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GEISHA (article first published : 2003-06-11)

M-Net’s documentary Geisha to be screened on June 30 at 21h35 reveals the truth behind the Japanese modern Geisha - an elite group of female artists whose purpose is to be the perfect companions to men.

This documentary provides a rare access to this inner sanctum of the Japanese society. It gives an intimate exploration of the lives of two trainee geisha and their clients in Kyoto. The film also exposes the changes in sexual and cultural attitudes inside one of the most secretive environments in the world.

Although perceived by many as highly trained prostitutes, many Japanese people view geisha as a form of art to entertain. But this documentary reveals that in geisha’s culture “entertain” is a vague term. The clients must be extremely wealthy as Geisha cost a minimum of £300 an hour to hire.

The Geisha world enforces a strict code of privacy and silence and is inaccessible to the average Japanese man. And in a country in which women are becoming increasingly liberated, Geisha embody the submissiveness many married men no longer enjoy at home.

Centred on two apprentice Geisha or "Maiko", Satohina and Sonoe, the documentary is set in Kyoto, where the most accomplished and expensive Geisha live and work.

At 17, Satohina is a pretty and naïve trainee who came from the countryside ten months ago to pursue what she perceived as a glamorous career. The problem is, Satohina is naïve of the real motivation and desires of the wealthy men she entertains.

During the day she attends Geisha School where she perfects the arts of music and dance. She assumes it is what her clients are attracted to. Even though her clients are charged £300 per hour, she sees none of it as the money goes to the ‘mother ‘ of her Geisha house who keeps her and pays for her kimono and training.

On the other hand, Sonoe is more self-assured, having been a Maiko for four years. She is one of the most successful in Kyoto.




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