Tatsumi Geisha (professional female entertainers) (辰巳芸者)

Tatsumi Geisha refers to professional female entertainers, who were particularly popular in Fukagawa in Edo (present-day Fukagawa, Tokyo) around the Edo period.

Since Fukagawa is located in the direction of Tatsumi (southeast), they are called 'Tatsumi Geisha,' and also 'Haori Geisha' because they are characterized by their wearing of Haori (a Japanese half coat).

Their selling points were 'enthusiasm' and 'pride.'
They were praised as a symbol of 'the spirit of Edo' while Maiko (apprentice geisha) and Geigi (geisha) as 'the flower of Kyoto.'

Spirit of 'Haori Geisha'

In the Meireki era, Fukagawa flourished as a commercial harbor mainly for the distribution of lumber, having a massive red-light district. Geisha (both male and female) were in great demand for a gathering of merchants or entertaining business contracts, so naturally, such Geisha who had run away from their hometown settled in Fukagawa. Tatsumi Geisha originated from a popular Geisha in Nihonbashi (present-day Chuo Ward, Tokyo) named 'Kikuya,' who moved to Fukagawa because she had trouble in Nihonbashi. Most of the regular customers of Tatsumi Geisha were heartful and fashionable artisans who were typical in Fukagawa, so their tastes affected the style and manner of Tatsumi Geisha.

Tatsumi Geisha preferred light makeup, dressed in plain grayish color with bare feet without wearing tabi (split-toe socks) even in winter; they tossed on Haori which was for men at that time and entertained guests with mannish speaking. The good-natured and heartful Tatsumi Geisha, who were proud of selling not their bodies but their skills, were immensely popular as a symbol of the spirit of Edo.
They also took the mannish professional names such as 'Otokichi,' 'Tsutakichi,' or 'Mameyakko,' instead of feminine names such as 'Ukifune' or 'Aoi.'
This is also for the purpose of throwing the shogunate's investigators off the scent of Fukagawa red-light district by disguising as male Geisha. Even now, many Geisha in Tokyo take the 'yakko- names' mentioned above.

Related works

Tatsumi Geisha, who were the example of the spirit of Edo, often appear in works describing Edo.

Meigetsu Hachiman Matsuri (The Autumn Hachiman Festival)
Kabuki play
First staged at the Kabukiza in August, 1918. Written by Daigo IKEDA. A Tatsumi Geisha named Miyokichi is the leading part of this play.

Gokenin Zankuro
Period novel. Written by Renzaburo SHIBATA. A Tatsumi Geisha named Otsuta appears as a favorite geisha of Zankuro MATSUDAIRA, a low-level retainer of the Tokugawa shogunate.

Adapted as a TV period drama. Adapted for the movies. This TV series came on TV from 1995 - 2002. This series, in which Ken WATANABE played the role of Zankuro with Mayumi WAKAMURA as Otsuta, now Tsutakichi, achieved wide popularity.

[Original Japanese]