Sayuki says her fee starts at $350 for an engagement. Much of her income goes to buy the expensive, hand woven kimonos. Some cost as much as $13,500.

While in Tokyo, Lisa followed Sayuki to one of her paid engagements. "It's a kind of private entertainment of the kind that might have happened in the days of Bach or Mozart, who would be called out by nobility to entertain," Sayuki says.

Watch a typical night for Sayuki.  Watch

During a banquet, Sayuki says she greets customers and talks to them throughout the night. "At some point during the banquet, we get up and entertain, and the younger geisha usually are dancers," she says. "Some of the geisha are musicians. They play the three-string lute, or like myself, they play the flute or they sing."

Sayuki says men and women now attend banquets to experience the hospitality of geisha. "I think the geisha is the Japanese ideal of the perfect woman in many ways, and it's a kind of makeup and kimono," she says. "It's been perfected over 400 years, and it is breathtakingly beautiful to see a geisha in full regalia for the first time."


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