Saturday, October 06, 2007

Japan's oldest geisha marks her 99th birthday

Kokin Nee-san, Japan's oldest active geisha, in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture. (Mainichi)
Kokin Nee-san, Japan's oldest active geisha, in Atami, Shizuoka Prefecture. (Mainichi)

ATAMI, Shizuoka -- Japan's oldest active geisha, Kokin Nee-san, celebrated her 99th birthday here Friday.

Kokin has been a geisha for more than 80 years. She still practices playing the samisen and singing kouta songs at least once a week even now, keeping her ahead of the country's 2,800 younger geisha.

"I've gotta do my best for the customers," she says, adding that she hopes to be able to give a performance on her 100th birthday next year.

Kokin was born in 1909, then served as an apprentice geisha in Kofu after graduating from elementary school. Kokin celebrated her 99th birthday this week because of the old practice of counting ages as starting from 1 at birth.

She moved to Tokyo following the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and performed at places like the Akasaka entertainment district.

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