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Oz girl training to become first white geisha

London, Thu, 15 Mar 2012 ANI

London, Mar 15 (ANI): An Australian girl is the first Westerner in the 400-year-history of Japanese culture to be accepted as a fully-fledged geisha.


Fiona Graham entered the unusual line of work after discovering the world of beautifully made-up traditional tea servers through academic studies.


Working in the documentary film gave her the opportunity to delve further into the largely hidden world - as immortalised in 'Memoirs of a Geisha'.


She maintains that, as a Caucasian, she had to work harder to be accepted into the notoriously tight geisha world.


"Being white is absolutely no advantage whatsoever in the geisha community," the Daily mail quoted her as telling BBC.


"Customers looking for geisha are not looking to find white geisha. So I had a very much more difficult time than the average geisha," she said.


In 2007, on her debut, she was given her geisha name Sayuki, which means "transparent happiness".


Graham lives in Asakusa, Tokyo's oldest geisha district and won't reveal her age because geisha's hierarchy comes from their position in the household not when they were born.


Far from being mute female decoration, as is often depicted in Western television and books, geisha always have been strong, independent businesswomen.


So it's no surprise that Graham has now turned her love of geisha into a venture with the Japanese tourist board.


The first westerner to attempt to enter the hallowed, hugely closeted world of traditional Japanese female entertainers was Liza Dalby, an American scholar in the Seventies, but she never completed her training.


Geisha are Japanese female entertainers who perform specific ceremonial duties, such as serving drinks in a tea ceremony, talking to their clients, dancing, singing and playing instruments such as the three-stringed shamisen or the bamboo flute.


Geisha have to learn how to sit for hours in the seiza position - with their legs tucked painfully under their bottoms.


The beautiful kimono gowns they wear for ceremonial occasions can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.


Rather than being seen as escorts, they are strictly entertainers. The profession started in the 17th century to act as cultured, educated female company. (ANI)


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