The Culture of Geisha

The“Geisha”in modern Japan still evokes a mystical sense, as well as one of beauty, with their pale white face, dark eyes, dark hair and blood lips drawn in a bow. Today, even in Japan, very few authentic Geisha exist. However, their likeness can be seen on television, in movies and impersonated in entertainment areas. Both Japanese as well as non-Japanese have been fascinated with this mysterious and beautiful woman.

Geisha (in the Kyoto dialect known as Geiko) are professional female entertainers. They perform traditional Japanese arts at banquets as well as in teahouses. The Oka-San, or manager of the teahouse, is very protective of the Geisha, and does not allow them to perform until they are fully trained. In earlier times the Geisha were found throughout Japan, but now they are only in few cities such as the Gion area of Kyoto.

As an apprentice, the young ladies are called “Maiko”, and they learn the traditional Japanese arts, such as the tea ceremony, flower arranging, singing, dancing and playing instruments called “Shami-Sen”. In addition, the Maiko must learn social and conversational skills. In the end, only a very few ladies successfully become a “Maiko” to the Geisha.

When the “Maiko” reaches around the age of 20, there is a special ceremony called the “erigae”, making when the “Maiko” becomes a Geisha. After the ceremony, the young Geisha leaves the teahouse to take up residence in their own homes, and also change the way in which they wear their kimono and make-up.

Clothing: The Miako and Geisha wear a traditional silk kimono and wooden “geta” shoes. Their hair is worn in a high beautiful sculpted arrangement, and use various accessories to accent that. A red stripe is painted down the back of the Geisha’s neck, and it is said the more the neck that is exposed, the more risqué the kimono is. The Giesha mainly wear more subdued colors on their kimono, which has shorter sleeves. By cntrast, the Maiko’s kimono has brighter colors and longer draped sleeves. The kimono itself is tied with a thick and wide silk belt, which is known as an “obi”, which can be tied in several different and unique ways.

The future of the Geisha Today in Japan there are less than 1000 Geishas. Given the strict lifestyle as well as the emphasis on the traditional Japanese arts, very few young girls are able or willing to meet the standards of a professional Geisha.