Kouta performance at the Tokyo Shoken Building, Kayaba-cho, Tokyo, on October 18, 2014

(Voice: Yuko Eguchi [Kasuga Toyo Yoshiyu], Shamisen: Kasuga Toyo Seiyoshi and Kasuga Toyo Yoshihisa)

Kasuga Toyo Seiyoshi


    I have studied kouta under Kasuga Toyo Seiyoshi, who was a formerly active geisha from the downtown district of Asakusa in Tokyo. Kouta songs are normally accompanied by a shamisen (a three-stringed long neck lute). I learned both singing and playing the shamisen from her. The most important aspect of performing kouta is the expression of iroke (roughly translated as sensuality or eroticism). The aesthetics of kouta are deeply molded and shaped by the concept of iroke. My dissertation explores more on this peculiar concept in hopes of unraveling the mystique of geisha’s sexuality and identity and the meaning of  their arts.

Kiyomoto O-Yo from Ongyoku Gamei-shu

    Kouta is a short song form, usually including one or two verses written in a typical Japanese poetic structure of 5-7-7 syllables. In 1856, the very first kouta song was composed by O-Yo, a daughter Kiyomoto Saibei II, headmaster of a kiyomoto (kabuki music) school. This is one of the musical genres that has thrived and continues to be performed by geisha in both private ozashiki (a banquet ) and public concert settings.

    In March 2012, I received my kouta name:

Kasuga Toyo Yoshiyu


certified by Kasuga Toyo Eishiba, current head of the Kasuga School.