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Last Updated: Monday, 21 February 2005, 15:59 GMT
Yukina: Japan
There are only 20 maikos in Yukina's district of Kyoto

At the age of 15, a Japanese girl is allowed by law to become a "maiko" or apprentice geisha.

Yukina has dreamed of becoming a geisha since she was a little girl, despite the disapproval of friends and family.

Initially dismayed by her career choice, the geisha world for them is one of mystery and controversy.

But Yukina has already left her family to live in a house in Kyoto where the Okasan or geisha "mother" is her new guardian.

Soon she will have to prove whether she is good enough to make it as a maiko by going before the geisha council of Kyoto.

If successful, she will live in a geisha house for at least five years, where she will have daily classes in singing, dancing, traditional language, tea ceremonies and all the skills expected of a geisha.

But how will she cope with homesickness? Has she made the right choice?

Filmed in Kyoto, famous throughout Japan for its geishas, this visually stunning story reveals what Yukina will have to sacrifice in order to join the privileged but closed world of the geisha.

Coming of Age was broadcast in the UK on Tuesday, 22nd February, 2005 at 2100 GMT on BBC Two.

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