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Friday, 16th September 2011
In General Japan News,

Japanese city launches geisha training scheme

A resort in Japan has launched a geisha employment training scheme in an effort to preserve the ancient art form and promote tourism.

The small hot spring resort of Shimoda in eastern Japan, which is located about 130 kilometres (80 miles) south-west of the capital Tokyo, has set aside 5.23 million yen (£43,000) using national subsidies for employment programmes to attract three women to train to become geisha.

The three prospective geisha will take part in a six-month geisha training project, during which they will become fully trained in traditional dancing, singing and playing instruments.

All trainees will receive a daily wage of around 6,200 yen (£51) and will be expected to work five days a week.

The government-funded initiative is aimed at reviving the geisha tradition, which has been in decline in recent years. There were as many as 200 geishas working in Shimoda just 30 years ago, but that number has dropped to just five today.

Geisha are the only people who have passed on local dance and song to successive generations, so the city hopes to preserve their unique and important status.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, a spokeswoman for Shimoda city government explained that the main reason for the decline in the number of geisha in the city can be attributed to the fact that social situations surrounding the traditional art of geisha culture have evolved.

"This is because there has been a decline in demand and also due to the social progress of women," she said.

"But the reason why it is important to help encourage more people to become geisha is because we think it's necessary for younger generations to inherit traditional entertainment."

The first geisha trainees will attend lessons held at a historic building known as the Sawamura residence, which dates back to the early part of the 20th century.

Posted by Susan Billion