GEISHA

19bGeisha – Geisha information, Geisha pictures, where to see Geisha, Geisha and prostitution and Maiko – trainee Geisha.Geisha (“person of the arts”) are traditional Japanese artist-entertainers. The word Geiko is also used to describe such persons. Geisha were very common in the 18th and 19th centuries, and are still in existence today, although their numbers are dwindling. “Geisha,” pronounced /(“gay-sha”) is the most familiar term to English speakers, and the most commonly used within Japan as well, but in the Kansai region the terms geigi and, for apprentice geisha, “Maiko” have also been used.since the Meiji Restoration. The term maiko is only used in Kyoto districts. The English pronunciation (“gee-sha”) or the phrase “geisha girl,” common during the American occupation of Japan, carry connotations of prostitution, as some young women, desperate for money and calling themselves “geisha,” sold themselves to American troops.

The geisha tradition evolved from the taikomochi or hokan, similar to court jesters. The first geisha were all male; as women began to take the role they were known as onna geisha, or “woman artist (female form).” Geisha today are exclusively female, aside from the Taikomochi. Taikomochi are exceedingly rare. Only three are currently registered in Japan. They tend to be far more bawdy than geisha. Other public figures who contributed to the creation of the modern geisha were Oiran, or courtesans, and Odoriko, dancing girls. The Odoriko in particular influenced geisha to include dance as part of their artistic repertoire.

Geisha were traditionally trained from young childhood. Geisha houses often bought young girls from poor families, and took responsibility for raising and training them. During their childhood, apprentice geisha worked first as maids, then as assistants to the house’s senior geisha as part of their training and to contribute to the costs of their upkeep and education. This long-held tradition of training still exists in Japan, where a student lives at the home of a master of some art, starting out doing general housework and observing and assisting the master, and eventually moving up to become a master in her own right (see also irezumi). This training often lasts for many years.
The course of study traditionally starts from a young age and encompasses a wide variety of arts, including Japanese musical instruments (particularly the shamisen) and traditional forms of singing, traditional dance, tea ceremony, flower arranging (ikebana), poetry and literature. By watching and assisting senior geisha, they became skilled in the complex traditions surrounding selecting, matching, and wearing precious kimono, and in various games and the art of conversation, and also in dealing with clients.

Once a woman became an apprentice geisha (a maiko) she would begin to accompany senior geisha to the tea houses, parties and banquets that constitute a geisha’s work environment. To some extent, this traditional method of training persists, though it is of necessity foreshortened. Modern geisha are no longer bought by or brought into geisha houses as children. Becoming a geisha is now entirely voluntary. Most geisha now begin their training in their late teens.

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