Geishas are masters of Asian ceremonies. It is an extremely old profession that, although increasingly rare, reigns supreme in the minds of a great many Japanese. What sets geisha apart? What makes them so much talked about?

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“Geisha” The term, in relation to women, appeared in 1750. Previously, the role of geisha was played by men, who were something of a jester. They provided entertainment for visitors to brothels. Over time, these tasks were fulfilled by women who later worked exclusively as dancers, although there were times when some chose to engage in prostitution.

However, this is not the only source of the misleading image of geisha. Americans occupying Japan after World War II used the services of Japanese prostitutes (so-called geisha girls), who often styled themselves as geishas, which were absent there at the time. Despite such a past in Japanese culture, geisha are artists, dancers, singers, they are the feminine embodiment of perfection and femme fatale. They are women endowed with extraordinary charm and charisma.

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Cities of flowers

Nowadays, real geisha can only be found in small enclaves known as flower cities. The most prestigious of these is Gion, which is a district of Japan’s former capital Kyoto. Several are also located in Tokyo. They are getting fewer and fewer every year, and so are the geishas that are increasingly rare. Japan’s modernization in the 1960s. i 70. The 1970s was the beginning of the end of their culture. Hostess bars and brothels have sprung up in place of the former restaurants and tea houses, where parties were held in their company. Tourist attractions offer the services of prostitutes dressed as geisha. There are also companies in Japan that provide styling that makes their clients look like “butterflies of the night.” In this disguise you can go out on the town or have a photo shoot.

On the guard of tradition

Traditional geisha schools still exist, although they operate somewhat differently. These schools had to relax the strict rules, otherwise they would not have enough female students. To be in the profession, geisha must have completed training, during which the girls learn dancing, singing, flower arranging, playing the shamisen (a traditional Japanese stringed instrument) and are trained in the tea ceremony. In addition, they learn various games and activities. They also need to be able to have intelligent conversations about all sorts of topics. They start classes early in the morning and attend parties with their older classmates in the afternoon. They are held in traditional Japanese tea houses, the so-called ochaya, whose guests are exclusively men.

In Japanese culture, spending time with geisha, even if you are married, is not inappropriate. However, this entertainment is elitist and extremely expensive and requires an invitation. Foreigners are not allowed into the ochaya, unless they are important personalities. A standard tea room party lasts about three hours. It opens with a treat of sake, Japanese rice wine. Artistic performances take place later, and sometimes geisha also stay for a communal meal. Geishas do not eat during parties, but they are expected to consume alcohol with their clients. Their job is to provide customers with entertainment, forgetfulness and make guests feel extraordinary in their company.

From maiko to geiko

They usually attend several parties in one night. They return home around two in the morning, after which the novice geisha, the so-called maiko, start classes again in the morning. In the past, geisha apprenticeship began when a girl was 6 years, 6 months and 6 days old, and ended on her 16th birthday. Then the maiko passed the exam to become a real geisha – a geiko. Nowadays, even teenage girls are admitted to geisha schools, called okiya, and remain maiko for five years. Once they reach geiko status, they can move out of the okiya and become financially independent and start a family. In the past, according to unwritten law, geisha led mostly solitary lives.

Asian master of ceremonies "Geisha"
Until 1750, only men played the role of Geisha.

Outdoor luxury

Maiko dresses more costumed and colorful and, unlike geiko, wears a lot of ornaments in her hair. Geishas perform extremely distinctive makeup. The face and neck are painted white. The kimono at the neck is slightly turned up and pushed back to stimulate the male imagination. Its design hides a woman’s natural curves, making the silhouette completely straight.

Moving around in a kimono is very uncomfortable. It allows only small steps. It is impossible to set it up alone. This complicated and physically demanding task is mainly performed by men. The traditional kimono belt, called obi, is very long and is tied differently in maiko and geiko. A silk, hand-painted kimono costs between 10,000 and 50,000. dollars. Geishas need at least 10 of them for all seasons and individual holidays.

Japanese celebrities

Today, being a geisha is compared to the situation of female celebrities in the West. It’s an elite profession, and geisha are famous in their neighborhood. Such a life, however, requires sacrifices. Geiko have only two days off per month. There is no specific retirement age for geisha. The oldest living geiko is 94 years old. Although for some ladies, being a geisha is still more attractive than working in an office, their future is now uncertain. That’s why in Japan they are doing everything to make this tradition last for centuries to come.

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