Kyoto's hidden world of geisha no longer a male bastion
News On Japan via Asahi -- Jul 19
For a first-time foreign visitor to Kyoto, perhaps there is nothing so tantalizing as catching a glimpse of dainty "maiko," or apprentice geisha, as dusk descends on this historic city.
And then there are "geiko," as geisha from western Japan are known. Like maiko, these veterans of the "flower and willow word" ply their skills in the "hanamachi," or flower towns, of which the Gion district is by far the best known.
It is customary for high-class inns and teahouses where geisha entertain to turn away first-time visitors, known as "ichigensan," who have no formal introduction from a regular patron.
As most people know, it is only well-heeled men--and even then an exclusive group at that--who frequent "ozashiki asobi" establishments to be pampered in an art that dates to the early Edo Period (1603-1868).
To most Japanese, this is an elite world where kimono-clad women with white makeup, red lipstick and elaborate hairdos charm patrons with skills learned over many years.
The number of people who committed suicide in Japan in 2012 was 27,858, dropping below 30,000 for the first time in 15 years, the Cabinet Office said in a white paper on Tuesday. The figure was 2,800 fewer than in 2011. (Japan Today )
A collection of materials related to a 17th century mission sent by a Japanese feudal lord to Europe and the world's oldest autographic diary left 10 centuries ago by a Japanese regent have been selected for the UNESCO Memory of the World registry, the Japanese education ministry said Wednesday. (Global Post )
Almost 1,500 people were transported to hospitals by ambulance due to heatstroke last week, up sharply from 942 in the preceding week, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said Tuesday. (Japan Times )
Among about 200,000 traffic signals nationwide, 16 percent are being used beyond the end of the expected lifetime of their electrical systems and some have even toppled over due to age, according to the National Police Agency. (Yomiuri )
In May, Akira Ikoma, the editor of a guide to men's entertainment called Ore no Tabi (My Journey), said that "Abenomics" had caused a spike in prices at high-end soapland bathhouses in Tokyo. However, the same editor tells Shukan Post (June 28) that the initiative is not impacting the low-end market in the same way. (Tokyo Reporter )