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Geiko Tsunemomo (Shigenoya) and Maiko Komako (Okatome)

Geisha with a white cat, 1905 by Blue_Ruin1 on Flickr

“Our house has a cat… and we always play with him before the ozashiki [party rooms] start… A lot of okiya [geisha houses] keep dogs or cats. Since we live together we become like a family, and I guess the pets become kind of like substitute children – it sometimes seems as if they are more important than the maiko [apprentices] and geiko [geisha]!”

From “A geisha’s journey: my life as a Kyoto apprentice” by Komomo, first published in 2008, page 70.