GEISHA READING A NEWSPAPER -- or, Real Geisha are Not Air-Heads
The text is printed vertically, and the columns of text are read from RIGHT to LEFT.
These days, the Geisha of Kyoto and Tokyo, and their Bar Girl cousins working in every "Snack" and 'Lounge" Bar throughout the country, are pretty much recognized as the "Dumb Blond Brigade" of Japan...except that they are not Blond...and that the Geisha would take exception to being negatively compared (in matters of intelligence) with regular "Bar Girls".
These days, most of the Bar Girls are blond, but that's all fake, of course. And nobody here is saying that Blonds really are dumb, although.....
Anyway...in the good-old-days when the well-educated Geisha were a part of the fabric of Japanese life, and their integral functions were much more than the "Anachronistic Display", "Cos-play", or "Tourist Trap" fodder they are today (and nothing wrong with that at all), these Geisha of Old had to be truly talented, smart, well-read, and able to converse on a variety of topics with the well-to-do men who patronized their Eating and Drinking establishments. Quick-witted and coy, they also were able to make intelligent remarks on CURRENT EVENTS if they had to.
Here we see a REAL GEISHA reading a REAL NEWSPAPER in a pose that reflects their ability to read, write, think, and actually FORM OPINIONS.....unlike many of the modern versions I've run into. (I'm sure I'll be hearing from Liza Dalby on THAT statement....Ok, Liza, I said "Many", not "All").
Ca.1890s lantern-slide image published by George Washington Wilson from a ca. late-1880s photo that I attribute to WILLIAM BURTON based on presence of the photo in K. Ogawa's first half-tone book titled AYAME-SAN.