GEISHA (芸者) (/ˈɡeɪʃə/; Japanese: ), geiko (芸子), or geigi (芸妓) are traditional Japanese female entertainers who act as hostesses. Their skills include performing various arts such as classical music , dance, games, and conversation, traditionally to entertain male customers, but also female customers today.
* 1 Terms
* 2 History
* 2.1 Origins * 2.2 18th-century emergence of the geisha * 2.3 Rise of the geisha
* 3 Ranking * 4 Stages of training
* 5 Female dominance in geisha society
* 5.1 Relationships with male guests
* 6 Modern geisha
* 6.1 Non-Japanese geisha * 6.2 Public performances
* 7 Arts
* 9 Appearance
* 10 See also * 11 References * 12 Further reading * 13 External links
Typical nape make-up on a maiko (Note the red collar)
Apprentice geisha are called maiko (舞妓), literally "dance child", or hangyoku (半玉), "half-jewel" (meaning that they were paid half of the wage of a full geisha), or by the more generic term o-shaku (御酌), literally "one who pours (alcohol)". The white make-up and elaborate kimono and hair of a maiko is the popular image held of geisha. A woman entering the geisha community does not have to begin as a maiko, having the opportunity to begin her career as a full geisha. Either way, however, usually a year's training is involved before debuting either as a maiko or as a geisha. A woman above 21 is considered too old to be a maiko and becomes a full geisha upon her initiation into the geisha community.
On average, Tokyo apprentices (who typically begin at 18) are slightly older than their Kyoto counterparts (who usually start at 15). Historically, geisha often began the earliest stages of their training at a very young age, sometimes as early as at 3 or 5 years. The early shikomi (in-training) and minarai (learns by watching) stages of geisha training lasted years, which is significantly longer than in contemporary times.
It is still said that geisha inhabit a separate reality which they call the karyūkai or "the flower and willow world". Before they disappeared , the courtesans were the colourful "flowers" and the geisha the "willows " because of their subtlety, strength, and grace.
In the early stages of Japanese history, there were female entertainers: saburuko (serving girls) were mostly wandering girls whose families were displaced from struggles in the late 600s. Some of these saburuko girls sold sexual services, while others with a better education made a living by entertaining at high-class social gatherings. After the imperial court moved the capital to Heian-kyō (Kyoto) in 794 the conditions that would form geisha culture began to emerge, as it became the home of a beauty-obsessed elite . Skilled female performers, such as Shirabyōshi dancers, thrived.
Traditional Japan embraced sexual delights (it is not a
18TH-CENTURY EMERGENCE OF THE GEISHA
Ukiyoe depicting a Gion geisha, from between 1800 and 1833 Ukiyoe print by Yamaguchi Soken of a Kyoto geisha
These pleasure quarters quickly became glamorous entertainment centers, offering more than sex. The highly accomplished courtesans of these districts entertained their clients by dancing, singing, and playing music. Some were renowned poets and calligraphers . Gradually, they all became specialized and the new profession, purely of entertainment, arose. It was near the turn of the eighteenth century that the first entertainers of the pleasure quarters, called geisha, appeared. The first geishas were men, entertaining customers waiting to see the most popular and gifted courtesans (oiran ).
The forerunners of the female geisha were the teenage odoriko ("dancing girls"): expensively trained as chaste dancers -for-hire. In the 1680s, they were popular paid entertainers in the private homes of upper-class samurai, though many had turned to prostitution by the early 18th century. Those who were no longer teenagers (and could no longer style themselves odoriko ) adopted other names—one being "geisha", after the male entertainers. The first woman known to have called herself geisha was a Fukagawa prostitute, in about 1750. She was a skilled singer and shamisen player named Kikuya who was an immediate success, making female geisha extremely popular in 1750s Fukagawa. As they became more widespread throughout the 1760s and 1770s, many began working only as entertainers (rather than prostitutes), often in the same establishments as male geisha.
RISE OF THE GEISHA
Tokyo geisha with shamisen , circa 1870s
The geisha who worked within the pleasure quarters were essentially imprisoned and strictly forbidden to sell sex in order to protect the business of the oiran . While licensed courtesans existed to meet men's sexual needs, machi geisha carved out a separate niche as artists and erudite female companions.
By 1800, being a geisha was considered a female occupation (though
there are still a handful of male geisha working today). Eventually,
World War II
After Japan lost the war, geisha dispersed and the profession was in shambles. When they regrouped during the Occupation and began to flourish in the 1960s during Japan's postwar economic boom, the geisha world changed. In modern Japan, girls are not sold into indentured service. Nowadays, a geisha's sex life is her private affair. — Liza Dalby , Do They or Don't They?
There were many rumors that stated before the war, a maiko's virginity would be auctioned (the original "mizuage "). But this was confused with the girls who were apprentices to yujo and courtesans. This practice was completely outlawed in 1959. Compulsory education laws passed in the 1960s made traditional geisha apprenticeships difficult, leading to a decline in women entering the field.
In her book Geisha, a Life,
At the pinnacle of the complex geisha ranking system are the grand dowagers of Kyoto. The gokagai of Kyoto are its five geisha districts, also known as hanamachi ("flower towns"). Gion Kōbu , Ponto-chō and Kamishichiken have the highest status; they are very expensive and are frequented by powerful businessmen and politicians ( Gion Kobu is sometimes seen as having the very highest ranking). As reported by Dalby (1983) from her impressions in 1975 Geiko from the other two hanamachi ( Gion Higashi and Miyagawa-chō ) have high prestige but are considered to be one rank lower.
STAGES OF TRAINING
A geiko, minarai and shikomi from Odamoto
A maiko is an apprentice and is therefore bonded under a contract to her okiya. The okiya supplies her with food, board, kimono, obi , and other tools of her trade. Her training is very expensive and her debt must be repaid to the okiya with the earnings she makes. This repayment may continue after the maiko becomes a full-fledged geisha and only when her debts are settled is she permitted to move out to live and work independently.
A maiko will start her formal training on the job as a minarai, which literally means "learning by watching" at an ozashiki (お座敷, a banquet in any traditional Japanese building with tatami ), to sit and observe as the other maiko and geiko interact with customers. This is a way in which she will gain insights of the job, and seek out potential clients. Although minarai attend ozashiki, they do not participate at an advanced level. Their kimono , more elaborate than a geiko's, are intended to do the talking for them. Minarai can be hired for parties but are usually uninvited (yet welcomed) guests at parties that their onee-san attends. They only charge a third of the usual fee. Minarai generally work with a particular tea house (minarai-jaya) learning from the okaa-san (literally "mother", the proprietress of the house). From her, they would learn techniques such as conversation and gaming, which would not be taught to them in school. This stage lasts only about a month or so. Two senior maiko performing a dance.
After a short period the final stage of training begins, and the
students are now called "maiko", rather than minarai.
There are three major elements of a maiko's training. The first is the formal arts training. This takes place in special geisha schools which are found in every hanamachi. The second element is the entertainment training which the maiko learns at various tea houses and parties by observing her onee-san. The third is the social skill of navigating the complex social web of the hanamachi. This is done on the streets. Formal greetings, gifts, and visits are key parts of any social structure in Japan and for a maiko, they are crucial for her to build the support network she needs to survive as a geisha.
Around the age of 20–21, the maiko is promoted to a full-fledged
geisha in a ceremony called erikae (turning of the collar). This
could happen after three to five years of her life as a maiko or
hangyoku, depending on at what age she debuted.
FEMALE DOMINANCE IN GEISHA SOCIETY
The biggest industry in Japan is not shipbuilding, producing cultured
pearls, or manufacturing transistor radios or cameras. It is
entertainment. — Boye De Mente, Some Prefer
The term geisha literally translates to "entertainer". Some prostitutes refer to themselves as "geisha", but they are not. A geisha's sex and love life is usually distinct from her professional life. A successful geisha can entertain her male customers with music, dance, and conversation.
Geishas are not submissive and subservient, but in fact they are some of the most financially and emotionally successful and strongest women in Japan, and traditionally have been so. — Iwasaki Mineko, Geisha, A Life
There is currently no western equivalent for a geisha—they are truly the most impeccable form of Japanese art. — Kenneth Champeon, The Floating World
RELATIONSHIPS WITH MALE GUESTS
A geisha entertaining a foreign guest
The appeal of a high-ranking geisha to her typical male guest has historically been very different from that of his wife. The ideal geisha showed her skill, while the ideal wife was modest. The ideal geisha seemed carefree, the ideal wife somber and responsible. Historically, geisha did sometimes marry their clients, but marriage necessitated retirement, as there were never married geisha.
GEISHA AS A WOMEN-CENTERED SOCIETY
Women in the geisha society are some of the most successful businesswomen in Japan. In the geisha society, women run everything. Without the impeccable business skills of the female tea house owners, the world of geisha would cease to exist. The tea house owners are entrepreneurs, whose service to the geisha is highly necessary for the society to run smoothly. Infrequently, men take contingent positions such as hair stylists, dressers (dressing a maiko requires considerable strength) and accountants, but men have a limited role in geisha society.
The geisha system was founded, actually, to promote the independence
and economic self-sufficiency of women. And that was its stated
purpose, and it actually accomplished that quite admirably in Japanese
society, where there were very few routes for women to achieve that
sort of independence. —
The majority of women were wives who did not work outside of their familial duties. Becoming a geisha was a way for women to support themselves without becoming a wife. Thus, some argue that geisha women live in a women-centered society. Women run the geisha houses, they are teachers, they run the tea houses, they recruit aspiring geisha, and they keep track of a geisha's finances. The only major role men play in geisha society is that of guest, though women sometimes take that role as well.
Historically, Japanese feminists have seen geisha as exploited women, but some modern geisha see themselves as liberated feminists: "We find our own way, without doing family responsibilities. Isn't that what feminists are?"
Modern geisha still live in traditional geisha houses called okiya in areas called hanamachi (花街 "flower towns"), particularly during their apprenticeship. Many experienced geisha are successful enough to choose to live independently. The elegant, high-culture world that geisha are a part of is called karyūkai (花柳界 "the flower and willow world").
Before the twentieth century, geisha training began when a girl was around the age of four. Now, girls must go to school until they are 15 years old and have graduated from middle school and then make the personal decision to train to become a geisha. Young women who wish to become geisha now most often begin their training after high school or even college. Many more women begin their careers in adulthood.
By watching other geisha, and with the assistance of the owner of the geisha house, apprentices also become skilled dealing with clients and in the complex traditions surrounding selecting and wearing kimono , a floor length silk robe embroidered with intricate designs which is held together by a sash at the waist which is called an obi.
Kyoto is often most strongly associated with the geisha tradition. The geisha in Kyoto's districts, as well as in other parts of western Japan, are known as geiko. The Tokyo hanamachi of Shimbashi, Asakusa and Kagurazaka are also well known.
In modern Japan, geisha and maiko are now a rare sight outside
hanamachi or chayagai (茶屋街, literally "tea house district",
often referred to as "entertainment district"). In the 1920s, there
were over 80,000 geisha in Japan, but today, there are far fewer.
The exact number is unknown to outsiders and is estimated to be from
1,000 to 2,000, mostly in the resort town of
A sluggish economy, declining interest in the traditional arts, the exclusive nature of the flower and willow world, and the expense of being entertained by geisha have all contributed to the tradition's decline. However, the flower and willow world has seen a resurgence in new members over the last 10 years due to the accessibility that the internet has provided for young girls wanting to know more about the profession and not needing a formal introduction to an okiya. Entrance to Ichiriki Chaya , one of the most famous tea houses where geisha entertain in Gion
This section's FACTUAL ACCURACY IS DISPUTED . Relevant discussion
may be found on Talk:
In recent times, non-Japanese women have also become geisha. Liza Dalby worked briefly with geisha as part of her doctorate research in the 1970s, although she did not formally debut.
Other foreign nationals who have worked as geisha in Japan include Ibu, a geiko of Ukrainian ancestry working in Anjo, Juri, a Peruvian geisha working in the resort town of Yugawara, and Fukutarō (Isabella Onou), a Romanian national working in the Izu-Nagaoka district of Shizuoka. Australian national Fiona Graham debuted as a trainee under the name Sayuki in the Asakusa district of Tokyo. She was, however, kicked out of Asakusa in 2011 for not following the rules laid out by her teachers and her elders. As of October 2015, Kimicho, an American from St. Louis, was in training in the Oimachi district of Shinagawa, Tokyo.
While traditionally geisha have led a cloistered existence, in recent years they have become more publicly visible, and entertainment is available without requiring the traditional introduction and connections.
The most visible form of this are public dances, or odori (generally written in traditional kana spelling as をどり, rather than modern おどり), featuring both maiko and geisha. All the Kyoto hanamachi hold these annually (mostly in spring, with one exclusively in autumn), dating to the Kyoto exhibition of 1872, and there are many performances, with tickets being inexpensive, ranging from around 1500 yen to 4500 yen – top-price tickets also include an optional tea ceremony (tea and wagashi served by maiko) before the performance; see Kyoto hanamachi and Kanazawa hanamachi for a detailed listing. Other hanamachi also hold public dances, including some in Tokyo, but have fewer performances. A maiko from the Kamishichiken district serving tea at the plum blossom festival at Kitano Tenman-gū .
Another notable event is that the geisha (including maiko) of the Kamishichiken district in northwest Kyoto serve tea to 3,000 guests on February 25 in an annual open-air tea ceremony (野点, nodate) at the plum-blossom festival (梅花祭, baikasai) at Kitano Tenman-gū shrine. As of 2010 , these geisha also serve beer in a beer garden at Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theatre during summer months (July to early September); another geisha beer garden is available at the Gion Shinmonso ryokan in the Gion district. These beer gardens also feature traditional dances by the geisha in the evenings.
The dance of the geisha has evolved from the dance performed on the noh and kabuki stages. The "wild and outrageous" dances transformed into a more subtle, stylized, and controlled form of dance. It is extremely disciplined, similar to t\'ai chi . Every dance uses gestures to tell a story and only a connoisseur can understand the subdued symbolism. For example, a tiny hand gesture represents reading a love letter, holding the corner of a handkerchief in the mouth represents coquetry and the long sleeves of the elaborate kimono are often used to symbolize dabbing tears.
The dances are accompanied by traditional Japanese music. The primary instrument is the shamisen . The shamisen was introduced to the geisha culture in 1750 and has been mastered by female Japanese artists for years. This shamisen, originating in Okinawa, is a banjo-like three-stringed instrument that is played with a plectrum . It has a very distinct, melancholy sound that is often accompanied by flute. The instrument is described as "melancholy" because traditional shamisen music uses only minor thirds and sixths. All geisha must learn shamisen-playing, though it takes years to master. Along with the shamisen and the flute, geisha also learned to play a ko-tsuzumi , a small, hourglass-shaped shoulder drum, and a large floor taiko (drum). Some geisha would not only dance and play music, but would write beautiful, melancholy poems. Others painted pictures or composed music.
GEISHA AND PROSTITUTION
Sheridan Prasso wrote that Americans had "an incorrect impression of
the real geisha world ... geisha means 'arts person' trained in music
and dance, not in the art of sexual pleasure". K. G. Henshall wrote
that the geisha's purpose was "to entertain their customer, be it by
dancing, reciting verse, playing musical instruments, or engaging in
In 1872, shortly after the Meiji Restoration , the new government passed a law liberating "prostitutes (shōgi) and geisha (geigi)". The wording of this statute was the subject of controversy. Some officials thought that prostitutes and geisha worked at different ends of the same profession—selling sex— and that all prostitutes should henceforth be called "geisha". In the end, the government decided to maintain a line between the two groups, arguing that geisha were more refined and should not be soiled by association with prostitutes.
Also, geisha working in onsen towns such as
PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS AND DANNA
During the period of the Allied occupation of Japan , local women
Eventually, the English term "geisha girl" became a general word for any female Japanese prostitute or worker in the mizu shōbai and included bar hostesses and streetwalkers .
Main article: Mizuage
MIZUAGE (水揚げ) was a ceremony undergone by a maiko where a man paid money for the privilege of having sex with the apprentice. Prostitutes posing as geisha often used this term to refer to their acts with customers. Such prostitutes often called themselves "geisha" in the company of foreign soldiers and even Japanese customers, thus leading to the confusion between the roles of the two.
Mizuage literally means "raising the waters" and originally meant unloading a ship's cargo of fish. Over time, the word came to represent money earned in the entertainment business.
The money acquired for an apprentice's mizuage was a great sum and it was used to promote her debut as a full-fledged geisha. The ceremonial deflowering of the young girl was not only a commercial transaction, but was a rite of passage : The idea that maiko underwent mizuage can be attributed to both confusion between true geisha and courtesan, as well as the idea that a fully fledged geisha is a sophisticated "professional woman" expected to have worldly knowledge of the opposite sex.
Mature geisha (center) ordinarily wear subdued clothing, makeup, and hair, contrasting with the more colourful clothing, heavy makeup, and elaborate hair of maiko (apprentices; left and right). The maiko Mamechiho in the Gion district. Notice the green pin on the mid-left called tsunagi-dango: this identifies her as a maiko of Gion kobu.
A geisha's appearance changes throughout her career, from the girlish, heavily made-up maiko, to the more somber appearance of an older established geisha. Different hairstyles and hairpins signify different stages of a girl's development and even a detail as minute as the length of one's eyebrows is significant. Short eyebrows are for the young and long eyebrows display maturity.
In modern times the traditional makeup of apprentice geisha is one of their most recognizable characteristics, though established geisha generally only wear full white face makeup characteristic of maiko during special performances.
The traditional makeup of an apprentice geisha features a thick white base with red lipstick and red and black accents around the eyes and eyebrows. Originally, the white base mask was made with lead; after the discovery that it poisoned the skin and caused terrible skin and back problems for the older geisha towards the end of the Meiji Era , it was replaced with rice powder.
The application of makeup is hard to perfect and is time-consuming.
After the foundation layer is applied, a sponge is patted all over the face, throat, chest, the nape and neck to remove excess moisture and to blend the foundation. Next the eyes and eyebrows are drawn in. Traditionally, charcoal was used, but today, modern cosmetics are used. The eyebrows and edges of the eyes are coloured black with a thin charcoal; a maiko also applies red around her eyes.
The lips are filled in using a small brush. The colour comes in a small stick, which is melted in water. Crystallized sugar is then added to give the lips luster. Rarely will a geisha colour in both lips fully in the Western style, as white creates optical illusions and colouring the lips fully would make them appear overly large. The lower lip is coloured in partially and the upper lip left white for maiko in her first year, after which the upper lip is coloured. Newly full-fledged geisha will colour in only the top lip fully. Most geisha wear the top lip coloured in fully or stylized, and the bottom lip in a curved stripe that does not follow the shape of the lip. Geisha round the bottom lips to create the illusion of a flower bud.
For the first year, a maiko wears this heavy makeup almost constantly. During her initiation, the maiko is helped with her makeup either by her onee-san, or "older sister" (an experienced geisha who is her mentor), or by the okaa-san, or "mother" of her geisha house. After this, she applies the makeup herself.
After a maiko has been working for three years, she changes her make-up to a more subdued style. The reason for this is that she has now become mature, and the simpler style shows her own natural beauty. For formal occasions, the mature geisha will still apply white make-up. For geisha over thirty, the heavy white make-up is only worn during those special dances that require it. Further information: History of cosmetics
A senior maiko (left) with darari obi and geisha with taiko-musubi Niigata geisha performing dance, dressed in kimono and taiko musubi
The colour, pattern, and style of kimono is dependent on the season and the event the geisha is attending. A kimono can take from two to three years to complete, due to painting and embroidering.
Geiko wear red or pink nagajuban, or under-kimono. A maiko wears red with white printed patterns. The junior maiko's collar is predominantly red with white, silver, or gold embroidery. Two to three years into her apprenticeship, the red collar will be entirely embroidered in white (when viewed from the front) to show her seniority. When she becomes a fully fledged geisha her collar will turn from red to solid white.
Mamechiho as a geiko.
The hairstyles of geisha have varied through history. In the past, it has been common for women to wear their hair down in some periods and up in others. During the 17th century, women began putting all their hair up again, and it is during this time that the traditional shimada hairstyle , a type of chignon worn by most established geisha, developed.
There are four major types of the shimada: the taka shimada, a high
chignon usually worn by young, single women; the tsubushi shimada, a
more flattened chignon generally worn by older women; the yuiwata, a
chignon that is usually bound up with a piece of coloured cotton crepe
. Additional hairstyles are Ofuku, Katsuyama, Yakko-shimada, and Sakko
These hairstyles are decorated with elaborate hair-combs and hairpins (kanzashi ). In the seventeenth century and after the Meiji Restoration period, hair-combs were large and conspicuous, generally more ornate for higher-class women. Following the Meiji Restoration and into the modern era, smaller and less conspicuous hair-combs became more popular.
IN POPULAR CULTURE
A growing number of geisha have complained to the authorities about being pursued down the street and tugged on the sleeves of their kimonos by groups of tourists keen to take their photograph. As a result, residents and local businesses have joined forces to protect the geisha by launching patrols of the streets of the Gion entertainment district of the city in order to prevent tourists from pestering them.
* Masuda, Sayo (1957). Autobiography of a Geisha
(芸者,苦闘の半生涯 Geisha, kutō no hanshōgai, lit. Geisha,
Half a Lifetime of Pain and Struggle). ISBN 0-231-12951-3 .
* Dalby, Liza (1983). Geisha.
University of California Press
IN GEISHA PHOTOGRAPHY
* Ogino, Naoyuki (2007). A Girl Inherited
* ^ \'Geisha\' pronounced in Japanese, Forvo, the pronunciation
* ^ "
* Aihara, Kyoko. Geisha: A Living Tradition. London: Carlton Books,
2000. ISBN 1-85868-937-6 , ISBN 1-85868-970-8 .
* Ariyoshi Sawako, The Twilight Years. Translated by Mildred Tahara.
New York: Kodansha America, 1987.
* Burns, Stanley B., and Elizabeth A. Burns. Geisha: A Photographic
History, 1872–1912. Brooklyn, N.Y.: powerHouse Books, 2006. ISBN
* Downer, Lesley. Women of the Pleasure Quarters: The Secret History
of the Geisha. New York: Broadway Books, 2001. ISBN 0-7679-0489-3 ,
ISBN 0-7679-0490-7 .
* Foreman, Kelly. "The Gei of Geisha. Music, Identity, and Meaning."
London: Ashgate Press, 2008.
* Ishihara, Tetsuo. Peter MacIntosh, trans.
Nihongami no Sekai:
Look up 芸者 or GEISHA in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
* Media related to