With her mix of artifice, artistic discipline and sexual promise, no traditional figure is more ambiguous than the geisha.

Artist, musician and performer Hanayo has invoked the same sort of ambiguity since she first came to public prominence in the early ’90s. As a working geisha who contradicted her shamisen lessons with stints in noise bands and contrasted her kimono with a tattoo, Hanayo became the face of Tokyo’s hyper-mix of tradition and pop (in fact, the British style magazine The Face once made her its cover girl).

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