The Fascinating Life of Japan’s Nine-Fingered Geisha

Teruha as a 14-year-old maiko called Chiyoha

The lives of geishas are wrapped in mystery. Here at EG, we’ve explored their world through incredible animated stereoviews and vintage postcards. Now, we take a more intimate look at one of the most celebrated, scandalous and enigmatic geishas of them all: Teruha. For reasons we will soon discover, Teruha is also known as “The Nine-Fingered Geisha.”

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Teruha poses in a chrysanthemum-decorated kimono.

In the golden age of the geisha, the Meiji period (September 1868 to July 1912), geishas were the equivalent of today’s celebrities, models and actresses. Desired by men and envied by women for their lifestyle and fashions, they captivated all levels of society, icons of both physical beauty and Japanese culture.

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