Join us online for "Maiko Masquerade: Crafting Geisha Girlhood in Japan"

Melissa Dale's picture

The USF Center for Asia Pacific Studies welcomes Prof. Jan Bardsley (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill) for a discussion of Kyoto’s maiko (apprentice geisha) and the competing messages about girlhood in Japan revealed in the stories by and about her.

Book Talk: Maiko Masquerade: Crafting Geisha Girlhood in Japan

Thursday, September 23, 2021, 5:15 -6:30 PM PT, Online, Zoom

Jan Bardsley, Professor Emerita, Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Maiko Masquerade explores Japanese representations of the maiko, or apprentice geisha, in films, manga, and other popular media as an icon of exemplary girlhood. Jan Bardsley traces how the maiko, long stigmatized as a victim of sexual exploitation, emerges in the 2000s as the chaste keeper of Kyoto’s classical artistic traditions. Insider accounts by maiko and geisha, their leaders and fans, show pride in the training, challenges, and rewards maiko face. No longer viewed as a toy for men’s amusement, she serves as catalyst for women’s consumer fun. This change inspires serious stories and comic visions alike as ordinary girls–and even one boy–strive to embody the maiko ideal. This presentation traces the sense of masquerade threading through all these narratives, highlighting the questions raised about personal choice, gender performance, and the meanings of girlhood in 21st century Japan.

Jan Bardsley is Professor Emerita in the Department of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. A scholar of Japanese women’s studies, she investigates how women’s lives have been imagined, debated, legally defined, and publicly displayed in modern and contemporary Japan. Her books include Maiko Masquerade: Crafting Geisha Girlhood in Japan (University of California Press, 2021), Women and Democracy in Cold War Japan (SOAS Studies in Modern and Contemporary Japan, Bloomsbury, 2014), and The Bluestockings of Japan: New Women Fiction and Essays from Seitō, 1911-1916 (University of Michigan, Center for Japanese Studies, 2007), which won the 2011 Hiratsuka Raichō Award, Japan Women’s University. (

Free and open to the public. Registration required.

Community Partners: USF MA in Asia Pacific Studies (MAPS) program and USF Asian Studies program