A foundation in Kyoto said Friday it will start subsidizing business cards for local geisha in an effort to promote the culture of female entertainers in the ancient capital.
The Ookini Foundation said from the new fiscal year starting April 1 it will pay up to ¥20,000 for a maximum 2,000 cards for geisha or maiko (apprentice geisha) who apply.
It said it will deliver the business cards to them directly, rather than provide the cash.
Business cards used by the kimono-clad traditional entertainers are known as senjafuda.
Coming in various colors and designs, the paper cards are shaped in a tiny rectangle bearing each geisha’s name, and are handed to customers who can also peel away one side and use them as stickers.
Geisha and maiko have traditionally given the cards to customers who pay to watch them perform in arts such as dancing, singing and playing musical instruments.
But in recent years, the cards have also been given to the general public during events to promote tourism.
“I want them to freely give away their cards, without worrying about whether they will run out,” an official at the foundation said.