• Shona McCarthy

Hakata Kenban: Fukuoka Geisha

Updated: Mar 16

In my efforts to learn more about the regional Geisha of Japan, I found that Fukuoka have their own variety of Geisha! And so, I decided to see who they are and what they do. It seems that they are trained by an organization called "Hakata Kenban". And yes, that is the same Hakata (博多) as Hakata Gensuke, Hakata ramen, Hakata obi and so on. This is because they all originate from the same Hakata region of Fukuoka! So these Geisha are sometimes called "Hakata Maiko" or "Hakata Geigi" depending on their level of training. It seems that far from being a new concept, there have been Geisha in Fukuoka since the mid-Edo period, which will have been around the 1700s. Compared to other regional geisha, they are said to be more audacious and bold in their performance style than most Geisha in Japan.

The organization has their own official website. It is in Japanese, but since it is beautiful and contains a wealth of information on Hakata Geisha, it is worth a look via Google Translate.

Fukuoka Geisha seem to be fairly numerous, as seen in this video:

Perhaps this is because they are willing to take in most people as applicants to be geisha, train them, and even financially support them through the process. If it interests you, you can see their application website here. I thought about signing up, since it could be a way to get to work in Japan with beautiful kimono and learning traditional Japanese arts. But it seems like knowing how to speak Japanese is fundamental. So, it would probably pay to be focussed on that as a study first. Hiring Hakata Geisha costs around 28,000 yen each. It is typically recommended that when you book Geisha you should hire one to dance and another to play the shamisen, so that you can get the full experience. You would typically book through select restaurants capable of allowing geisha to perform. I would recommend selecting a geiko and a maiko so you can compare the two. But it is a matter of personal taste, and you can choose, since the Hakata Kenban website includes a page where you can see all of the current geisha business cards, and their photos if you hover over each one. This is the first time I've seen a geisha page which seems to be so well designed for receiving customers in such a way that they can know who all the geisha are before they book. Should you like to plan your visit to the Hakata region around geisha, you can easily do this, since they include a calendar of local events where Geisha will appear. However, Geisha are far from the only thing to see in Fukuoka! Especially since it's known as Japan's Ramen Capital!

In case you'd like to know more about a specific Fukuoka Geisha and her interesting life, here is an article I found online:

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