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When In Japan, Do Not Scare the Geisha

More travel trouble, but this time the travelers are causing it.

It's hard to tell a Maiko from a Geisha without seeing their makeup.
It's hard to tell a Maiko from a Geisha without seeing their makeup.
An interesting piece from Japan Probe: apparently tourists-- mostly foreign tourists –are starting to become a problem for maiko (apprentice geisha) and the very rare full-fledged geisha who walk through the streets of Kyoto, which is in part known for being one of the few locations to find modern geisha. The specific act mentioned is tourists suddenly posing for photos with the geisha and maiko without so much as asking, apparently failing to remember that these are women trying to get to their jobs, not mascots at Disneyland.


On the other hand, it's not too surprising that tourists don't know very much about geisha and maiko, and Kyoto uses geisha in their tourist advertising, so it's understandable that these tourists would be pretty ignorant.


That said, if I remember correctly, geisha and maiko have been falling in significant demand for some time. Perhaps the best way to deal with the situation is for the city to come to some sort of agreement with the remaining geisha houses to allow tourists some kind of official access to the geisha for photos in a controlled environment. The downside, of course, being that I'm sure geisha themselves aren't interested in being reduced to a tourist attraction.


The site also notes that the BBC article doesn't specify that it was foreign tourists, although the Japanese article that they probably got their information from does-- oh, media.

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