Sayuki Geisha, the First Western Geisha Quits

Coming to Japan at the age of 15 on a school exchange programme,  in 2007, Australian anthropologist Fiona Graham began a new career as “Sayuki the geisha“.
Graham, the Sayuki Geisha of Asakusa, formally debuted as a geisha in the Asakusa District of Tokyo, after completing the normal preparation of around one year. She claims to be the first western geisha in Japanese history. Graham is taking lessons in several arts, but her main art is yokobue (Japanese bamboo flute). Her achievement of geisha status was praised in the Western media. She was even featured on Oprah.
Now, only a few years later, her geisha career has come to an end. Graham has left the Asakusa Geisha Association – either because she quit or because she was kicked out. Graham apparently did not follow the rules of the Association. She thought her single year of training was enough, despite being told by her elders that she needed to continue taking lessons. The situation got so bad that they stopped considering her a geisha and requested that she quit.
Graham stated that the Asakusa Geisha Association had rejected her request to operate independently from December 2010 after the "mother" of her geisha house fell ill. She would however continue to operate as a geisha despite the refusal, possibly in a different geisha district.


  1. Sayuki is still working as a geisha in Tokyo. She was not allowed to have her own geisha house although Asakusa rules allow that after four years. Sayuki trained for a year before debuting and then spent nearly four years as a geisha.
    There are heaps of articles about Sayuki but I have only seen one that said she didn't follow rules. I can't imagine that any real geisha would talk to an English paper about another geisha. The lesson part of it doesn't seem true either. Sayuki said in one interview that her flute teacher had sent her to separate lessons so she could apply for the best music university in Japan.

  2. Easily, the article is really the freshest on this deserving topic.