The geisha tradition lives on with a touch of modernity in Kanazawa, the historic castle town on the Sea of Japan coast in Ishikawa Prefecture, as an increasing number of young women are attracted to the beauty surrounding the ancient profession of female entertainers.
Momotaro, a geisha at the Nakanoya teahouse in Kanazawa, is one of the young women who have plunged into the world of geisha in recent years after graduating from school or quitting office jobs.
In Kanazawa, there are three major teahouse neighborhoods, Nishi, Higashi and Kazuemachi. The latter two districts have been designated by the government as special zones for preserving traditional buildings, the environment and scenery.
Teahouses provide a stage for the geisha. There are 28 teahouses in the three districts, whose history dates back to the first half of the 19th century.
In 1984, a year after the female teahouse managers in the districts organized a local teahouse association, there were 80 geisha, but the number continued to decline thereafter, falling to a low of 42 in 2000.
The number has now recovered to 50 thanks to various local initiatives and public subsidies.