The conditions for inheriting the title of “Kawabata Geisha”: A case study of performing artists in Akita City and Yuzawa City in Akita, Japan
Yuko Tanioka (Graduate Researcher, Graduate School of Sociology, Kwansei Gakuin University)
Performing folk art has been cultivated among people in specific ages and communities, and the performance reflects the orientation of their life and aesthetics. There are also people who use performing folk art as a livelihood, such as “the name of city/Geisha.”
However, as with many of today’s performing folk arts and festivals, the Geisha community is confronted with a lack of successors to take over their “art,” which is based on local knowledge, expression, experience, and collective identity.
Additionally, people who emerge as candidates to inherit the art form do not train at the same time or in the same local communities as the older entertainers and so their context is not shared. What conditions are required in order to connect the contexts so that performers with different contexts are regarded as “authentic”?
This paper analyzes the people working as “Geishas” in Akita Prefecture from 2014 to 2018, who are expected to become “Kawabata Geishas” (the female performing artists who worked in Kawabata in Akita City, and are the most famous and prestigious Geisha in Akita Prefecture.)
The author describes the variations of context for inheriting the title of “Kawabata Geisha,” and the contextual conflict between Kawabata Geisha and people who expected to succeed to this culture.
geisha, authenticity, inheritance of traditional culture