Enchanting Beauty Of Tokyo 100 Years Ago
 Memories of a geisha: Stunning images reveal the delicate beauty of the woman who enchanted Tokyo 100 years ago

The beauty of one of Tokyo's most popular geisha has been preserved in a series of stunning postcards taken more than a century ago. The collection of images shows Hawaryu, who worked in the Japanese capital at the beginning of the 20th century, posing in a variety of elaborate kimono with her hair pinned in traditional style. Her porcelain skin and doll-like features have captured the imagination of internet users who have shared the pictures hundreds of times since they were posted.

They were unearthed by an American photographer who lives and works in Japan and posted on his Flickr account under the name Okinawa Soba. He said the selection were taken in 1910, only a few years before the number of geisha working in the country reached its peak.

It is not known how old Hawaryu is in the series of pictures but her hairstyle suggests she was an apprentice geisha - or maiko - and therefore was probably under 20 years old.
Geisha as a profession emerged in the 18th century and rather than courtesans, women would entertain act as hostesses and entertain male guests with their demure conversation and graceful dance and music skills.
The pictures were taken in 1910 by an unknown photographer who retouched her hairline and eyebrows Geisha would entertain male customers with their musical and dance skill.

Not much is known about Harwaryu other than the pictures she left behind.
If her marriage was delayed or did not take place then she may have continued working as a geisha for years. More is known about the photographers, whose initials were left on the images.
One photographer is believed to be Shisui Naruse and the other is thought to be Yoto Tsukamoto.
Okinawa Soba said of the Naruse: 'He obviously considered his portraits to be artistic works, and proudly put his intertwined S N monogram right on the negative.'
The images were printed on mass using the collotype process and the coloured detail would have been hand-painted afterwards. In some of the images crosshatching can also be seen on the hairline and eyebrows, which was done by the photographer.

The initials of the two photographers are visible on the images and both asked Hawaryu to pose with flowers

The dramatic black and white images differ in style from the bright and colourful images that were popular at the time

The images were mass printed and colour would hand-painted afterwards

Harwaryu may have continued working as a geisha for years after the pictures were taken if she delayed or chose not to get married

The style was original to the Meiji era (1868-1912), in which the pictures were taken.
Traditional geisha begin training at a very young age and when the art form first emerged many children were sold into the profession, although that practice eventually died out.
A fully-qualified geisha must complete three stages of training: Shikomi, Minarai and Maiko.
The training period differs on the region of Japan but once completed the woman remains as a geisha until she retires. By the 1920s there were more than 80,000 practising geisha in Japan but the numbers fell dramatically during and after the Second World War. There are currently only about 2,000 women working as traditional geisha in Japan.