A Documentary by Peter MacIntosh

Region 1

Video PreviewReal Geisha Real Women is a documentary by Peter MacIntosh about the lives of several women in Kyoto, Japan of various generations who are, or have been maiko and geiko (the Kyoto terms for geisha).

Their stories are told in their own words as a series of vignettes without the use of a narrator. Rare footage of their journeys outside of Kyoto includes a hometown visit, a trip to Tokyo, as well as travels abroad.

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Sakai Kojiro
酒井 小次郎

Age 84. Born and raised in Kyoto’s Gion district. Fifth generation proprietor of “Ikuokaya” – a traditional hair ornament shop.


An 82 year-old geiko (Kyoto term for geisha) from Kyoto’s Miyagawa-cho district.


A former geiko and proprietress of the Harutomi ochaya (teahouse) in the Miyagawa-cho district of Kyoto.


A maiko in the Miyagawa-cho district of Kyoto.


A former maiko/geiko from the Miyagawa-cho district of Kyoto.

Horikiri Shuji

An Otokoshi (dresser) in Kyoto’s Miyagawa-cho.


A geiko in the Miyagawa-cho district of Kyoto.


A geiko from the Kamishichiken district of Kyoto.


A maiko from Kyoto’s Gion district.


A geiko and entrepreneur from Kyoto’s Gion district.


A former geiko from the Miyagawa-cho district of Kyoto.

A word from the director:

Although shooting took just over a year, getting to know the women in the film and earning their trust has taken most of my 15 plus years in Kyoto. It has taken a long time but now I finally feel I understand their world well enough that I can feel confident to make a film about the subject. There have been many books, documentaries and even movies made on this subject over the years, but I believe that this film alone offers a new perspective that only a long time member of a community can provide.

In my experiences as a male foreign customer, fellow practitioner of the arts, friend and husband of members of the flower and willow world, I have found myself looking for a medium in which to express the simple idea that before any of the preconceived ideas we might have, under the beautiful silken kimono and porcelain white make-up, the geisha are not mysterious creatures from a secret world but are ordinary, real women.

Hear their stories from the real geisha themselves and not through anthropologists or major network television crews that have only spent limited time studying them as subjects of research or exposé.

Peter MacIntosh, Kyoto, Japan


Peter Macintosh has lived in Kyoto Japan among the geisha community for more than 15 years. He has worked as a liasion and coordinator of Geisha or Japan related documentaries including productions for BBC, BNN, Swiss Television, National Geographic, A&E, and many more.

Real Geisha Real Women (2009)
Directed by Peter MacIntosh.
Director of Photography and Edited by John Wells


Title: Real Geisha Real Women
Running time: 52 min.
DVD price: $39.99 (plus $8.00 shipping and handling: total $47.99)