JAPAN: Reprisal

By the most honored rule of her profession, a geisha must never kiss and tell.

Playful Japanese husbands tend to find this coy secrecy infinitely charming, but hardhearted Japanese tax collectors are less pleased by it: Suspecting, that many a plump income lurks behind the kimonoed coquetry of their nation's 29,065 licensed geishas, the taxmen have evolved a system whereby a geisha's income is estimated on the basis of the time she spends at work. Those suspected of earning more than $500 a year are taxed as high as 33⅓%.

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