidelity. 

" I advise you that hereafter you would rely on 
a man called Tahei Kyoya, who lives at Yokoya- 
macho, Kyobashi, in Yedo. He is a rich merchant 
with the chivalrous spirit very rare among business 
men at present. As I have written him already, 
you would be better go to him and consult him 
about your future. . . ." 

In the letter one hundred ryo was enclosed too. 

*When she read it through her look changed 
suddenly. " I understand,'* said she briefly, and 
fell in the deep meditation. 

"Did you understand?" asked Ito. " Many 
thanks; I admire your manly spirit! " Tears were 
in his eyes when he said so, sympathising with 
her in her sorrow and disappointment. 

" He says we must part on account of the 
national troubles," replied she; "and I shall do 
so without hesitation. But please tell him only 
that whatever life I shall have to live in future I 
am always praying for his rise in the world. And 
as I cannot accept this money you will kindly 
return this to him." 

"Don't trouble yourself of the money!" said 
Ito, pushing the money near her. " This is his 
present to you, but never means a solatium for 
severing relations; if you don't receive this I shall 
be much troubled." 

"No, I can never receive this!" insisted she, 
pushing it back to him. 



A GIRL ROYALIST 

It was near dawn when I to left the girl's house, 
and he ran away after leaving the money between 
the lattice-work of the door. 

Hisaei was in bed and did not eat for a few 
days, but her manly soul awakened herself to think 
of the future of her family. Her old mother and 
younger sister were in their sick beds, and if she 
would not work now all the three should be starved 
to death. Though one hundred ryo was left by 
Ito, it was not hers, but should be sent back to 
Katsura whenever his refuge would be known to 
her. What course of life should she take? At 
last she determined to be a geisha girl again, and 
reappeared from the girl-house Yamadaya. 

Being famous by the nickname of " Royalist 
Girl," her new and old customers were afraid of 
hiring her, because anybody who called her was 
suspected by the Shogunal officers to be one of the 
party of Imperialists, and in consequence she could 
not prosper even by one-tenth comparing to the 
time when she had been popular before she was 
taken under the favour of Katsura. Yet she had 
to spend a big sum of money for her two invalids, 
and her debts from her employer Yamadaya were 
redoubled. 

Being hard to lead the life at Kyoto, she thought 
whether she would go back to Yedo or run far 
away to the flourishing trade-port, Nagasaki in 
Kyushu Island, but the two at her home being 
heavily ill, it was difficult to remove to a distant 
place. 

One evening she was engaged to Ichiriki, 
the first restaurant of Gion, and she saw in the 
hall a gentleman about forty-five or six years old, 
alone sitting down upon a cushion (zabuiori). 

14 Don't you remember me, Miss Hisaei?" 
asked he in the Yedo dialect when she knelt down 
and saluted him. 

On the instant she recollected that he was Tahei 

79 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIR] 

Kyoya, whom she had often seen when she ha< 
been the wife of the late Udono in Yedo. 

" I beg your pardon for not having recogni* 
you,'* replied she, blushing her face. " I am 
much ashamed to meet you in such a situation 
again." 

"Never mind, miss," said the kind merchant; 
" I have come to Kyoto, having received a letter 
from Mr Katsura." Then he told her that he 
would take charge of her mother and sister as well 
as herself. 

She was very glad to hear his kind words, but 
reconsidered that it was regretful for her to 
favoured by a man without any special reason. 
Again she reflected upon her hard situation, and 
at the same time remembering the personality of 
Kyoya and the instruction of Katsura, she re- 
solved to rely on his kindness. After a few days 
she left Kyoto and settled her home at Hamacho, 
Nihombashi. She was twenty-eight years old 
then, and I was born after three years. 

I have told half the life of my mother, and next 
a story of my experiences as a geisha girl will be 
given. 



80 



CHAPTER V 

A STORY OF AN OLD WOMAN WELL EXPERIENCED AS 
A GEISHA GIRL 

WHEN I was twelve years old my father, Tahei 
Kyoya, failed in his foreign trade, and was com- 
pelled to shelter himself temporarily in my mother's 
house. How discouraged was he who had been 
once so gallant and enterprising ! His property, 
which had amounted to more than three hundred 
thousand yen, was lost within less than ten years 
only. 

One evening he complained, " If I had one or 
two hundred yen at least I could have tried a specu- 
lation." 

Hearing this my mother's chivalric soul was 
raised on the instant. 

"Never mind, my dear/' said she, "I shall 
make the money you want." 

" How can you make it, my love? " asked he, 
wondering at her words. 

" If I had been younger I would have been a 
geisha girl again, but now my age is too old for a 

T! profession. In lieu of me I think to send out 
ryu (my name) on service as a dancing girl." 
At first he did not consent to her proposal, being 
afraid of disgracing his honour, but at last agreed 
in her opinion on condition that his name should 
never be mentioned to my employer. Thus I was 
sent to a geisha-house in Yoshiwara, and it was 

81 F 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

in my fourteenth year when I made my first 
appearance as a dancing girl (oshaku) by the name 
of Sakae (prosperity). 

Since the time when I was seven years old I had 
been taught by my mother on singing, dancing, 
and samis en-playing, and learned the songs which 
even the singing girls at present do not know. So, 
young and childish as I was, I was always wel- 
comed by guests as well as by elder girls. 

One moonlight evening in autumn a large house- 
boat (Yane-bune) was rowed out on the stream of 
the River Sumida ; in the boat there were Prince 

T , Baron E , the dramatist F , the 

poet K , and the host of Yaozen, the first- 
class restaurant in Tokyo, attended by thirteen 
singing and two dancing girls (I was one of the 
two). In this night they were to make merry by 
giving a genteel sport called " Floating Fans,*' 
one of the most fashionable plays in this period. 
The banquet was already opened in the boat, 
and when the clear, full moon rose near the centre 
of the sky, small fans gilded with silver leaves 
were given to each of the girls. At a command of 
one of the guests, all the girls at once threw up the 
open fans against the moon ; the silvery faces of 
fans, reflecting the moonlight, went up and down, 
fluttering in the air, and, falling upon the silvery 
ripples of the stream, they were seen drifting away, 
some floating and some sinking. What a beau- 
tiful scene it was! 

1 How do you think, Sakae? " inquired Prince 

T , smiling on me; "I think you have first 

seen ' Floating Fans.' ' 

Actually it was the first time for me to see the 
merry sport, and I cannot forget the beauty and 
pleasure on the night even at present. 

After about one year and a half of my life as a 
82 



A STORY OF AN OLD WOMAN 

dancing girl in the nightless quarter (Yoshiwara), 
unexpectedly I received lucky news from my 
mother. I was told that my father had fortunately 
succeeded in his speculations and got five thousand 
yen, and that I would be taken home by paying 
my debt to my hostess. 

While I was very happy to live together with 
my parents as their dear daughter again, I was sent 
to a girls' school and studied three R J s and 
English. But after a year misfortune caught me 
again my parents died of the epidemic in succes- 
sion. To make matters worse, my father, who had 
failed in his late speculation, left no property to 
me. Now I, the young orphan, was compelled to 
find the means to lead the life myself. At first I 
made money by selling furniture, one after another, 
and could hardly continue to go to school. But 
as it would take three years more to finish the 
whole course of the school, I had no prospect of 
keeping my study for so long time. 

In the spring of my seventeenth I went to my 
schoolmaster, and, after frankly telling my present 
situations, consulted him what course I should 
take for my future. 

" In front of the Imperial University in Hongo 
there is a stationer well acquainted with me," told 
he very kindly, after a short pondering. " He 
wants a shop-girl, and if you will go to his shop 
I shall tell him to give you a spare time for two 
or three hours every evening. Then you can come 
to my house and study your lessons, and I shall 
make a special treatment for you to give you a 
diploma of my school, just equal to those to be 
conferred on regular graduates." 

I was very glad for the kindness of my school- 
master, and at once went to the stationer's shop (o 
be employed as a shop-girl or rather as a decoy- 
duck for young customers. The greater part of 
the customers to the shop consisted of students of 

83 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

the Imperial University in the main and other 
colleges and schools. At first I felt bashful to be 
spoken to by these young men, but being accus- 
tomed to business day by day, I became so bold 
that I could even joke at them. 

It may sound foolish to speak of my own coun- 
tenance, but as I had been often spoken of to be 
beautiful in the time of my life as a dancing girl, 
I had a self-reliance that I possessed the power to 
charm the other sex. If I cast a simper for young 
students they were instantly caught, and came 
frequently to buy various articles, perhaps un- 
necessary for them. I often received love-letters 
from them. If I had not been bound by the chain 
of education I should have been ruined early in 
this epoch of the shop-girl. 

After about one year's service in the stationer's 
shop my salary was unexpectedly increased by the 
master. I was heartily moved with gratitude for 
his kindness, but soon found that he had acted it 
from his unworthy motive. After a few days I 
determined to leave the shop, and at the same time 
a strong feeling of hostility and contempt against 
men was roused in my mind. 

My next profession was an editress of a maga- 
zine, and I had to call on ladies and gentlemen to 
collect interesting materials for the periodical. At 
first I presumed that all scholars, statesmen, educa- 
tionists, religionists, and poets were great, respec- 
table, reliable, honourable, and agreeable persons, 
but meeting frequently with them by and by, I 
was surprised to discover some of doubtful person- 
alities among them. The noble images which I 
had been dreaming in my mind disappeared in an 
instant, and the value of learning, the power of 
religion, and the authority of education having 
been entirely destroyed, there were left no ideas 
but the hatred for such hypocrites. As I had 
already read their mind and was not tempted by 

84 



A STORY OF AN OLD WOMAN 

their honeyed words, on the contrary they began 
to abuse me to be a cunning and diplomatic 
girl ; but I did not care whatever names they 
called me. 

Ants gather upon a lump of sugar and men run 
after a young beauty. Whenever I was courted by 
a man, no matter whether he was young or old, 
I always made eyes at him and affected to have 
inclinations for him, but at the moment when he 
pressed upon me to take my hand, a snub was my 
last sentence to the fool. 

Though I despised men of base intention, I was 
a young girl of passions, and must confess that I 
did not detest the male sex absolutely; nay, not 
only I did not hate it, but on the contrary I had 
good experiences on the love-affair with some men. 
Moreover, I was utterly ignorant of their deception 
upon me, while I became absorbed in the dream 
sweeter than honey. 

I gave up the editorship when I was eighteen 
years old. About the time I fell in love with a 
student of the university. He was a handsome 
young gentleman, twenty-two years old, and he 
was a son of a rich merchant in a local town. He 
was very kind to me, sympathising with me in my 
poor situations. 

' You may spend a part of my monthly ex- 
penses," said he to me, " until you will finish 
your school." 

A year passed in a happy dream, and I could 
advance to the third year class. Punishment for 
my misconduct came soon in the autumn of the 
next year. I found myself in the fifth month of 
pregnancy, but as my school and class-mates were 
not aware of my condition luckily, I presented a 
report of absence to the school, and took refuge in 
a house at the suburb, living here together with 
my dear lover. 
About one month after our removal to the soli- 

85 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

tary cottage his affection towards me began to 
lessen day by day. My kind protector changed 
into a merciless tyrant ; I was knocked and kicked 
by him at trifles every day. I wept night and 
day, but could not part from him. In the mean- 
time a baby was born, but died soon, perhaps 
owing to its father's cruel treatment upon me. 
On the third day after the funeral of the dead 
baby took place he at last gave me up and con- 
cealed himself. I cannot describe now how I sank 
with tears of sorrow and repentance on this occa- 
sion. Having fallen into the valley of disappoint- 
ment, next I went farther to the bottom of 
desperation. 

Though I was penitent for my loose conduct and 
made up my mind never to believe men, yet I was 
much troubled how to find my way of livelihood 
in future. As soon as I recovered my health I ran 
to a register-office and could find a position of 
governess in a merchant's home. One month 
passed peacefully for me in the house of the old 
merchant, who was very kind to me, and his old 
wife too treated me so mercifully that people took 
me to be her true daughter, who had been sent 
out to nurse and taken home lately. 

It was my duty to attend a boy and two girls, 
from eight to fourteen years old, after they came 
home from school, and while I was carefully work- 
ing my part every day there happened an event 
for my misfortune again. They had a brother and 
a sister both older than themselves; the brother, 
about twenty years old, was the eldest son of the 
merchant, and the sister, in her eighteenth, was 
his eldest daughter, who was a warm-hearted 
damsel, and whom I became very intimate with, 
as if she was my true sister. It was my habit in 
these days to talk with her in her room after I 
finished my business of the day, and her elder 
brother often came in the room and was pleased 

86 



A STORY OF AN OLD WOMAN 

to gossip with us no remarkable behaviour in 
him at all in these occasions. 

One evening after I finished the reviews for the 
younger son and daughters I withdrew into the 
room allotted for my private use, and sat down by 
the side of my desk on which I used to read news- 
papers or novels before I went to bed. When I 
took down a novel and opened it I unexpectedly 
found a letter between the leaves a letter addressed 
to me from the eldest son of the merchant ! I felt 
my heart beating high ; I opened and read it, 
but tore it to pieces on the spot. I gave up 
the novel, and soon went to bed, but could not 
sleep. 

In the next night I found another letter in a 
drawer of the desk again, and thus his letters came 
to me night after night. Now I was very anxious 
that the secret might be discovered by somebody 
if I would leave the matter as it was. One night 
I received a new letter again as I anticipated, and 
after I read it through I determined to meet him 
and to admonish him of his errors. 

As appointed in his letter, I stole out of my 
room at the dead of night and hardly arrived at 
his room, my body trembling with fear. He was 
not yet in bed, and received me with joy. I re- 
monstrated with tears against his misdemeanour, 
but he never listened to me. To tell the truth I 
did not expect his iove for me to have been so 
ardent and hearty as I was first convinced of this 
night. "Frailty, thy name is woman!" What 
was the result of our meeting in this night? 

About two months after the secret meeting in 
midnight I was dismissed from my service, and 
at the same time expelled out of the merchant's 
house. I could have no words to complain about 
the sudden and cruel treatment of the employer. 
As it was the retribution for my misconduct, I left 
the house in silence, though the younger son and 

8? 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

daughters were very sorry to part from me. Now 
again I must find the means to sustain my life. 

Throwing myself into the depth of extreme 
desperation, I resolved to be a geisha girl, which I 
had experience of in my youth as a dancing girl 
in Yoshiwara. I ran to a girl-house of the first 
rank at Yanagibashi (Willow Bridge), and made 
my first appearance as a singing girl by the name 
of Koryu (Small Willow). As I had a little know- 
ledge of light accomplishments from my child- 
hood, I was not defeated by other girls on this 
part of my business, and moreover my poor learn- 
ing, which I had received in my schooldays, 
having been much talked about, I was soon 
elevated to be one of the first-rate girls in great 
request in the demi-monde quarter of Willow 
Bridge. 

In those days a part of the customers to the 
.Yanagibashi girls consisted of students. As I had 
many cases naturally to wait upon these young 
guests, it was not rare that I was fallen into great 
troubles for their payments to restaurants. Yet I 
liked the disposition of students, and often emptied 
my purse for them, sometimes even by borrowing 
money from my friends, of course they being 
neither lovers nor patrons for me. 

My curiosity for the students led me to be sur- 
named ''Student Girl" or " Chivalric Geisha" 
by them. But among those who gave so much 
trouble to me, there were only a few who gradu- 
ated from their colleges and visited me to express 
their gratitude for my assistance during their 
student days. What a fool I was to have been a 
benevolent contributor for such ungrateful fellows, 
though some of them have afterwards advanced to 
great positions in the world ! 

Having sifted out of these many youths, how- 
ever, I selected a lover, whom I supported through- 
out his school life for four * years. I loved him 

88 




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A STORY OF AN OLD WOMAN 

heartily, and was so infatuated with him that at 
last I gave birth to a girl. 

However beautiful and accomplished a geisha 
girl may be, she can be no more popular among 
customers if she is known by them to be in the 
family way. So was I in the same condition now, 
and, having been abandoned by my heartless lover 
in addition, now I could not live in Tokyo. 
Leaving the capital, I ran far west to Shimonoseki, 
and appeared there again as a geisha girl from 
Shumpanro, the greatest restaurant hotel, well 
known as the meeting-place of the peace committee 
between Japan and China in A.D. 1895. 

After staying here about two years, I came back 
to Tokyo again. Then I was twenty-nine years 
old, and, after consulting with some of my old 
friends on my new life in the capital, I opened a 
tea-house near Asakusa Park. I employed three 
or four young girls, and worked mbst seriously in 
my new occupation. The endeavour of three years 
having made eight hundred yen for me, I gave 
up the business, and, removing to the Willow 
Bridge quarter again, established an independent 
geisha-house named Sakaeya (prosperity). I am 
still pursuing the business, employing some young, 
beautiful girls, though I am very old now. 

Next I shall tell you what I have seen or felt 
during my long life as a geisha girl. 



CHAPTER VI 

TALL TALKS OF AN OLD GEISHA GIRL 
A. Men Liked by Geisha Girls 

A GIRL well experienced in our profession, as I 
am, takes the customers to be machines for usT 
Being an eccentric woman, as you know, how- 
ever, I always take care to gratify my guests, 
even if they are the first visitors never met before. 
Some of them assume their appearance of being 
very kind to us, and flatter us with these honeyed 
words: " It may be a great hardship to pursue 
such a business as you are in, attending men of 
different characters night and day. Heartily I 
sympathise with you, etc., etc." Their real 
object is not to console us, but to entrap us into 
love by their cunning policy. I think such a kind 
of men cannot be called the gentlemen experienced 
in the geisha spree. 

Fools are they that hire geisha girls with the 
intention of catching them at every chance ; these 
ambitious guests are always despised by us as the 
disagreeable fellows. Of course I have experiences 
in love, and if you ask me what kind of a guest I 
like, I answer that he must be a man of innocent 
appearance, open-hearted, and in a stiff attitude 
rather difficult to humour. On the contrary, if we 
find a man in the base intention our characteristic 
spirit of insubordination is excited, and we wish to 
spit on his face. 

90 



TALL TALKS OF A GEISHA GIRL 

In general, geisha girls may love the money of 
guests, but it is rare to fall in love with them for 
their character or fettered by their kindness. I 
often hear young girls complaining: " It is strange 
for us that guests whom we are fond of and en- 
deavour to treat kindly cease to come again after 
their first or second visits only, and that, on the 
contrary, those whom we dislike even to see their 
faces pay their troublesome calls in succession 
almost every other day." 

B. Men Disliked by Geisha Girls 

Among one hundred guests it is hard to find out 
one whom we wish to fall in love with. All girls 
detest disagreeable men : a man finely dressed up 
in glittering silk clothes, a man with a cigar cost 
one yen per piece in his mouth, and with his hair 
immoderately brightened with cosmetic, or a man 
who visits a restaurant out of his foolish ostenta- 
tion by an automobile or rikisha drawn by double 
rikisha-men if we are compelled to attend in 
presence of any of such guests, we feel to shiver as 
if a black caterpillar was thrown at our nape ! 

A young dandy who could hardly graduate from 
a college and has such a poor knowledge of a 
foreign language that his heart throbs if he is 
addressed by a foreigner on the road, who lavishly 
spends money which was not earned by his own 
ability but inherited from his father such a fellow 
in contradiction between his appearance and char- 
acter is always despised by the girls of our circle, 
even if he gives them a sum of one thousand yen. 

In general, the physique of the Japanese does 
not become the European dresses ; if we see an 
odd-shaped man in the European dress, speaking 
' When I was in Paris . . ."we would run away 
though we are brazen-faced quite enough to meet 
any monster ! 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

Compare a fat gentleman neatly dressed in a 
suit of easy Japanese silk dresses with a slender 
wretch in a poor frock-coat, pocketing its tmcom- 
fortableness ! No need to speak which is better in 
their appearances. Yet a greater part of guests 
in these days put on the European dress, and we 
cannot understand the reason. 



C. Kinds of the Geisha Spree 

As I already told you, my daughter is the hostess 
of a restaurant, and the majority of her customers 
are gentlemen of the higher class. When a party 
of noted men is to visit the restaurant, they first 
send telephone on the morning, ordering to engage 
such and such girls, and come in the evening ; after 
spending two or three hours in merriment, they go 
home. On this occasion ten or fifteen girls of the 
first class are summoned, and the guests are pleased 
to hear songs or see dancings of these girls accord- 
ing to their tastes respectively. 

It is very rare that a guest of the higher class 
comes alone to a restaurant, but generally he invites 
his friends or customers, with a certain aim in his 
mind to renew the old friendship or negotiate on 
the business. 

Those of the middle class come in a party of 
three or four, and call four or five girls, the expense 
being generally paid in shares. 

A customer belonging to the lower class comes 
alone and hires a single girl ; he drinks by only one 
or two kinds of dishes, and goes back after three 
or four hours. Simple is the way of merry-making 
with the singing girl taken by such a kind of 
guests. 

A man in mutual love with a girl pays the ex- 
penses for wine and dishes, while the girl herself 
pays her own fee. He is called a " lover-guest " 

92 



TALL TALKS OF A GEISHA GIRL 

for the girl, and generally belongs in the class of 
much lower quality. 

In a word, we hope that guests who hire geisha 
girls would act for them always in a genteel 
manner; then the girls would receive them with 
their hearty welcome and serve them with their 
best treatment. On the contrary, if they look down 
upon them as the females of the mean profession, 
they would be coldly treated and disappointed, the 
girls' spirits of counteraction being stimulated. 
Remember that the amount of money spent by 
their guests has no concern for their hospitality. 

The season most prosperous for geisha girls is 
the spring when cherry trees are in full bloom, and 
their excursions to spas or distant sights, taken by 
their customers, are generally done in spring and 
summer. It is, however, very expensive to take 
girls to distant places, and consequently most of 
the guests who like to try the excursions with girls 
are those not experienced in the geisha spree or 
thrown themselves into desperation by some 
causes. Such a kind of guests do not continue 
long to come, and most of them cease to appear in 
one or two months. 



D. Kinds of Guests Classified by Geisha Girls 

Men who frequent the gay quarters are classified 
by the girls into the following three kinds : 

I. Men precautioned by the girls. 

Those who belong in this class are : 

i. Spendthrifts. 

Shopmen, clerks, or other employes often fall 
into the fault of extravagance, and the consequence 
of their debaucheries is very miserable. The 
master of a house or the chief of a firm never 
spends useless money. 

93 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRI, 

2. Guests who run after the fashion too much. 
Men who are always stylish beyond criticism in 

their dresses and things carried are worthless 
fellows. True gentlemen or rich people are not 
nervous about their person. 

3. Guests who give too much tips to the girls at 
the beginning of their attendance. 

4. Nameless men who visit restaurants by motor- 
cars, carriages, or rikishas drawn by two or three 
men. 

5. Guests who are restless in their speaking and 
actions. Most of them have something remorseful 
in their mind. 

6. Guests too affable to the girls. 

7. Guests striking the attitude of actors. 

8. Speculators or stock-jobbers. 

They are most welcomed in the gay circles, 
but at the same time most warned among the 
girls. 

9. Guests who leave their seats too often for 
telephoning during the feast. 

10. Guests who stay too long in the restaurant. 

II. Men loathed by the girls. 

1. Guests talking big in presence of the girls. 

2. Swells carrying a handkerchief strongly per- 
fumed and with the hair glittering with cosmetic. 

3. Too jestful and too chattering guests. 

4. Guests of extreme taciturnity and niggards. 

5. Guests with a gold plugged tooth, a gold 
ring, a gold chain, and everything brilliant with 
gold. 

6. Guests boasting of the things carried by 
themselves. 

7. Guests vain of their accomplishments. 

8. Disorderly men. 

9. Guests of vulgar character. 

10. Guests haughty by money. 

94 



TALL TALKS OF A GEISHA GIRL 

III. Men welcomed by the girls. 

1. Guests of manly manners. 

2. Men in quiet. 

3. Guests kind but not effeminate ; compassionate 
but not tedious. 

4. Guests not much experienced in the geisha 

spree. 

5. Guests sympathising with the girls. 

6. Guests liberal but not loose. 

7. Guests in a good humour at any time. 

8. Men indifferent to the personal appearance. 

9. Men not awful. 

10. Men who spend money worthily. 

E. Are Men of What Age Most Liked by Geisha 
Girls? 

The girls some twenty-four or five years old, 
well experienced in their business, generally prefer 
men over thirty years old. As women truckle to 
a stronger power, they cannot heartily rely on men 
younger than themselves. Superficial observers 
may say that young men from twenty to thirty 
being not so much experienced with the female 
and retaining something pure and innocent, they 
are liked by the girls of our circle, but the pre- 
sumption is utterly wrong. Young and childish 
dancing girls dressed in red clothes may fall in 
love with those lads, bashful on meeting a charm- 
ing girl, but mature girls believe that it is 
unworthy for them to love such green fellows. 

Men below thirty are poor of experiences in con- 
nection with women after all, and if they are wel- 
comed by the girls or entertained with their sheep's 
eyes, they instantly love them no matter whatever 
girls they may be. The girls of our society cannot 

95 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

be grateful for the kindness of such a kind 
of men, however hearty and earnest their love 
may be. 

Men over thirty are already buffeted by the 
world's tempest and have some experiences with 
various kinds of the girls. So if they meet with 
any kind of the girls they can coolly criticise them, 
comparing to the other girls; hence they do not 
readily love any girls. If any of these men have 
fallen in love with a girl, we may presume that he 
recognised a certain speciality of the girl, excellent 
above the other girls. 

It is the extreme pleasure and pride of singing 
girls to be loved by the men who do not love the 
girls easily. Men of the world understand the 
nature of the females very well, and as they treat 
them in the way as appropriate as there is nothing 
left for them to be desired, they are loved by them 
retributively. Moreover, how glad is a girl when 
she thinks that she has been selected out by her 
new lover among so many girls, and loved by him 
for her forte which she was secretly proud of 
herself ! 

Then are all men over thirty, whatever appear- 
ances they have, welcomed by geisha girls? Oh, 
no ! Of course there is a certain type of features 
and person liked by them. The professional girls 
do not esteem a smooth and beautiful face like 
dolls, but they like men with something awe- 
inspiring about the face; and they prefer the fat 
figure better than the slender one. In a word, a 
man of dignity is generally liked by them. 

Men with big and thick eyebrows pressed upon 
the eyes or with a loose mouth might not be popu- 
lar with the girls; and men of long hair or a pale 
face or dark-brown skin are not good too. The 
face of light grey colour attracts the girls, for it 
was the ideal tint of the male features in the gor- 
geous age of Yedo, and on the contrary the light 

96 



TALL TALKS OF A GEISHA GIRL 

pink colour is sometimes valued by them, being 
taken to represent the active character of men. 

If the girls are treated by their lovers as the good 
companions, they are much satisfied; they feel 
great pleasure if men keep company with them 
very frank and simple. If a girl understands that 
her man has not taken her for his temporary amuse- 
ment, but that he is getting something gratifying 
himself from her, and making up a part of his 
ideas by her, she receives him with her sincerity 
at any time. Men should be neither too kind nor 
too cool for the girls, but the secret of success for 
them is to flash the sparks of love and kindness 
occasionally upon their mind. 

Men who are frowzy or particular cannot be 
willingly received by the girls, and those with 
dishevelled hair or soiled collars have no fear to be 
loved by them after all ; cleanliness of clothes and 
everything is one of the essentials for entrapping 
the expert geisha. The girls do not like men who 
always tell auspicious matters or only of the bright 
side of the world, but rather welcome those who 
are well acquainted with the unfortunate or dark 
side. Those who talk of difficult matters which 
cannot be easily understood by the girls are not 
liked by them too. Vague or abstract subjects or 
scholastic narrations should be avoided in presence 
of the girls: if you speak of the relation between 
music and theatres or tendency of the present 
literature they would be disgusted at once. It 
would be wiser to talk of actors or criticise novels 
popular among them. If the girls hear a man 
who speaks of a woman or, more than that, tries 
to admire her, they do not rejoice at it. Avoid to 
tell of other females in presence of the girls, or, if 
inevitable, never praise them or rather abuse them. 

Men over forty-four or five years old lack the 
colour and fragrance of the life and become 
egoistic generally. Being in company with these 

7. G 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

old men, the girls cannot get even a bit of pleasure 
from them. Although the women in geisha pro- 
fession exist in order to give pleasure to men, yet 
it is unbearable for them to have no consolation or 
recompense for their labours and troubles. In con- 
sequence, men over forty-five are not liked by 
them ; men from thirty to forty-five may be said 
to be in their flower of life or in the golden age in 
connection with the kingdom of the geisha girls 



F. The Waiting-House (or the Assignation- 
House) 

By the way, I will betray the true feature of the 
so-called waiting-house (machiai) or assignation- 
house, which is the most popular haunt of the 
geisha girls' customers. 

Business of the waiting-house is very difficult to 
be successfully carried on by ordinary people unless 
they are well experienced in the gay circle. Origin- 
ally being an unsteady profession, of course, they 
do not expect to earn a big sum of money and lead 
an upright life from the first. On one side a dear 
tax is not only exacted, but also they must take 
into account the loss inflicted by bad customers 
who do not pay the bills, and on the other, they 
should exactly pay to restaurants and wine-dealers, 
from which wine and dishes are supplied for 
the guests, no accommodation of cookery being 
provided in the house. If everything goes off 
smoothly, however, they can unexpectedly live in 
ease, and may possibly save up a certain sum of 
money. At present there are more than three 
hundred waiting-houses in and around the gay 
quarter of Shimbashi, and those to be reckoned 
as the rich among them are very few. 

The hostesses of the assignation-houses are gen- 
erally limited to ex-geisha or women who were 

98 



TALL TALKS OF A GEISHA GIRL 

once waitresses in other houses, much experienced 
in the business. There are many girls who were 
redeemed by their patrons from their geisha life, 
and have opened, by the patrons' help, the business 
of the waiting-house. 

The regular income of the machiai consists of 
the room rent, which costs from two to five yen one 
evening, the shops being closed at twelve, but the 
tips to the houses as well as to the waitresses, given 
by their good customers, amount to a big sum 
every month ; hence the waitresses and maidser- 
vants of these houses receive no wages from their 
hostesses, and yet can sustain themselves by the 
customers' tips only, some of them saving a good 
round sum, as much as they can be independent 
hostesses in future. 

Business of the waitresses is very important in 
the waiting-house. The fame of a machiai depends 
upon the way of their treatment for guests, and 
men who visit the house in night being generally 
drunken, the reception of them is left to those 
experienced maids. So in the waiting-house 
waitresses are much more necessary than geisha 
girls for treatment of customers. 



G. Learning of Geisha Girls 

I believe that there is no business for the females 
which requires so great efforts as that of the geisha 
girls. They must learn all kinds of accomplish- 
ments which are necessary to meet the tastes and 
demands of guests of every rank; needless to say 
of the floral arrangement and tea ceremony they 
must sometimes perform even the sword-dance. 
As they have to attend upon foreigners recently, 
their knowledge for English must be much more 
than _ Thank you " and " Good-bye." 

Being sometimes engaged to appear in presence 
99 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

of nobles, it is necessary for them to study the 
etiquette in the higher rank. In these days the 
most popular lessons among the first-class girls 
are writing and poem-making. Some girls could 
compose very good poems, and, after corrected by 
their teacher, they send them to their customers, 
who are struck with admiration at the chefs 
d'oeuvre. 

Most of the younger singing girls are fond of 
novels or magazines, reading them in daytime 
when they are generally unengaged, and it is funny 
and pitiful at the same time to see some of them 
who are shedding tears in sympathy with heroes 
or heroines in some tragical stories, while the 
others, who are boasting themselves of their poor 
literary knowledge, are pleased to criticise the 
books from their girlish point of view. 



100 



\ 




CHAPTER VII 

GEISHA GIRLS IN GENERAL 

IN Tokyo, the capital of Japan, we find numerous 
circles of beautiful geisha girls, their natural beauty 
being heightened by their artificial beauty. Their 
faces are gaily painted, and though they have a 
light pride for themselves, yet their beauty is not 
prominent. The time for their prosperity is very 
short, just like the flowers of morning glory their 
business is limited to their youth only, occupying 
a little part of their whole life. They may be 
called a kind of artistic product appearing in the 
cities of the *' Country of the Rising Sun," and 
it is natural that the sight-seers from Europe wish 
first to see these geisha girls. 

They dance and sing well, and are skilled in 
talking too. In Japan of the present day it is not 
easy to find out in any other classes of women the 
beauties so well accomplished in these arts as they 
are. In old times there were many distinguished 
girls, and the so-called Yedo-geisha in the feudal 
age of the Tokugawa Shogunate were far more 
respected by citizens than the Tokyo geisha of the 
present day. 

The singing girls must be always beautiful as 
long as they carry on their business, and at the 
same time must not be occupied by any special 
guests, or in other words they must be cosmo- 
politan. We have the following proverb for the 

101 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

girls: " Don't pick up the flowers into your hand, 
but leave them in the field as they grow." All the 
girls must be the flowers which can be looked at 
and admired by all people. 

We often read in newspapers or magazines that 
there are some geisha girls who are fond of litera- 
ture or were educated in a female high school, and 
that they are esteemed by guests among other girls 
who are generally in a lower degree of education. 
But men do not hire the geisha girls for the pur- 
pose of being educated by them or listening to their 
lectures on literature. No, geisha girls have their 
own functions for making up deficiencies among 
the male society. They should have good accom- 
plishments, affection, and beauty, and they must 
be ready to impart the pleasure to anybody who 
meets them. 

We are told that a girl gave a clever treatment to 
her three guests at once, singing a song for the 
first guest, serving the second with wine from the 
bottle held in her right hand, and leaning her left 
on the knee of the third. 

Ladies of respectable families despise geisha 
girls as the inconstant women of the ignoble pro- 
fession, and yet if they see a beautiful daughter of 
a friend of theirs, they often use such a phrase 
to admire her, as " Wliat a pretty damsel she is, 
just like a geisha girl! " How funny is the con- 
tradiction between their ideal and real ! We 
recommend them that if they find any fine points 
in the custom of geisha girls they would better 
to adopt it for themselves. 

It is an undeniable fact that the Japanese women 
are not well trained in social manners and toilet. 
When we call on a friend we are often received at 
his door by his maidservant, poorly dressed, her 
manners of receiving, of course, being disagree- 
able at the same time. It is a bad habit to ignore 
dressing and toilet by reason of being a maid- 

102 



GEISHA GIRLS IN GENERAL 

servant. We hope to encourage the sociality in 
the Japanese family, and to be more careful for 
toilet and dressing of maidservants. 

Toilet is not to be monopolised by geisha girls 
only, but ladies and daughters in the higher class 
should always have a new taste for it much more 
than they have. What a nonsense it is if a gentle- 
man is moved by beauty on meeting a geisha 
girl! he must be provided in his family with a 
taste of beauty far superior to that offered by the 
singing girl. 

Upstarts of the present day are proud of collect- 
ing curios and old pictures and writings, or of 
some light accomplishments privately learnt by 
some professionals, but their true hobby is a 
geisha spree. Then are they always satisfied by 
those girls? No, many of them are complaining 
of their cold treatment, in spite of a big sum of 
money which they spend on every occasion. The 
reason of the inhospitality is that those in the 
class of parvenu are generally boasting of their 
riches and behave in arrogant manners not only 
towards the girls, but also against all people, and 
that their insolence provokes the girls' hostile feel- 
ing. If they do not treat the girls in a contemp- 
tuous attitude, they would be always saluted 
cheerfully and gratified with their best entertain- 
ment. 

The native girls in Tokyo are dignified and 
social. We often find those who are naturally 
beautiful in their unpainted face and whose burn- 
ing passion is overflowing out of their strict char- 
acter. The beauties in Kyoto attract men by their 
thick charms and graceful actions ; and their trans- 
parent, snow-white skin and their timidity in 
talking should be said the characteristics of the 
Kyoto girls. 

Some people say that Osaka is a city abundant 
in beauties, far more than Kyoto. It is a fact that 

103 



THE STORY OP THE GEISHA GIRL 

we find many beautiful singing and dancing girls 
among so numerous gay quarters in the city. In 
a word, if the European belle is the rose, the 
Japanese is the chrysanthemum, and the Chinese 
the peony. 

Gentlemen who were noted for the good conduct 
during their schooldays are often found to be very 
generous for the geisha spree. Both the mind and 
body having been worn out with the hard studies 
through their school life, we may admit that it is 
a way of their comforts to drink and eat together 
with beautiful girls as their companions, and more- 
over it is not rare that we see actual examples of 
young men who had once been unsociable but 
afterwards became experts in savoir-faire by 
frequent associatings with the geisha girls. 

A man may be accused or sometimes sent to 
Coventry by his friends against his keeping com- 
pany with the geisha girls, but if he looks back 
upon his course of life, how would he think of his_ 
knowledge on the secrets of getting on in the world> 
whether he got it much more by his wife educated 
in the school, or by the girls despised by the 
friends ? 

While the daughters grown up in the families 
of a rich or higher class are rarely found among 
the candidates of the geisha girls, those born in a 
back-court tenement house flow into the door of 
a geisha-house if they are of a somewhat hopeful 
countenance and have a poor knowledge of light 
accomplishments. The simple reason of the 
difference is that the former can buy their fineries 
. at will, but that the latter, being incapable to 
satisfy their vanity, are always envious of the 
others. 

Girls doomed in a gloomy cottage are hopeless 
for life to wear fine dresses unless they go to a 
business like geisha girls. Although there may be 
several works for them, such as a factory hand, a 

104 



GEISHA GIRLS IN GENERAL 

telephone operator, or a needlewoman, yet they can 
earn only a little sum of money by any of these 
tasks. Besides, there may be a greater business 
for the female as an authoress or a schoolmistress 
if she makes a great effort and studies hard, but 
it cannot be easily attainable for ordinary girls; 
or a daughter of a poor family may apply for 
apprenticeship of a midwife or a nurse, but a long 
study under great difficulties is necessary for her 
before she could sustain herself by the profession. 

Living in a poor home, where there is an un- 
thrifty mother or a drunken father and they cannot 
subsist even a day unless helped by the work of 
their daughter, how could she expect to put on a 
fine clothing desired eagerly by all young girls? 

What a great difference of life between the 
daughters living in a splendid mansion and those 
moaning under the broken roof of a humble 
cottage! There is no shorter cut than to be a 
geisha girl for a poor family's daughter who hopes 
for fine dresses and to associate with gentlemen. 
When she is employed under the hostess of a 
geisha-house, she could at last attain her aim 
though she would be severely trained by her em- 
ployer and elder girls. Well, she may be satisfied 
to wear nice dresses in presence of her customers, 
but if we look at the other side of her life, what a 
pity she is! 

When she is in her employer's house she never 
puts on any good clothes nor eats any dainties 
which she can sometimes taste in restaurants. She 
does not forget her poor life which she led to- 
gether with her parents, and can bear any in- 
conveniences long experienced in the back-court 
tenement house. Moreover, she has many troubles 
and pains afflicted by her fellow-girls or waitresses 
of restaurants and waiting-houses. 



105 



CHAPTER VIII 

GLIMPSES OF THE GEISHA CIRCLE AT PRESENT 

A. A Kitten and a Dancing Girl 

I AM a little dancing girl called Hanamaru (Flower 
Ball) living in a geisha-house. In this house there 
live four singing girls and a kitten named Mike 
(three-coloured fur) which is the pet of all girls. 

Miss Mike is my good companion always when I 
am at home. Miss Koyuki (Little Snow), one of the 
elder girls, obtained her from somebody while I was 
out under engagement the other day. The cat has 
a round body and a short tail I like the short tail 
though it is said among our circle that a cat with a 
long tail promises a good luck big eyes and long 
ears, a small mouth and a large backside, not so 
large as to appear ugly. Her round body, just 
like a hand ball, is very fat and deep furry; her 
white fur is dotted with small black dapples on her 
head and left shoulder, and mixed with brown spots 
at her right two paws. Mewing faintly, she goes 
upon the knee of anybody. What a lovely little 
creature she is ! 

When I asked my hostess to be a kind nurse- 
maid for the kitten she told me that I should be 
very careful to treat the pet, and Miss Kotaka 
(Little-High), another elder girl, added that if I 
treat her very kind I would be loved by guests. I 
thought, however, that I don't care whether I would 
be liked by them or not, but that I should fondle 

106 



THE GEISHA CIRCLE AT PRESENT 

her with all my heart, as I am so fond of the little 
thing. 

Miss Little-High made for the pet a little red 
necktie, attached with a small bell at its end. 
When it was tied round her neck she was very 
glad, and ran about the room, the little bell tink- 
ling at her every motion. That night I went to 
bed carrying her in my bosom, and gave my arm 
for her pillow, as I feared that she might feel head- 
ache if her head was lain flat. She lay along at 
ease, leaving herself as I did, and soon began to 
snore in a very weak noise. It seemed that she felt 
no fear even in the very first night she was brought 
to the unacquainted house, and I thought she fell 
asleep so soon, as she was tired out. I could not, 
however, understand the reason of her fatigue, 
because she had worked nothing hard in daytime. 
As for me, there is no leisure time every day; in 
the morning I must dust and sweep the rooms, and 
then go to the teachers of dancing and singing, and 
in the afternoon go on messages for the hostess 
and elder girls, while busily engaged in reviews of 
the lessons learnt in the morning ; in the evening I 
must take my business, attending the restaurants 
and waiting upon the customers. In spite of such 
a pressure of business every day I don't get tired 
so much, and why was my pet so worn out? Does 
she like to sleep as she is a baby yet ? 

Late that night Miss Little-Snow came home 
from a restaurant, and I fell in sleep soon, hearing 
in a trance her idle talks on amours. 

Next morning I was awaked by chirping of 
sparrows in the garden, and next moment my ears 
were assailed, as usual in every morning, by the 
noisy sound of tramcars and the whistling of auto- 
mobiles running in the main street next to the lane 
where our geisha-houses stand in two rows facing 
each other. Still lying in the bed and looking 
found I could not find Miss Mike, my pet, and, 

107 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

feeling anxious where she went, I sprang out of 
bed and hastened downstairs to search her, but 
soon I was relieved by discovering her there, sitting 
and eating on the knee of the hostess. After wash- 
ing the face, I dusted the rooms and carried a 
tobacco-tray to the upstairs room where the elder 
girls were in bed awaiting the fire for smoking. 

While I was very busy for my morning tasks, 
my kitten was romping about the rooms, playing 
with the skirt of the hostess or rushing out towards 
the entrance door, almost to fall down upon the 
step-stone in the porch. 

After half an hour all the singing girls in the 
upstairs came down, and I sat at table together 
with them. What a glutton Miss Mike is! Not- 
withstanding she had already finished her break- 
fast by the hostess, still she was glad to devour 
a big piece of fish-flesh given by one of the 
girls. 

After the breakfast was over one of the girls tried 
to touch Mike's body and cried, " What a big 
stomach this little kit has! " 

" She shall be surfeited if you give her too 
much," warned the hostess in her own room. 

Being anxious of her health I tried timidly to 
touch her stomach, and was surprised to find that 
it was hard like stone. Asking one of the girls 
whether I might give her the peptic which I used 
to take, I was laughed at by all of them. 

I went together with one of the girls to the 
morning visit to the shrine of Inari (the God of 
Rice) in a back street not far from our house, and, 
parting from her on the way home, I went to the 
teacher of Kiyomoto songs to learn a new lesson. 
In the afternoon I was very busy in reviews of 
samisen and songs and in going on messages for 
the elder girls. At the tea-time the hostess gave 
me two cups of mitsumame (a favourite sweet for 
young dancing and singing girls, see " The Night- 

108 



THE GEISHA CIRCLE AT PRESENT 

side of Japan " for its particulars) as the prize for 
my good working of this day. 

I wished to give my pet a share of the sweet, 
but finding that she was sleeping on the balcony 
of the upper story, I thought that she might be 
dreaming of me and that it was cruel to wake her ; 
then I determined to lay it by until she would 
awake herself. 

Now I lay down too, facing Miss Mike on the 
balcony, and while gazing at her in sleep, I won- 
dered to find the long whiskers around her little 
mouth. 

*' You are a baby cat and grow whiskers! How 
funny you are! You should get rid of such ugly, 
needless things. My hostess often tells me that a 
little dancing girl like me should always look like 
the dancing girl, and so a baby cat like you must 
appear the baby cat too." 

Saying so, I cut off all her whiskers with my 
little scissors. Next, finding the long claws at her 
paws, I feared she might be hurt, and tried to cut 
them off, applying the scissors again. But as they 
were very hard I pressed the cutting tool with 
all my strength ; it slipped and hit one of her 



" Gya-un ! " cried she; she sprang up and ran 
into the room. I, astounded too, dropped the 
scissors from my hand. 

4 * What a pity!" apologised I to her. "You 
feel pain? I beg pardon." 

She was looking at me with her frightened face, 
hiding herself between a toilet-stand and a chest 
of drawers. 

" Got hurt, my darling? I beg your pardon. I 
have not done it out of malice. Beg par'n, beef 
par'n! 

Yet she did not come out and said nothing ; she 
must have been angry. Having been suddenly 
attacked in her snug sleep, it was reasonable for 

;iog 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

her to get angry. If I had been she I would have 
got angry too. 

" I have done it by my kindness for you. Don't 
be angry so long. What a fool you are!" I 
dragged her out, and, taking her in my arms, 
stroked her cheek with mine. She mewed, and 
we were chums soon. 

This evening I was engaged three times, each to 
a different restaurant. The guests in the last house 
were all heavy drinkers, and I was much troubled 
by their playing pranks till late in the night. 
When I came home it was past twelve, and soon 
went to bed, carrying Miss Mike in my arms 
again, as I had done on the previous night. 



B. Sympathy of the Hostess 

In an upstairs room of a geisha-house there are 
two girls sitting opposite to each other ; one is the 
hostess of the house, still carrying on herself as a 
singing girl though she is now over thirty years 
old, and the other a young girl employed in the 
house. 

" There are no other ways for you now," con- 
tinues the hostess, soothing her girl, " and this is 
a matter common in the world. The mind of Mr 
Mori, your lover, is never changed, but both you 
and he have chanced upon such an unlucky event. 
There is nothing for you to regret, and you shall 
leave your fate to heaven. It is wise to listen to 
my advice and to wait quietly for the better days 
to come. You see, my dear? I know very well 
it is a great hardship for you to part with him." 

" Many thanks for your kindness," replies 

Kohina (Little Doll), the young girl. " But 
j > 

" No but ! " interrupts the elder girl ; " that's no 
good for you. Wait for a good chance and I shall 

no 



THE GEISHA CIRCLE AT PRESENT 

not fail to make an arrangement satisfactory to you. 
Patience is important in everything." 

"Thank you very much. I understand your 
kind advice. My dear hostess, I am " 

" Yes, my dear, go on. Why you weep so like 
a little child ? See, crows are laughing at you ! " 

"I am very painful to part from him. But 
according to your advice, I have made up my mind 
not to see him until a good luck turns to us again." 

"Oh, I am glad to have you understood my 
words," says the old singing girl. ' Then you 
shall have the last meeting with Mr Mori this 
evening." 

" No, neisan (hostess or elder girl)," replies the 
young girl, "he cannot come out of his house 
because the manager of his father's shop is strictly 
keeping watch over him." 

"Then I shall go and see the manager, and by 
playing a trick get his consent to set his young 
master free for this evening. Now go and take 
bath before the evening comes ; meanwhile I shall 
make arrangements for reception of your lover." 

" Thank you very much. I shall never forget 
your kindness." 

" After bathing, you will do your best for your 
toilet, for he cannot see his beautiful love for some 
time after this evening. Ha, ha, ha ! " The hostess 
chaffs and laughs. 

Kohina, the young girl, goes out for the public 
bath, and the hostess, sitting down alone by the 
side of a large oblong brazier in the downstairs 
room, has a smoke and then wets her throat by 
taking a cup of tea. The maidservant, who went 
out for shopping soon after the lunch, does not yet 
come back ; perhaps she may be loitering about on 
the way. It is now past two and the girl-house 
lane is rather quiet about this time. The boiling 
kettle on the fire in the brazier is breaking the 
silence of the room. 

in 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

The hostess begins to ponder over the new event 
concerning her girl, and compares it with the past 
course of her own life. She is an old geisha girl 
now, in her thirty-fifth year of age, and still pre- 
serves the temper that never acknowledges a defeat 
since her youth. When she was about twenty 
years old she had a lover, but is now leading a 
celibate life for a long time. Ruminating on 
the past sometimes, she may not be without feel- 
ing lonesome, but on such an occasion she goes 
early to bed after taking some glasses of hot 
wine. 

It seems to her that lately she could understand 
the true state of things, specially concerning love, 
and that she has now attained the age of mature 
discernment. She thinks also that when she was 
young or in the age of her first love, it was pleasant 
for her to be totally absorbed in the love itself; 
that when in the mature age over twenty, it was 
interesting to be troubled in jealousy ; and that now 
as the old girl, it is funny to look at the love-affair 
of young girls without getting in the way. She 
believes that all girls are going on their course of 
life in such an order; nay, if others may not be so, 
she is sure that she is satisfied with it. 

As she has been long to live in the gay circle 
since she first became a dancing girl in her very 
youth, she does not wish now to give up her present 
business, but likes simply to lead a lively life and 
end it prosperously. In a word, she does never 
look for a strict household. 

She is very fond of ^irls in the flower of maiden- 
hood, no matter whether their face may be long 
or round, but if she happens to meet any of them 
with the bright and transparent skin, lustrous black 
hair, and dressed in the stylish gay clothes, she 
feels to see that the blood circulating through the 
veins of their body is boiling for love at the bottom 
of their tender breast, and she hopes that they could 

112 




A ROOM IN A GEISHA HOUSE. 



THE GEISHA CIRCLE AT PRESENT 

enjoy themselves for their holy love without being 
prevented by others. 

She has the same idea for her own young girl, 
Kohina. Ko-hina, who is now seventeen years 
old, has fallen in love with the son of a rich mercer 
in a neighbouring street since the spring of the 
last year. Not only the hostess did not blame her, 
but helped her how to show her sincerity for the 
new lover. But lately, his dissipation having been 
discovered by his father, he was compelled to be 
driven away to his relative in the country. If the 
hostess of the young girl were an ordinary woman 
of the geisha profession, she would have railed at 
her in foul language, but on the contrary she was 
kind enough to provide them with the farewell 
meeting in a room of her own house. 

At first when Kohina attained her beautiful 
prime the hostess prayed that she would change 
mitsumame for a lover, and often told her that as 
the palmy days of womanhood pass away soon she 
should have a honey dream as early as possible, 
and enjoy it as long as she could. It was in 
January of the last year when the young lovely 
girl like a doll first fell in love with a young, hand- 
some gentleman. When she came home late in 
evening from her service to a New Year's dinner- 
party, held by the chief merchants in vicinity, how 
glad was the hostess to find by her bashful face and 
different attitude that she could first understand 
the sweetness of the pure love ! 



It is now late in evening, and a faint sound of 
samisen played in a distant restaurant is barely 
heard. 

In a room upstairs of the geisha-house, Kohina 
and her lover sit down face to face, but both can 
speak nothing. An electric lamp on the ceiling is 
shining drearily over their heads, and silence of 

IT3 H 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

the room is only disturbed by secret sobbings of 
the girl. 

To avoid troubles, the hostess sent out her maid- 
servant to a yosse (variety-hall, particulars of which 
are explained in " The Nightside of Japan "), 
and, after preparing herself the table for the two, 
carries it to the upstairs. 

" Hina-chan (Miss Hina)," calls the hostess, 
standing on the upper step of the stairs, "here 
are the table and brazier." 

"Thank you, neisan (my hostess)/* replies the 
girl, wiping off her tears and coming to the stair- 
case. 

" I have some business to go out/ 1 continues 
the old girl; " as there is nobody downstairs, 
please take care of it." And she goes out. 

When the hostess comes home after about two 
hours, Kohina asks her permission for visiting a 
shrine near the house together with her lover. 
The hostess gives her consent to the proposal, and, 
after sending them out, takes her seat alone in her 
own room. 

The maidservant comes home from the yosse 
and serves for the hostess a bottle of hot sake 
(wine), which she is pleased to take leisurely. She 
finishes drink, and then goes to bed furnished with 
a foot-warmer. Though she lies in bed she cannot 
go to sleep, the affairs of her girl Kohina weigh- 
ing on her mind. To suddenly cut off the relation 
between the two, she thinks, is too cruel for them 
in puberty, and though his father does not like 
women in our profession, yet the geisha girls are 
recognised by gentlemen even of the higher rank 
to be useful for society ; and whatever social stand- 
ings may men or women be in, the people should 
deal leniently with them if there were any faults 
in their youth. 

She continues still to think : Now in this very 
114 



THE GEISHA CIRCLE AT PRESENT 

night the two are in great troubles for their tem- 
porary parting. What a pity for them ! For 
their present happiness they may be better to 
elope somewhere. It must be a great regret for 
herself to lose Kohina whom she has so well 
trained in the accomplishments and everything, 
but it is too pitiful to see her weep after she was 
separated by coercion from her man. 

She recollects her own elopement once experi- 
enced in her bloom ; she blushes herself, and next 
a smile peeps on her face. It is a great pity to 
force them apart! Elopement, elopement in this 
very night, and nothing else for them ! 

At length she goes to sleep. 



C. A Faithful Girl 

Matsuko (Miss Pine), a singing girl, was con- 
scious herself of her growing thinner and thinner, 
but she could not take a rest even a day. She had 
not only to sustain her old mother and weak 
brother, but also was faithful enough to aid her 
ruined lover, Miyoshi, who, having failed in his 
enterprises, now shut himself up in a little room of 
a poor block in an alley. 

When the business of her lover was prosperous 
she was very happy, and her family could lead an 
unconcerned life by her profuse monthly supplies. 
But in these days after he has fallen into the 
bottom of his misfortune she was compelled to run 
into debt, whatever efforts she made in her calling. 

One day her hostess advised her : " As you know 
very well, we often see a miserable end of the 
relation between a girl and her customer, and it is 
no wonderful event in our gay circle. It is a 
common usage that when a guest has money be 
comes to take pleasure, and hires geisha girls who 
make efforts to please him. I think you have no 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

duty at present to support Mr Miyoshi, who was 
your patron once. Yes, you may have received no 
little benefits from him, but even if you will not 
trouble yourself about his present situation, I am 
sure he will not complain to you. Mind that you 
have a great burden to sustain your old mother 
and sickly brother; and if there will arise any 
troubles by washing your hands of him we would 
not fail to settle them for you." 

Similar advices were given by her fellow-girls 
too, but as she did not listen to them she was 
given up by them as well as by the hostess, all of 
whom now looked unconcerned at her pains which 
she only brought upon herself. The fellow-girls 
in the same house turned to her backbiters, and 
those who had- paid homage to her in her great 
prosperity only six months ago treated her very 
cold as if she were an unacquainted new-comer. 
She thought, however, that it was not unreason- 
able to receive such a treatment from them, and at 
the same time she acknowledged herself that she, 
in these days, was not the girl Matsuko flourished 
half a year ago. 

Lately her beauty, which had been very famous 
among the girls and customers of the Shimbashi 
quarter, wonderfully declined, and her engage- 
ments by customers became less and less day by 
day. Though she did not attain the age to be 
generally given up by people as an old geisha, yet 
they were cool enough to be laughing at her fading 
beauty. 

Of course if she, according to the advice of 
others, had given him up and done her best for 
her business only, there would have been no 
troubles for herself, as well as for the living of her 
family; but she could not be such a heartless 
woman. If, however, it was necessary to part from 
him for his own benefit, she would not deny to do 
so, however hard she felt about the parting. 

116 



THE GEISHA CIRCLE AT PRESENT 

One evening she was engaged to a restaurant 
and waiting upon the guests very carefully, but 
feeling unpleasant for the cool treatment which 
she suffered from the other girls attending in the 
same room, at last she took leave from the guests, 
pretending that she felt ill, and alone left the 
restaurant. With her heart, which she felt as if to 
burst, she was hardly walking down a narrow side- 
street when a luke breeze^of the spring eve stroked 
loose hairs of her locks. Through a hedge or 
bamboo fence along the street white flowers whose 
name was unknown to her could be seen floating 
in the twilight of the evening, and the lanterns 
near the doors of houses standing on both sides 
were throwing their feeble lights on the road, and 
a charming tune of samisen in a distant restaurant 
was at times brought by the wind to her ears. 

In this evening the colour of her face was quite 
pale, though it was usual to her to be red after 
drinking, and her nervous eyes appeared more 
dreadful than ever. But when she was going on 
and turned a corner to another by-street, her heart, 
which had been beating high, became gradually 
calm, and she began to feel solitary now. She 
turned again into a small lane which lay between 
the shops of a tailor and a greengrocer. The long, 
dirty boards covering the sewer which ran through 
the middle of the lane were in the same colour with 
that of the wet ground, and the land here being 
much lower than the other part of the quarter, it 
was damp as much as it went to the inner. 

When she went on along a well, evading a 
dust-bin put on its opposite side, her nose was 
assailed with an offensive odour almost unbear- 
able. All the inhabitants in the backcourt were 
hardly managing to live on from day to day, and 
everything existing within the limits of the alley 
seemed to her to be almost rotten. 

At the moment when she was about to turn 
117 



A* 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

another corner where noisy cries of a little child 
were heard within a room of the tenement house, 
unexpectedly she met with Chiyoko (Miss Thou- 
sand Ages), a dancing girl who lived in the same 
house with her and was very much favoured by 
her. 

" Ain't you Chii-chan (a colloquial for Miss 
Chiyoko)? " called Matsuko to the young girl. 

"Oh, neisan (my elder sister), glad to see 
you ! " cried Chiyoko, and ran up to her elder. 

The young girl was dressed in the long-sleeved 
silk clothes of a showy texture, tied with the 
broad sash of figured satin, and had on a pair of 
lacquered high wooden clogs. Matsuko or Miss 
Pine was specially fond of her among other young 
dancing girls in her house, and while she had 
been prosperous half a year ago she had always 
recommended the girl to her customers, and when 
at home in daytime was very kind to give her the 
reviews on dancing and music; indeed she loved 
her like her true sister. 

" You were engaged to Kagetsu (restaurant), 
I think," said the elder girl, " and why are you 
rambling hereabout? If discovered you would be 
blamed by the mother (hostess)." 

11 No, my sister," replied the younger, shaking 
her head, "I'm not rambling. The guests of 
Kagetsu already went away, and as soon as I took 
leave I came to bring him a box of dishes." 

" Indeed ! Oh, my dear Chii-chan ! " cried Miss 
Pine, and at the same moment her eyes were full 
of tears; she was sorry to think that the present 
condition of her lover was sympathised even by 
such a little girl. 

Chiyoko explained her that all the girls who had 
attended to the restaurant had been gifted by the 
guests with some dishes. After the guests had 
departed, while the other girls had been taking 
the dainties, she had put her own portion in a 

118 



THE GEISHA CIRCLE AT PRESENT 

small box to present it to the man of her kind 
sister-girl, and was just on her way back from his 
house. 

" My Chii-chan," said the elder girl, wiping 
the tears with a handkerchief, " I thank you for 
your kindness." 

" Don't mention, my dear sister," interrupted 
the younger; ''I shall go home soon. Good- 
bye!" 

" If you are discovered by any of the other girls 
in our house you may be troubled. Go home at 
once." 

" Yes; and I shall not tell anybody that I have 
met you here. Good-bye." 

44 No, never tell anybody about it! If known 
there may be some troubles for me. Good-bye, 
my dear! " 

Miss Pine .saw off her beloved young sister until 
the latter went out of the narrow alley. No sooner 
she entered the poor house of her lover than she 
threw herself upon the floor and burst to tears. In 
the middle of a small room Miyoshi, her lover, was 
sitting alone with his head hung down and lost 
in thought. The box which had been brought by 
the dancing girl was put, still unopened, on a table, 
by the side of which a small lamp was dimly 
lighted. 

" Have you met with Chiyoko? " inquired he in 
a spiritless voice and without raising his head; 
but instead of replying to him she wept bitterly, 
and he melted into tears too. A mosquito flew 
away with its weak hum over their heads. The 
house being backed with a bamboo grove, it was 
comparatively quiet rather than other houses in 
the neighbourhood, and suited for a refuge of a 
man in great agony. Though it was old and 
almost dilapidated, yet in the cottage the two for- 
saken by the world were prevented by nobody to 
weep for their love. 

119 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

The wind passed over the bamboo grove, and 
birds that could not get roost were chirping faintly. 
The man raised his head and saw his girl, who was 
still in her whimpering. He said nothing and 
went to the sink to wash his face. After he 
washed he poured new water into the basin and 
said to her: " I say, don't you wash your face? " 

She was moved with his kin.dness. 

Near the little lamp which was covered with a 
piece of old newspaper for a shade the two were 
sitting lonely opposite to each other. 

" I am very sorry to trouble you so much," 
uttered the man at last; " there is no promise for 
me to be here in such a state, and I thought it 
would be better to go to Osaka until I find some 
means for living. To-day I wrote to a friend there, 
and if his answer is convenient for me I shall go 
to Osaka." 

On hearing his words she stared at his face with 
a dreadful look. 

" I have not expected to trouble you so long," 
added he gently, avoiding her gaze, " but as my 
failures were so great ..." 

4 What then? " interrupted the girl in a sharp 
tone. 

44 What? . . ." 

"You will give me up, I know!" continued 
she in her quick and nervous tone. "A humble 
woman like me is to be abandoned by you after 
all, but . . ." 

She threw herself upon his knee and cried. 
Though he tried to console her yet he could not 
top her from weeping. It was her habit to fall 
in such a fit whenever she became irritable, and 
there was no way for him but to wait for a good 
while until she got recovered. He thought it was 
a pity for her that this bad habit of her lately 
became violent more and more. 

120 



THE GEISHA CIRCLE AT PRESENT 

" Don't cry, my dear! " said the man when he 
saw her, who hardly got quiet, " it was my wrong 
to speak such a matter on such an occasion. 
Pardon me it was my fault, and don't be angry. 
I have nothing in my mind but to feel sorry for 
you. If I see you weep I feel a great pain. Don't 
cry, don't cry! " 

Giving a handkerchief to her who wiped her 
eyes with it, he added: ** Here is a bottle of wine 
brought by your sister; will you drink it with 
me?" 

1 Yes, I will," replied the girl. 

" Chiyoko is a good-natured girl," said he; "I 
heartily thanked for her kindness." 

" As I am a good-for-nothing," moaned she, 
" I trouble even that little girl." 

"No, no, my dear!" tried he to soothe her. 
" Being helped by you I can live here very happy. 
That's true." 

The bottle of wine was warmed in a kettle, and 
the forlorn couple took up a cup to cheer their 
spirits. 



D. A Girl and a Millionaire 

It was in October, 1914, when a man well known 
as a millionaire of four million yen and one of the 
five great landowners in Kobe, one of the great 
trade-ports in Japan, suddenly disappeared from 
the city. Where did he go? The question was 
put all round by his friends and acquaintances. 
Some said that he had gone to Formosa, some that 
he had run to Korea, and the others that he was 
confined in a room of a certain insane hospital, but 
nobody could catch the true state of affairs. Any- 
how, the fact that a noted millionaire had suddenly 
vanished was rumoured among the citizens of the 
port as an extraordinary event. 

121 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

Who was the millionaire in question ? He was 
Goro Hayashi of a high reputation, under the nick- 
name of Patron Crystal among the gay circle of 
Kobe, and so the sudden disappearance of the rich 
patron was a great loss for the geisha girls living 
in the city. ,Where and why did he conceal him- 
self ? All his friends were again astounded by 
finding that he was chanting the Buddhist sacred 
books in a temple of Kyoto, having his head shaved 
and wrapping his body with a priest's black robe. 
Then what was the cause of his unexpected be- 
haviour by giving up his prosperity and wealth of 
four millions and entering the priesthood all of a 
sudden ? 

Behind his religious awakening there was a 
beauty named Momiji (Maple), who had constituted 
a strange background for his strange life, and 
given a wonderful colouring in his half-life of forty 
years. 

Ten years ago when he came back from London 
he became the director of the Hayashi Partner- 
ship, with the capital of one million yen. Then 
how was his connection with the geisha girl 
Maple ? 

To have Patron Crystal enlisted in the priest- 
hood and secluded from the world at last, there 
was something profound in the relation between 
him and the beauty. At the time when he came 
home from England she was a young girl in one 
of the gay quarters of the port and very noted as 
a bright belle among the Kobe girls. It was in 
her sixteenth year of age when the young girl, 
shining like a new moon among many stars, was 
first engaged by her future patron ; soon he ran- 
somed her, and, having built a splendid villa at 
Mirume in the outskirts of the city, took her in it 
as his lovely young mistress. We are told that 
the new villa cost more than one hundred thousand 
yen. 

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THE GEISHA CIRCLE AT PRESENT 

Next year he failed in his business and lost 
more than five hundred thousand yen. He became 
desperate and ventured on speculations, but as 
the fortune did not turn to him everything he 
had done resulted unsuccessfully. At last he was 
compelled to withdraw from his partnership, the 
position of the director being taken by his younger 
brother, and to retire from all his business under 
the condition that one thousand yen would be 
paid to him as the monthly allowance. 

One thousand yen! It is a pretty good sum for 
the monthly expense, but melted away like butter 
in the mouth for the Patron Crystal, who had been 
long accustomed in the luxurious life. His sweet- 
heart in the villa of Mirume reappeared as a 
geisha girl at another gay quarter of Kobe. She 
was now twenty-three years old, but her beautiful 
complexion did not let her appear to be a girl 
over twenty. Soon she became one of the most 
popular girls in the port, and at the same time 
very famous for her excellent morals, so that she 
was generally believed by her customers, as well 
as by her fellow-girls, to remain chaste for her 
ex-patron. 

The fifth of October, 1914, was the memorial 
day on which a new life was opened for Goro 
Hayashi, the millionaire of four million yen. On 
the morning of the day he went out of his house, 
telling his family that he was going to a barber, 
but he did not come back. Two days passed, 
three days passed, but he never appeared to his 
home. Being greatly anxious of his fate, all his 
family searched after, but no trace of him. 

One evening, just a week after his disappear- 
ance, a letter arrived to his brother from a man 
named Meizui in the temple Manjuin, Kyoto, and 
when he opened and read it he was surprised to 
find that Meizui was the Buddhist name of his 
elder brother, taken after entering the priesthood j 

123 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

moreover, none of the family could utter a word 
when they saw a photograph enclosed in the letter 
of his standing figure, with his head shaved, and 
dressed in the black canonicals and carrying the 
beads in his hand. 

Besides the family and friends of the new priest, 
one most surprised by the event was the girl 
Maple, who, on hearing the serious matter, re- 
mained stupefied for a while and could not take 
her business for a few days. 

Lately the priest Meizui visited one of his old 
friends at Kobe and said: " They may call me an 
outcast of the gay quarters or a ruined of the 
business circle. It is nothing for me. Since I 
secluded myself my spirit has been cheered. Some 
of my friends believe that I am not a man to 
remain as a priest to the end, and that I will 
return to the secular life sooner or later. But you 
can understand my firm will if you know that I 
brought out my villa at Mirume for sale. In 
future, I intend to enter Mongolia and serve for 
life there in the propagation of Buddhism. I was 
told that some people are speaking ill of the girl 
Maple, attributing the cause of my retirement to 
her, but I assure that she is not a woman of such 
a kind as misunderstood by them." 



E. A School for Geisha Girls and Waitresses 

The following is a letter from a female student 
of the Geisha Girls' and Waitresses' School at 
Funatsu, a small town in the north and mountain- 
ous province Hida: 

" I am one of the female students of the Geisha 
Girls' and Waitresses' School at Funatsu, and 
as I learned only a little in a primary school in 
childhood, I had no knowledge to read and write. 

124 



THE GEISHA CIRCLE AT PRESENT 

But since I entered the school I am learning 
lessons by our kind teachers every day, and very 
glad to have a new knowledge instilled into my 
brain week after week; very glad to find the 
window of my dark mind gradually shone upon 
with sunbeams of the events old and new, past 
and present, good and bad, and various reasons of 
all matters in the world. 

"It is not I alone that receive the benefit of the 
school, but all of some seventy geisha girls and 
waitresses are equally favoured with the new know- 
ledges. While I am heartily feeling grateful for 
the school's kindness, I write you with the hope 
that the citizens of the capital will know the 
existence of such a special and laudable school in 
a small town at the ravine almost always covered 
with snow throughout the year. 

** As you know, it is our duty to sing and dance 
when we are hired by guests, and though we know 
many kinds of popular songs how to sing, but we 
did not understand their meanings. Our teachers 
select some good songs and give us the explana- 
tions of their meanings; thus we could find that 
there are good instructions for us among vulgar 
songs, which we are singing loud mechanically. 

"The town Funatsu is a small town, but being 
situated near the zinc mine of the Mitsui & Co., 
the hotels and restaurants in the town are always 
prosperous by the travellers from the capital and 
other cities. 

" The school was first established in the spring 
of 1915, and a big hall in the temple Eijo-in is 
used for the schoolroom. The subjects of study 
in our school are as follows : Popular lectures on 
morals and sanitation; reading, in the standard of 
a primary school and specially of those books 
important for the home-life; writing, ditto; arith- 
metic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and 
division, generally calculated with the Japanese 

125 






THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

abacus; composition a common letter-writing; 
sewing of all kinds of the Japanese clothes; eti- 
quette for females and specially necessary for the 
reception and so on in home ; cookery necessary in 
a common household. 

" By the police regulations all the girls living 
in the town and carrying on the profession of 
geisha or waitresses must enter the school, and 
according to the degrees of knowledge in reading, 
etc., all the students are divided into three classes; 
at present there are twenty-one geisha girls and 
forty-eight waitresses in the school, making sixty- 
nine in total." 



F. The Geisha GirVs Love Observed by a 
Geisha Girl 

My observation on the love-affairs of the girls 
belonging to our society? (said a beautiful young 
girl with a charming smile upon her face). That's 
a very difficult question for me, still young and 
inexperienced. Of course there must be the love 
questions among geisha girls, but the love is not 
their business, though it is generally thought to 
be an accessory to them. From the first and most 
noted girls down to the lowest class, those are rare 
that are not a bit spoken of their love-affairs. 

People censure us by the leasons that the love 
of the geisha girls always absorbs money, that 
they love money but not the men, and that they 
live for nothing but money. But they take a 
glance at only the outside of a cake-box, without 
looking into the sweets contained in it. If they 
observe us with the eyes of sympathy they can 
find out many instances of the very earnest and 
holy love among the girls of our profession. 

It is true that money is always necessary for the 
geisha's love, because it always acts as the go- 

126 



THE GEISHA CIRCLE AT PRESENT 

between for them and guests. In general, a lover 
of a geisha girl was once a new and unacquainted 
guest met first in a restaurant or assignation-house, 
and the two are better understood to each other as 
often as they meet. Now money is the only means 
for their meetings, or it is the thread which ties up 
the two whose connection can be never cut off as 
much as their love becomes deeper. 

The girl too does her best to raise the money, 
but as the world never goes as we wish, she 
becomes troubled to find the means for meetings. 
When a stream is dammed up it rages; so is it 
with love too. At length both the girl and her 
lover become desperate and fall into the depth of 
pecuniary troubles. It is truly said that love is 
blind. 

The geisha girls are not so philanthropic as to 
love all gentlemen they meet. Most of the girls 
paint their faces with the powder melted with their 
tears. Hence when a girl finds a man whom she 
takes a fancy to she becomes absorbed in him. 
Though her love is first brought forth by the go- 
between of money, yet her object is neither money 
nor honour, but only the love itself. So I can 
declare that the love of the geisha girls is purest 
and holiest. 

There are a great number of the geisha girls 
who can be classified into many kinds according 
to their capacities. In lower classes there may be 
those who are wandering about from one to another 
in a shallow love out of fickleness, but this is not 
limited to the girls of our profession ; we are told 
that the girls in a certain circle are used to change 
their lovers. 

Owing to the situation of geisha girls, they have 
to meet men night and day, and are accustomed to 
the stories of love-affairs since the very early age 
of young dancing girls. Some of them take the 
love as their privilege, and are ashamed of their 

127 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

own incompetency if they could not discharge this 
duty. 

If I, a young girl without much experiences in 
our circle, tell you such matters, I shall be ridiculed 
by the elder girls, and when I shall be an old 
stager I may be able to make a correct observation 
into the true state of the question. I believe, 
however, that the love must be intense, like a 
burning flame, taking no notice of all things but 
the love itself. 



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CHAPTER IX 

SHINJU OR THE DOUBLE SUICIDE 

THE double suicide or shinju is a special phen- 
omenon in Japan. In Europe there might be some 
events similar to the so-called shinju, but they are 
very rare, almost unworthy to treat of. In Japan, 
on the contrary, the question is very important, 
and if we study it up into its minute points, we are 
sure that we can make up a special sociology for 
Japan. 

The original meaning of the word shinju was 
faithfulness, single-heartedness, or fervour, and 
then it was applied to an action proving one's 
fervour. The examples of these actions with 
regard to the lovers were as follows: 

1. A woman gave a written pledge to her lover. 

2. She tattooed the lover's name in her arm. 

3. She cut her hair. 

4. She cut her little finger. 

5. She tore off the nail of one of her fingers. 

6. She stabbed her elbow or thigh. 

In the Genroku period (A.D. 1688-1703), when 
the civilisation under the Tokugawa Shogunate of 
Yedo attained its summit, the word was used to 
mean the lovers' suicide or double suicide, that is 
to say the joint death of a man and a woman who 
love each other and consent to die together. The 
meaning is still maintained for the word in the 
present days. Certainly the age of Genroku was 

129 I 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

the most civilised epoch in the old Japan, and at 
the same time the most prosperous period for the 
double suicide, a social phenomenon peculiar to 
Japan. 

If we read novels, dramatic works, and other 
books which were published in this age, we can 
find how much was the shinju looked with interest 
by the citizens of the time, and that at the same 
time the young and thoughtless lovers were as 
much influenced with these stories or news as to 
practise themselves in imitation of their preceding 
fools. The females who died in this unnatural 
way were mostly the girls in demi-monde quarters. 

Let us see an example of the double suicide that 
took place in the Genroku age: 

The death of the girl Ohatsu and her lover 
.Tokubei was one of the most famous double 
suicides. The event took place at Osaka, and the 
heroine Ohatsu was a young girl nineteen years 
old, beautiful like a new cherry blossom just in 
its blooming, while the hero Tokubei was an 
honest clerk, twenty-five years old, in the shop of 
a merchant who was his uncle. 

One day he told his girl : " My master being 
my real uncle, he is very kind to me, and I make 
efforts for his business. Having recognised my_ 
honesty, he lately told me that a niece of his wife 
shall be married to me. . . ." 

But he did not like to marry any other women 
but Ohatsu. He owed his uncle a sum of money 
which should be paid back before he refused the 
uncle's proposal of marriage, but he was so un- 
fortunate that he was swindled of the money, 
hardly raised himself, by a friend whom he mis- 
conceived to be very kind to him, and that he was 
slandered and knocked down as a forger of the 
bond in the presence of all the people. 

He was a nervous and passionate youth, arid 
though Ohatsu, his sweetheart, was passionate too, 



SHINJtT OR THE DOUBLE SUICIDE 

yet she had a will stronger than he. When he 
grieved at the parting which might occur to them 
if he was expelled from his uncle, she decidedly 
declared: " You are not a thief nor an incendiary, 
even if you are driven out by your uncle. Never 
mind, my dear, I can find any means to support 
you! " 

And when Tokubei revealed his resolution to 
die, at once she consented, or rather encouraged 
him, by saying: " Oh, you are quite right! It is 
the same, however long we live, and better to clear 
ourselves from shame by death ! " 

The cause of the death was, on one side, in the 
situation of the man who fell in great troubles for 
the questions of both love and money ; and the 
question of the social morality was included on 
the other. If he had given up his love he would 
have got rid of the troubles on money and morals, 
but his love was his life. 

The girl was also complaining of things going 
contrary to her wishes, and specially when she 
grew pessimistic owing to frequent obstructions by 
others for their meetings, she was told by him 
about the situations of his great troubles. Now 
she made her resolution in her mind, and gave 
him a hint for death as follows: " If it is impos- 
sible for us to meet freely in this world, we would 
go to a better land. On Mount Death and in the 
River Styx there would be nobody that interrupts 
us." 

Thus they consented to commit a double suicide. 
They ran to the woods of the Ten j in Shrine; the 
man cut the throat of his girl with a razor, and 
then killed himself with the same weapon. 

Many were the instances of the shinju in the 
Genroku age, following the almost equal course 
of life from their first falling into mutual love to 
their tragical end, after struggling long against 
the great difficulties of pecuniary, social and moral 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

questions. In the succeeding ages after Genroku 
we are told that there were the events regarding 
the united suicide between young men and women. 
Even in the present time we often read in news- 
papers the paragraphs reporting the foolish and 
cruel death of couples in blind love, though the 
females are not limited to the professional girls 
only. 

Now let us see the different kinds of the double 
suicide in this country. The most strange one 
was the joint double suicide of two couples. In 
the same room and at the same hour the two men 
killed their respective girls and committed suicide 
soon after. 

Another marvellous event was the shinju by 
coercion, and it may be suitable to call it the man's 
suicide after murdering his girl. We have never 
heard the suicide of a murderess who killed her 
lover. If we say that there was a double suicide 
by a single person as a kind of the shmju^ you 
would wonder what it means. But actually there 
were no few instances of a suicide given such a 
ridiculous appellation. A lover and his girl con- 
sented to commit a double suicide at a certain 
place, but either of the two broke the promise and 
did not appear to the appointed place at the ap- 
pointed time; then he or she was compelled to 
die alone. What a great fool ! 

Another fool was a man who committed suicide 
after stabbing a photograph of his sweetheart. He 
loved her heartily, but could not bear to kill her, 
so he took her photo as the substitute for her. 
How funny is it that the fortunate girl did not 
know the death of the kind and generous lover ! 

Besides those above mentioned, the different 
kinds of strange shinju were: 

The double suicide of two girls (unconcerned in 
love). 

iThe treble suicide of a lover and his two girls. 

132 



SHINJU OB THE DOUBLE SUICIDE 

The double suicide of a brother and his sister 
(unconcerned in love). 

The tricksy double suicide. This was not a 
true shinju, but they feigned to die as the means 
to escape from troubles or to attain a certain 
object for example, to marry which they could 
not accomplish by any other ways they had tried. 

The double suicide in adoption. A girl who 
had been given up by her lover was disappointed 
and resolved to die, but thinking it was foolish to 
die alone, she selected and entreated with croco- 
dile tears one of her doltish customers to be her 
fellow-traveller to the Realm of Shades. How 
grateful did he feel for her sincerity ! 

The second double suicide. A man tried to 
commit suicide together with his girl, but his life 
was fortunately (perhaps unfortunately for him) 
saved, while she died on the spot. On the same 
day of the same month in the third year after the 
event, he succeeded in the renewed double suicide, 
together with another girl. 

The after-follow double suicide. On the brink 
of death the man's mind changed and the girl died 
alone, but afterwards he again resolved, and died 
alone in pursuit of his lost girl. 

The double suicides in three consecutive genera- 
tions. A man committed a double suicide with a 
girl. It is strange that his uncle had hanged him- 
self together with a girl seventeen years ago, and, 
moreover, that the uncle of his father too had 
drowned himself in a river together with his love 
just seventeen years before the death of his uncle. 
Is there any mystic meaning on the equal intervals 
of the seventeen years, or may we infer any heredi- 
tary nature for the suicide of human beings? 

The means taken for the double suicides from 
ancient times down to the present were as follows : 
Edged tools, drowning, poison, being run over b] 
a train, hanging, firearms, dynamite, biting 

133 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

tongues, etc., etc. Most of those died by drown- 
ing had the two bodies bound up tightly, embrac- 
ing each other. A superstition for the double 
suicide was that the two could be together in the 
future world if they died with their clothes worn 
by exchanging each other. 

Now let us say something more from the moral 
and religious points of view about the double 
suicide of a man and a girl in the ardent love like 
a burning flame. What degree of morality is the 
phenomenon of the double suicide produced at? 
We are sure that there is a close connection between 
the phenomenon and the morality; no double 
suicide can be found in the society of human 
beings who have no reflections upon morality. 
When the society developed to the age where the 
violation of morality was accompanied with strong 
pains and where the self-control practised by re- 
flections and endeavours, we could see the first 
appearance of the double suicide. It does not take 
place in the human society of the rudimentary; 
morale, and certainly it is a counter-phenomenon 
of the advanced morality. 

The inspiration of Buddhism into the mind of 
the Japanese people contributed not a little to the 
occurrences of the shinju. The religion can be 
classified into the two principal sects : one advo- 
cates the doctrine for the present world, praying 
the present happiness, and the other for the future, 
aiming for entering Nirvana. By suicide every- 
body expects the necessary death, and to cut off 
the connection from the present world; so he has 
no need for the doctrine regarding the present 
world. If he has any hope after death it is for 
the future, and the double suicide is generally 
carried out with some expectations for the future 
world. 

The resolution for the shinju is always, or at 
least mostly, attended with the idea of the soul and 

134 



SHINJtT OR THE DOUBLE SUICIDE 

future, and we can reasonably conclude that the 
Buddhistic doctrine of the futurity sect gave a 
good fundamental idea, or became one cause, or 
helped the resolution, for commitment of the 
double suicide. 

Before concluding we have to observe that at 
present it is very rare to have the news of the 
geisha girls' shinjii, but remember that we cannot 
say that the unworthy events are extirpated for 
the girls in all gay quarters in the country. I have 
told you much of my knowledge of the geisha 
girl, and I now make a work on " Home Life in 
Japan," in which I will fully describe the daily 
life of families together with marriages, funerals, 
servants, socials and religions, children, women, 
politics, work, and also ideals of the Japanese. 



135 



APPENDIX I 

SONGS 

shall give some popular songs sung by the 
geisha girls: 

FLOWERS 

There are many kinds of beautiful flowers in different 

colours. 
But there is no flowers better than one which I am very 

fond of. 

I left behind a flower yet in bud ; it weighs on my mind 
whether it may blow without me. 

A MAIDEN 

Don't mind her innocence ; she will soon arrive at puberty. 
See a humble cottage shined upon by moonlight ; 
Or see beautiful flowers on a thorny rose-bush. 

On her way home from the transplantation of rice, 
She is pulled by the sleeve and winked at for the meeting 
in the eve. 

She listens for a Komuro tone sung as a signal for beckon- 
ing, 

And drops of dew remaining on the weeds are read by her 
to be spelled " My love ! " 

A SUMMER EVENING 

By watering the garden the heat of daytime is melted away, 
And a green bamboo blind hanging near the window is 
waving by a cool breeze. 

On a puddle of the garden moonlight is shining sdready, 
Though it is not yet dark in the eve. 

136 



SONGS 



A NIGHT IN AUTUMN 

In autumn swallows leave and wild geese come. 

How sad I feel to hear tolls of a curfew, alone waiting for 

the lover, 
And it may be a hint for me to get wet with the cold 

autumn shower. 

A SPRING EVE 

Towards the eve of spring, when lying down with my arm 

for a pillow, 

There comes a vernal rain which blows wild cherry blossoms, 
And I hope the flowers may act as a go-between for my love. 

THE RIVER SUMIDA 

In spring the River Sumida is crowded with visitors. 
On the bank green colour of the pine needles is deeper, 
Fragrance of the plum flowers drifts in the breeze, 
Over the pool of Love cherry blossoms bloom, 
And a pair of water-fowls is playing on the stream, 
Just as I am strolling with my love. 

CHERRY FLOWERS 

Cherry flowers on a distant hill may be mistaken for clouds 

or snow ; 

Oyster-catchers which take a nap on the water are aroused 
By ripples risen by a spring breeze. 
In a house-boat shut up with paper slides 
Samisen is played and songs are sung, 
Perhaps by beautiful girls, and we wish to peep into it. 

A CUCKOO 

In a retired spot where we can hear cuckooing constantly, 

we have to go five miles for a piece of bean-curd and 

seven miles to get a bottle of wine ; 
I am contented with the poor life in such an inconvenient 

rustic cottage, in which I pass night and day together 

with my flame; 
Having left myself to him, I don't care whether I may die 

on the wayside of a plain or starve near the stream of 

a valley. 

A cuckoo ! Let me hear you once more ! 

The moonlight is bright in the sky, yet your figure cannot 

be seen. 
How provoking and how tiresome ! Ah, what shall I do ? 

137 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 



A LOVER 

Deeper and deeper is my love for him day after day. 
Neither I care for the lapse of time nor for the slander of 




others. 

;ee him even a day I am anxious all day, 

" im; 



If I don't see him even a day I am anxious all day, 
But if I see him, too selfish am I to be obedient to hi 
So fond of him am I that I envy his loveliness. 

A MELON WATCHMAN 

A farmer cultivates a melon patch. Being afraid of plun- 
derers, he keeps watch over melons every night. 

But after several nights on the watch, it happened one 
night that he fell asleep with a melon for his pillow. 



138 



APPENDIX II 

GIRLS IN LOCAL CITIES AND TOWNS 

JAPAN is sometimes called " The Island of Girls in 
the Eastern Sea." We know not whether the 
name has been given owing to abundance of the 
females or to express admiration for beauty of them. 
To treat of beauties in the country we must care- 
fully observe them from two standpoints: one is 
the geographical and the other the historical obser- 
vation. From the geographical point we must 
find and trace the veins of beauty throughout the 
country, and from the historical one we are to 
distinguish her different phrases specially esteemed 
in each epoch, or in other words to observe the 
aesthetic views on the beauty in the different ages. 

To classify in general, the coasts along the 
Pacific Ocean are scarce of beauty, but on the 
contrary those along the Sea of Japan are rich irt 
them; the chief causes of the difference may be 
attributed to the relation of climate and tide. We 
are told that beauties are produced in Ugo, Echigo, 
and those provinces on the highway of San-in-do, 
all these being the provinces along the Sea of 
Japan. 

The veins of the beauty, however, are not limited 
to the coast-line, but Kyoto is celebrated for the 
white skin washed and polished with the water of 
the River Kamo, while Nagoya is noted for the 
production of belles too. The northern part of 

139 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

Shikoku Island and Satsuma province in Kyushu 
Island are also the cradles of them. 

Under the general denomination of so-called 
beauties there are differences in the type of coun- 
tenance according to the dissimilitude of local 
tastes: the typical girls of Tokyo are of light 
brownish colour and slender body, those of 
Nagoya have the face with its lower part plumped 
out, Kyoto beauty's face resembles an over-turned 
isosceles triangle in its form, Osaka fat, and 
Echigo the fine skin. 

The aesthetic views are different according to 
the human races. The types which gratify us do 
not please the Europeans; we tremble to see the 
barbarian's girls in the South Sea Islands, and 
do not take the Chinese ladies of round forehead 
as the beautiful. The difference of taste is not 
only found on the face, but also on dressing, com- 
portment, and everything. 

In a race we find that the taste on beauty differs 
in each epoch. In a certain age the Japanese 
women shaved off their eyebrows and blackened 
their teeth ; the girls were glad to apply very thick 
rouge to their lips so that its surface appeared to 
glitter. Besides dressing, there were different 
tastes on the form of face in different ages, and 
there may be no objection if we say that the form 
popular at the present time is rather round. 

In the eleventh century when the court officials 
of the Fujiwara family exercised their influence, 
the fat women with the eyes narrowly open and 
lower than usual at the external canthuses were 
loved by men ; the shape of the face was somewhat 
round with the swollen cheeks and the double 
chin. In the Kamakura age (twelfth and thir- 
teenth centuries) the simple warriors of the mili- 
tary clan in the east seem to have preferred the 
fine and slender beauties in contrast to the taste 
of troublesome court nobles. 

140 



GIRLS IN CITIES AND TOWNS 

In the Tokugawa age (sixteenth to nineteenth 
centuries) the Genroku epoch (A.D. 1688-1703) 
would be proper to be taken as the representative 
for the age on the points of fashions, tastes, and 
inclinations; indeed the Genroku was the period 
most prosperous, wealthy, and peaceful through- 
out the Shogunate dynasty of Yedo. 

Now let us refer to the taste on the beauty at 
this epoch more minutely : The roundish face in a 
little rosy colour, the eyes not narrowly opened, 
thick eyebrows, the nose high gradually down- 
wards, the small mouth, the teeth white and in 
regular rows, the longish ears with narrow edges, 
the thick, black hair regularly combed above the 
forehead and round the long neck, the long and 
pliant ringers with thin nails, the small feet, the 
trunk longer than usual and the waist not big, 
dignified in the figure and tender-hearted, well 
trained in all accomplishments necessary for the 
female, and no mole all over the body. 

If we refer to the pictures drawn by the famous 
artists in this epoch, such as Moronobu Hishikawa 
and Sukenobu Nishikawa, we can easily under- 
stand the type of the beauty at the period. For 
the types after the Genroku, the pictures by Uta- 
maro or Toyokuni would show the reflections of 
the succeeding periods. 



14. YokoKama 

The gay quarter in Yokohama was first estab- 
lished at Minatozaki Street in A.D. 1860, a year 
after the port was first opened for the foreign 
trade. At first there were five or six geisha-houses 
in the street, and most of the girls were to attend 
the guests who visited the brothels of the quarter. 
The largest brothels at the time were Gankiro, 
Iwazatoro, Isosuzuro, and Shin-Gankiro, and the 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

Gankiro was very popular among foreigners as a 
merriment place for them. A great gate stood at 
the entrance of the quarter, and, passing through 
it, there was a long street called the Nakanocho 
(Middle Street); on both sides of the street there 
we found six guide-houses, a guild office of geisha, 
and the largest brothels. Turning to the left 
there was the first street of Minatozaki Street, and 
here a row of the geisha-houses could be found. 

Afterwards the quarter was removed to Suga- 
tami Street, next to Takashima Street, and at last 
to Eiraku and Magane Streets, as it is at present. 
The geisha girls are divided into two great circles, 
the Kan-nai and the Kan-gai; the former is in 
the central part, and the latter in the outer side 
of the city, the greater part of the girls living in 
the central part and amounting to over three thou- 
sands in their number. 

In the east suburb called Kanagawa there lives 
a great body of girls, independent of the two 
circles of the city. In the pleasure quarter of the 
district there was a grand famous brothel called 
Jimpuro, well known among foreigners as the 
No. IX shop, but it closed business in A.D. 1903. 

In the girls of Yokohama there are some who 
can hardly speak and understand European 
languages, and it is very funny to hear their 
Yokohamatic English or German, chattering boldly 
among young Japanese and foreign dandies. 



B. Nagoya 

The licensed prostitute quarter of Nagoya, the 
largest city at the central part of Japan, was first 
established in A.D. 1874, and then in those streets 
Chojamachi, Shichikencho, and Uonotana, which 
were the seats of gay circles under tacit permission 
up to the above date, the girls in the profession of 




r 





GIRLS IN CITIES AND TOWNS 

singing and dancing appeared publicly in abun- 
dance. The geisha girls living within the licensed 
quarter were not few, too, and as their houses were 
marked with lanterns hanging at the doors, they 
were nicknamed " Lantern Girls." The brothels 
keeping a good number of singing girls in their 
own employment, they did not like to hire those 
lantern-girls for the guests who visited the brothels 
and wished to engage the geisha. 

As the result of the long quarrels between the 
brothels and the lantern-girls, the latter left the 
quarter at last, and opened their business at Mon- 
zencho Street in A.D. 1895, organising a new power- 
ful circle under the name Mutsumi-ren. About the 
same time there happened feuds among the three 
circles of Chojamachi, Uonotana, and Shichiken- 
cho, and they were compelled to split into several 
smaller parties. At present the following geisha 
circles of Nagoya are rivalling one another: 
Kuruwa (licensed quarter), Sei-ei, 'Asahi, Shino- 
nome, Mutsumi (ex-lantern-girls), Kinjo, Azuma, 
Yawataj Yanagi, Sakae, and Senyu. 

Nagoya girls are very noted for their beauty and 
accomplishments, and we are told that their skilful 
dancing of the Nishikawa school cannot be seen at 
any other cities. 

C. Kyoto 

For a few years after the capital of Japan waS 
removed to Tokyo (A.D. 1869), the gay quarters in 
Kyoto were solitary, but they could recover their 
old prosperity, together with the establishment of 
the First National Exhibition in the city in A.D. 
'1872, and at present there are eight licensed 
quarters for girls : Gion A Class or Gion Proper, 
Gion B Class or Zeze-ura, Miyagawacho, Shima- 
bara, Kamishichiken, Shichijo-Shincni, Gobancho, 
and Pontocho. 

8*5 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

Gion Proper is the best spot for singing and 
dancing throughout the city, the largest and most 
celebrated restaurants within its boundary being 
Mantei, Izutsu, Nakamuraro, Toriimoto, and To- 
gano-o. If a great party is given in one of these 
large restaurants it is a custom to have the three 
succeeding dances of girls performed to enhance 
the mirth; the first is the fellow dance of small 
dancing girls, the second that of younger singing 
girls, and the last the single dance of an older 
girl. 

Besides the restaurants above mentioned and 
many other large and small ones in the vicinity, 
there are two kinds of public-houses called kashi- 
zashiki and sekigashi; Ichiriki, Minoyoso, and 
Onotei are the most famous of the former and 
generally attended by the first-class girls, the ac- 
commodations of the last, Onotei, being most 
suited for foreign travellers; and the latter are 
a kind of inns and most of them found in 
a row in the Street Kiyamachi along the River 
TakasS. 

After the first of July all these houses are 
arranged with the open floors or platforms con- 
structed over the stream, and towards the evening 
guests assemble here to take cool and hire girls 
whose chatters, laughters, singing, and playing 
on samisen are so noisy that the sound of currents 
of the river are utterly overcome by them. (See 
" Kyoto " in " The Nightside of Japan.") 

Pontocho is the old and very prosperous quarter 
next to Gion. It is situated on the western bank 
of the River Kamo, just opposite to Gion on its 
east bank, and limited at the Sanjo Bridge to the 
north and the Shi jo Bridge to the south. Along 
both sides of the street there stand the public-houses 
kashizashiki in two rows, and on the western side 
we find a number of alleys which lead to the Street 
Kiyamachi. The River Takase washes the banks 

144 



GIRLS IN CITIES AND TOWNS 

of the street, and small tow-boats are calmly going 
up and down the stream. 

At the rear of the houses on the eastern side 
there flows the River Kamo. What a nice view 
we can have from a room in one of these houses I 
The clear stream of Kamo and Mounts Kwacho 
and Otowa to the east; Amida Peak and Inari Hill 
to the south ; and Mountains Nyoi and Hiei to the 
north as much as all so-called thirty-six peaks 
can be overlooked at once. No house in Gion can 
command such a view any ways. 

The public-houses of the first class here are 
Nishiya, Kaji-tei, Ueda-ume, Komatsutake, and 
Takanami. As to the restaurants in the street, the 
most famous ones are Matsumura, Umemura, Sei- 
karo, and Kyorakuken; Kikusui is popular for 
chicken and Nanyoken for European dishes. 

Six other quarters are all flourishing, too, and the 
geisha girls of the third class live in Kami- 
Shichiken. 

D. Osaka 

The greater part of the Shimmachi quarter was 
destroyed by the fire in A.D. 1895, but having been 
soon restored to its old form, it is now in good 
prosperity. The north quarter or Sonezaki was 
also burnt up by a great conflagration of 1912, but 
all the houses having been rebuilt immediately, the 
girls in the quarter are full of business at present. 

The five circles at the south quarter are in their 
extreme thriving, the famous bustling region of 
Dotombori being situated at the centre of them, 
and a great number of noted girls have made their 
appearance. The names of the five circles are as 
follows : 

i. So-emon-cho, on the north bank of the River 
Dotombori, and limited by the Bridge Ebisu on 
one side and the Bridge Nippon on the other. It 

145 K 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

is sometimes called Shimanouchi or Shima, and 
is the centre of pure Osaka geiko. 

2. Kuro-emon-cho, on the south bank of the 
River Dotombori and limited by the Bridges Ebisu 
and Daikoku. 

3. Yagura-machi, situated between the south of 
the Bridge Ebisu and the Bridge Nippon. It is 
the most thriving place throughout the city. 

4. Namba-shinchi, the whole ground reaching 
from Shibaiura to the Namba railway station, con- 
sisting of six streets from Ichibancho (first street) 
to Roku-bancho (sixth). 

5. Sakamachi, located to the east of Namba- 
shinchi. 

Namba-shinchi, Yagura-machi, and Sakamachi 
were once ruined by the fire of 1912, but at present 
they are completely re-established. 

Horie, another quarter of geisha girls, has lately 
made a great development and produced a number 
of good girls. 

The two greatest and most renowned geisha- 
houses in Osaka are Tondaya and Yamatoya, both 
of which are situated in the Street So-emon-cho, 
one of the five gay streets of the south quarter. 
Each of these houses employs over one hundred 
girls, and it is said that there is no great party 
given by a firm or a bank in Osaka in which geisha 
of Tondaya or Yamatoya are not found among the 
girls waiting upon the guests. Every evening, no 
matter whether it is rainy or stormy, the sound of 
samisen and drums can be heard from the rooms 
of these two houses, and there is not even one 
night in which none of their girls is engaged to 
restaurants. How horrible is the influence of the 
girls of these houses and how wonderful their 
prosperity ! 

Both Tondaya and Yamatoya have their build- 
ings for guests and houses for girls ; the former 
are to receive the customers who wish to drink and 

146 



GIRLS IN CITIES AND TOWNS 

hire girls, and the latter used as the residence of 
girls who are to stay here while they are not en- 
gaged, and to dress themselves in preparation tor 
attendance on their patrons in evening. 

One of the causes by which Tondaya became 
famous as one of the best girl-houses was appear- 
ance of Yachiyo, a young and beautiful girl in 
the house. We are told that the hostess of Ton- 
daya spent more than ten thousand yen in order 
to make up her to be an accomplished dancing girl 
at her age of fifteen. All the girls of the house 
are not only beautiful in their figure and com- 
plexion, but also very graceful in their action 
and behaviour. So they have been always hired to 
the parties held in Osaka and monopolised all the 
first-rate restaurants in the city. The hostess is 
boasting that Tondaya is not " The Tondaya of 
Osaka," but is " The Tondaya of Japan." 

Yamatoya, the rival against Tondaya, was not 
the first-rate public-house in the south till recently. 
Besides Tondaya, the largest houses were Itako, 
Katsuraya, Hiratatsu, Oda, and Maruya, in the 
So-emon-cho Street; Kinosho, Ishikawa, and Mat- 
sumoto, in the Kuro-emon-cho Street; and Kyo- 
masuya in the middle street. Consequently the 
so-called first-rate girls of the quarter were limited 
to those who belonged to one of these houses. 

Yamatoya, who wished to be enlisted in the 
class of those first-rate houses and to bring up its 
girls at the level with those of Tondaya or Itako 
as the first-rank belles, made efforts for attaining its 
ambition. One of the wise policies taken by Yama- 
toya for development of its business was reduction 
of the girl's fee, and thus tendency of guests for 
Yamatoya became gradually to be favourable. 

On the contrary, Tondaya is lately spoken of to 
be somewhat proud of its great fame and pros- 
perity, and even the girls themselves of the house 
are said to be stuck up by presuming on the name 

147 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GI 

of Tondaya. As the result of its bad rumour, 
greater part of its customers has lately run t< 
Yamatoya, Itako, and Katsuraya. 

Taking advantage of the occasion, Yamatoya 
encouraged its girls, young, able, accomplished, 
and far more beautiful than Yachiyo of Tondaya, 
to catch the guests to their own side, and it was 
wonderful to see that wind began to blow favour- 
able for Yamatoya, and that within a few yeai 
it stood aloft above all the hitherto so-called first- 
class houses, grasping much greater influent 
than Tondaya, its once formidable rival. 

Much surprised to see the great and sudden pi 
dominance of Yamatoya, Tondaya was compell< 
to defend itself against the new powerful enemy, 
repenting of its tall talk as " Tondaya of Japan. " 
An alliance under the name of " Arts Stimulating 
Association " was made among Tondaya and 
fellow girl-houses, with a view to threaten an< 
press down Yamatoya. 

The fierce competitions between the two greate 
girl-houses at the south quarter of Osaka may b< 
compared to the War of Roses, Tondaya beinj 
the red and Yamatoya the white rose Yachiyc 
Katsu, and Shig, generals in the red army, coi 
manding their younger officers, Hideya, Satoei, 
Hitokoto, Koichi, Hideyu, Komako, Hideryu, 
Mame-yakko, Matsuchiyo, and so on Tama an< 
Tomo, the leaders of the white, encouraging 
achieve great exploits of their younger warrion 
Kotake, Hamayu, Kotoku, Shimeko, Tsurul 
Tombo, Koshime', Tamaju, Emika, and so on. 

Miyozuru, Kosome, and Koyachiyo are the 
super-eminent dancing girls in the red, and Itoha 
and Mitsuha those in the white party. Still more 
there are " Thirteen Daughters " who form a body 
of nice young girls from thirteen to fifteen years 
old, and are esteemed as the jewels of the latter 
party; they are so well trained in all arts of 

148 



GIRLS IN CITIES AND TOWNS 

mcing, singing, and playing on musical instru- 
lents that even the older girls of the opposite party 
could not help to admire their good accomplish- 
ments. 



E. Kobe 

Kobe is the greatest port in the western part of 
Japan, and as it is in about equal dimension to 
Kyoto or Nagoya, there should have been the 
beauties in the number equal to those in each of the 
two cities, but we are sad to say that Kobe is much 
inferior to them on this point at present. 

It is a new city established and developed within 
only fifty years, at first having been a seaside 
quarter like a settlement into which people gathered 
from all directions. Men and women who flocked 
together into the narrow belt of land bordered by 
the hills on one side and by the sea water on the 
other were all outcasts or vagrants defeated in the 
struggle for existence in their native provinces and 
compelled to find any means of living at a certain 
unknown district. 

The wanderers, who had settled themselves at 
this hopeful new port, began to work desperately to 
earn money, and struggled one another mentally 
and physically to attain his or her first and greatest 
success. Taking no care of their bad constitution 
and ugly countenance, it is natural that they could 
not produce beauties among their descendants. 

Kobe is not the origin of beauties, but its degree 
of wealth is much higher than that of Nagoya or 
Kyoto. The higher is the degree of wealth and 
civilisation at any quarter of a country, the more 
beauties are imported into it from all directions. 
Kyoto was once the capital of Japan where the 
wealth and civilisation of the country were concen- 
trated, and the beauties who had poured into the 

149 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

city from all provinces were the element of excel- 
lent productions of new beauties in succeeding 
ages; no doubt the improvement of females was 
carried out in the old capital by concentration of 
local beauties. 

Now we find in Kobe a great number of nice 
girls brought from various cities and towns. Sing- 
ing and dancing girls belonging to the Central and 
the New Central Guilds, which are called to be the 
representatives of the Kobe beauties, amount to 
over three hundred at present, and nine-tenths of 
them are immigrants from Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, 
Nagoya, and other towns. 

The two great circles of beauties of Kobe are 
one gathered in the Streets Hanaguma and Moto- 
machi to the east, and the other living in the 
quarter Fukuwara to the west; again, one line from 
Ikuta passage to Nunobiki to the east, one line 
from Minato Street of Hyogo, the suburb of the 
city, to Yanagiwara to the west, and one line 
running through the bluff to the east from Oku- 
hirano to the north are all the regions of beauties, 
the greater part of them consisting of those im- 
ported from other cities. 

To classify the beauties of Kobe according to 
their state of distribution above mentioned, the 
girls who form the Central and the New Central 
Guilds in the Streets Hanaguma and Motomachi 
are called the Hanaguma circle, those in Fukuwara 
the Fukuwara circle, those in the Streets San- 
nomiya, Ikuta, Ninomiya the Sannomiya circle, 
those distributed in Yanagiwara and vicinity the 
Hyogo circle, and those on the whole bluff the 
Bluff circle, the five circles existing in the whole 
city and suburb in all. 

Though the three hundred girls of the Central 
and New Central Guilds are noted as the represen- 
tatives of the Kobe beauties, and certainly they are 
comparatively nice in their complexion, yet we may 

150 



GIRLS IN CITIES AND TOWNS 

say that the number of the very beauties are found 
to be more in the Fukuwara circle than in them; 
and, moreover, some of the girls on the bluff and in 
a part of Hyogo may be far more beautiful in face 
and much better in style than the best ones of them. 

The girls who represent the Hanaguma circle at 
present are Mitsukoma, Umeko, Karako, and 
Kinya; Mitsukoma is admired among the gentle- 
men of Kobe as the queen of Kobe beauties her 
long, thick, black hair and oval face, with the high 
nose and the vivid eyes, remind us of the belles 
drawn by Utamaro, one of the great artists in the 
Tokugawa age. 

There are five hundred girls in the Fukuwara 
circle, and the beauties of the first rank among 
them are Fukudama, Shinkoma, Komagiku, 
Kimiei, and Hanayakko. The first two, Fuku- 
dama and Shinkoma, are the representatives of 
beauties in two different types, just opposite to 
each other : the former has a rather slender face of 
regular outline, and with the nose of a sharp bridge, 
the little forehead, and the charming eyes; the 
latter is fat and round, with the lovely mouth and 
eyebrows, which add the air of fascination to her. 
It is a remarkable fact that in this quarter of Kobe 
we find a number of girls who were once very 
celebrated among the gay circles of Tokyo. 

The quarter of the city surrounding Sannomiya 
is the cradle of the European civilisation in Kobe, 
and over one hundred girls belonging to the San- 
nomiya circle, which is situated at a spot between 
the Sannomiya Shrine and the Ikuta Shrine, are 
far more cosmopolitan than those in Hanaguma 
or Fukuwara. They understand manners and 
customs of the Europeans, and are well experienced 
in treatment of them by their skilful diplomatic 
ability. They are generally dressed very heavy 
and gaudy, in accordance with the taste of for- 
eigners, in an entirely different way from the girls 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

who dress themselves simple and elegant to attend 
upon the Japanese customers. 

Though the number of girls in the Sannomiya 
circle is small, yet there we find relatively many 
beauties comparing to those in the Fukuwara 
quarter. Sadayu and Ko-yokko are the first class 
and most popular singing girls, and Yakko is a 
young and hopeful dancing girl; Takeyakko is a 
tall and charming girl, and her mouth, whose 
lower lip projects to receive the upper, is full 
of amiability; and among other graceful girls, 
Kikuyu, Fumiko, Yonehachi, and Kinta, we can 
point out Riki-yakko as a beauty of fine physique 
her thick black hair and white roundish face are 
in good proportion to her healthy body in best 
development, her vivid eyes having a magic power 
to fascinate the males. 

As the bluffs in all cities are generally resided 
by higher gentlemen, rich merchants, and Govern- 
ment officials, so is a line of hillside of Kobe, 
consisting of the Streets Ishii, Hirano, Yamamoto- 
dori, Yamate-dori, and Kumochi. The daily life 
of people living in these higher quarters is much 
different from that of those in the mercantile streets 
in the lower part of the city, and it is natural that 
there is a great difference in the style of dressing 
and everything between the girls in these opposite 
positions. 

In the Yamate and Yamamoto Streets of the 
bluff, connected with the quarter of the Sanno- 
miya circle, there is a body of girls adorned them- 
selves in the so-called dignified bluff style. They 
are active in character, and can speak English, 
French, or German, though it is broken and vulgar 
in general. Most of the customers for them are 
foreigners living in the settlement or on a visit to 
Japan. If we visit Nunobiki, the famous large 
waterfalls hanging down on the hillside of the same 
name situated to the north-east of the port, we 

152 




A COPY OF A PICTURE 
DRAWN BY TOYOKUNI. 



A COPY OF A PICTURE 
DRAWN BY UTAMARO. 



GIRLS IN CITIES AND TOWNS 

often find young beautiful Japanese ladies accom- 
panied by European gentlemen. A number of 
these girls live in houses built in very neat and 
fashionable form, dotting the landscape full of 
green trees, extending at the foot of the mount. 

Hyogo was once made the capital of Japan under 
the name of Fukuwara by Kiyomori, the head of 
Taira military clan, in June, A.D. 1180, but though 
it was given up soon and Kyoto was restored to its 
old rank in October of the same year, yet a great 
number of beauties of the old capital was immi- 
grated into the district by the tyrant during his 
temporary residence. We may ascribe the pro- 
duction of nice girls in this quarter at present to 
the transplantation and cultivation of beauty's 
seeds seven hundred years ago. 

The Yanagiwara gay quarter belonging to the 
Hyogo circle comprises a number of great beauties 
Narayone, Fukumusume, Narako, Rikimaru, 
Niryo, and Hisako are well known among men of 
the world in the Kobe port. 



F. Miscellaneous Quarters 

Besides the chief cities of the country above men- 
tioned, the larger cities where the famous gay 
circles are in prosperity are Sendai, Okayama, 
Hiroshima, Shizuoka, Hakata, and Nagasaki; the 
last one, Nagasaki, is the port first opened for 
foreign trade by the Tokugawa Government, and 
we are often told that Maruyama and Inasa, the 
two flourishing gay quarters of the harbour, were 
the stages of love-affairs between the Japanese 
girls and the young foreigners. 

Now let us have a further look into the special 
manners of girls in some local towns or pleasure 
resorts. 

In Japan mineral hot springs can be found almost 

153 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

everywhere throughout the country, and in all 
these spas young nice girls of a special profession 
live in the spring hotels, restaurants, or their own 
houses standing- around the spring. They are a 
kind of singing and dancing girls. 

Near Kyoto the famous hot bath resorts are 
Arashiyama, Kasagi, Uji, and Yawata. Kasagi 
is a very celebrated one from ancient times; the 
bottom of rocks along its north bank is washed by 
the pure water of the River Kizu running from 
east to west, and to the south it is protected by 
Mount Kasagi, noted for the remains of the tem- 
porary palace of Emperor Godaigo in the dark 
age (A.D. 1331). We find more than thirty girls 
living in the larger restaurants, such as Kasagi-tei 
and Matsukawa-ro, as well as in the bath-hotels 
those who live in restaurants are called by the 
general name of geisha, but the others in bath- 
hotels take a different denomination, yuna, which 
means " bath-girls," though they wait upon the 
guests, play on samisen, and sing the songs just 
as equal as the geisha do. Most of them are the 
natives of Osaka and Kyoto. 

Uji is a pretty town, to the north of which the 
River Uji is purling, and the spot of the spring 
is at the foot of Mount Asahi, towering high above 
the upper waters of the river. In the town there 
live over twenty singing and dancing girls who can 
be engaged to any of the bath-hotels or the res- 
taurants. As they have no guild their fee is not 
fixed. Most of them are the Kyoto girls refined 
up with the clean water of the River Kamo, which 
runs through the old capital. 

Uji and its vicinity is the quarter famous for the 
production of tea-leaves, and if we visit it at the 
season of tea-picking we will be much pleased to 
listen to the interesting popular songs sung by tea- 
pickers, who are generally young maidens painted 
beautifully and dressed neatly, their head being 

154 



GIRLS IN CITIES AND TOWNS 

covered with a white Japanese towel. These tea- 
pickers' songs are always popular among the Uji 
geisha, whose shrill voice singing these songs 
accompanied by high tone of samisen can be heard 
late in night from hotels and saloons standing on 
the high banks of the river. 

The first and largest hot bath place near Osaka 
is Arima, travellers being conveyed by motor-cars 
from the Mita railway station to the resort. There 
are two large buildings in which bathrooms are 
arranged one is called the higher bath-hall, and 
the other the common one. The former is situated 
near the Bridge Taiko, and the latter at the centre 
of the town the former is divided into six bath- 
rooms, each of which can be occupied by an in- 
dividual or a family, while the latter is provided 
with one large broad bath-place. 

Around the halls there are a great number of 
hotels in good hospitality and perfect accommoda- 
tion to bath-takers, and all these hotels employ 
yuna (bath-girls), who accompany their customers 
to the halls and take care of them on their dresses, 
footgears, and everything. 

To break the monotonous life and try the local 
taste of merriment in the bath-resort, we can hire 
the geisha girls, who spin the webs to catch the 
bathers. Some of them live in the streets of 
Arima itself, but the greater part of them are found 
in Mita, a stage town near the station of the same 
name. We will be much pleased to see the Arima 
dance which is performed by these girls with accom- 
paniment of peculiar songs. 

As the Arima Spa is located on a tableland, 
autumn cool comes earlier, and towards the middle 
of October wood trees are decorated with the russet 
leaves soon. If we get out of bed early morning 
and open the windows wide, we can find the top 
of Mount Arima-Fuji and the woods and houses 
at its foot all enveloped in the morning mist; and 

155 



THE STORY OF THE GEISHA GIRL 

on the stream of the River Arima, which is noisily 
flowing over the rocks from the direction of the 
waterfall called the Drum Fall, the steam of the 
hot spring is faintly rising. In the narrow street 
some young girls dressed in a bath gown and with 
a towel in one hand are seen going for the bath- 
hall, followed by their guests. 

In the town Mita there are over fifty girls who 
organise a guild named the Mita-ken, and the 
famous Mita Dance performed by them can be seen 
on the festival days of the tutelary god of the city 
or during the Bon festival of each summer (the 
Bon is the feast in memory of the dead, celebrated 
for three days in July of the lunar calendar). 

Having surveyed the girls in hot spring quarters 
near Kyoto and Osaka, let us get on an airship and 
fly to Echigo, the north-eastern province of the 
country. 

We have already told that Echigo along the Sea 
of Japan is a district very noted for production of 
nice girls, and its people themselves are reasonably 
proud of their native beauties. If we visit Niigata, 
Nagaoka, Takata, Shibata, or any other cities in 
the province, the first things which the citizens 
show us are the geisha girls. 

Though there are so many circles of girls in these 
several towns in the province of Echigo, those in 
Shibata, which is the northern-most town, hold the 
pure Echigo colour. Here about seventy singing 
and dancing girls live in the streets, and the 
restaurants and waiting-houses into which they are 
engaged by guests amount to over thirty. Among 
these girls we can find many beautiful ones, very 
reasonable to be boasted by the Echigonians for 
their excellent production of beauties. 

The girl who is looked up to as the representative 
of the Shibata belles and widely known to other 
localities, is Yae of the Mihashiya girl-house, and 

156 



GIRLS IN CITIES AND TOWNS 

while she is the first in both countenance and 
accomplishments, the other two girls, Moto of 
Yamadaya and Ima of Shimizutei, are no inferiors 
to her in point of elegancy. 

Shibata is the paradise of geisha girls; they get 
up at ten or eleven every morning, after breakfast 
go to hairdressers, take bath on the way back, 
visit friends, and devour sweets, chattering and 
laughing, until it approaches the evening, the 
time for their profession these are the affairs of 
the whole day for them. 

They are natives of the district, and there can 
be found no girls who are imported from other 
provinces. Moreover, the customers who favour 
them are generally limited to the natives of the 
town or its vicinity, the patrons most beneficent 
among them and very free with their money being 
the rich farmers in the environs. 

The Shibata girls are drinkers in general. If 
we call a certain girl late in night, we will be often 
told that she cannot come under reason of her 
having drunk to excess in another house. We 
know not whether she has fallen down owing to 
much drinking or got in bed too early for the 
night professional by some other profitable cause ! 

As the natives of Echigo province are devoted 
in Buddhism, so are the young girls of Shibata 
and other towns too, and they are glad to submit 
everything to Buddha. A girl adheres to her 
patron, and never thinks of other lovers. If she 
is given up by him once, however, she never 
grieves at it, but reconciles herself by taking it to 
be the message of Buddha, and then seeks a new 
patron, to whom she would be very obedient and 
faithful again. It is the characteristics of the 
Echigo girls that they are not whimsical and never 
fall in love with men out of fickleness. 



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