( dpa )- Visitors to Japan sometimes fall head over heels in love with the culture and decide to make their lives there.
Such a one is Australian academic Fiona Graham and her fascination is so profound that she trained for a year and is now a fully-fledged geisha.
To become a top-drawer consort of rich Japanese men, Graham learned the niceties of tea ceremonies, traditional dancing and how to make conversation with her clients.
"Even though I've been in Japan a long time and have a good grasp of the culture, this has been very difficult," Melbourne-born Graham told London's Telegraph newspaper.
"Throughout my training, I never got any extra help or breaks because I'm a foreigner," she said. "In fact I was probably pulled up more frequently because my teachers or senior geisha forgot that I'm not word-perfect in Japanese."
Graham, who arrived in Japan as a 15-year-old and was the first foreign woman ever to be admitted to Tokyo's venerable Keio University, has an anthropology degree as well as an MBA from Britain's Oxford University.
"I don't expect to be a geisha all of my life, but I haven't set any end-point," she said. Graham - Sayuki is her geisha name - is probably the only foreigner to be inducted into the geisha world.
Her interest in the 400-year-old institution is mostly academic.
"I'm a social anthropologist, so this is what we do," she said. "Our research method is participant-observation."