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The Apprentice: Memoirs of a Chinese geisha wannabe in Japan

Reuters

Chinese geisha trainee Rinka, born as Zhang Xue in Shenyang, China, puts on makeup at a geisha school in the port town of Shimoda, Japan on Aug. 3, 2012.

Reuters - It takes Rinka at least two hours to apply her thick white makeup and get dressed in an elaborate kimono on formal occasions, as is typical of most trainee geisha.

But 29-year-old Rinka is different. She is a Chinese national hoping to take her place among the ranks of Japan's ancient but fading profession of female entertainers known for their beauty, skill at traditional arts and witty conversation.

Born in Shenyang, China, she grew up as Zhang Xue before moving to Japan at the age of 14, one of only a handful of foreigners to try to join the geisha ranks. Read More

Reuters

Chinese geisha trainee Rinka affixes a wig as her 72-year-old geisha matron Kanoya assists her in the port town of Shimoda, Japan on Aug. 3.

Reuters

Chinese geisha trainee Rinka lights candles before a summer festival near her geisha school building in the port town of Shimoda, Japan on Aug. 3.

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