Japan it is sushi, hara-kiri, ninjas and geishas. For those who move farther it is Murakami, haiku, fugue fish and again geishas. Europeans often tangle geisha with a girl from the bar or usual strumpet. It is a mistake. Geishas it is a historical phenomenon, unique cultural tradition, which does not have analogies.
The word “geisha” consists of two compound components “gei” has “an art” meaning and “sha” like “a person”. Geisha is “an artist” and she is not born like a geisha, she becomes such. First geishas were men. Don’t be surprise, but this profession includes a distraction of guests with dancing, singing, guiding tea ceremony and pleasant talking.
So far as artistic skills of courtesans were not high, an art of geishas, as men as women, was in great demand. By 1800 women-geishas outnumbered their “men-colleagues” in three times. Then the term “geisha” began to adapt exclusively to women, as nowadays.
Traditionally geisha began her teaching in the very early ages. Some girls were sold in geishas by their parents.
Firstly, “a priestess of high art” worked as an assistant of experienced geisha and then as a geisha-pupil (maiko mai (a dance) and ko (a child)). Modern geishas still live in traditional houses, but a lot of experienced ones prefer living in their own flats. Nowadays, young women, who want to become geishas, often begin their teaching after ending secondary school or college. Geisha still studies traditional musical instruments, such as bamboo flute, also she has to know calligraphy, traditional songs, classical Japanese dances, tea ceremony, literature and poetry.
The most popular and famous geishas live in the former capital of Japan Kyoto. You can seldom meet geishas outside this city. In 1920 it was more than eight thousand geishas in Japan, but nowadays there are less than a thousand of them. Such a smart reducing in geisha’s quantity connected with western culture, which captivated Japan after Second World War. There was no more place to ancient Japanese traditions. Modern geishas continue living with the past of their country, promoting the preservation of national culture through this profession. Now they consciously make a choice of their occupation.
Traditional make-up of geisha-pupil is one of the most recognized attributes, though the real geisha puts white cosmetics on the face only during special actions. Porcelain whiteness of face was obtained by great efforts: firstly a layer of cream was put on the face, than it was necessary to rub in wax for making it dead and after that also to strew a face with a powder from lead and nightingale’s muck. Geisha’s hair-dressing was also fixed with a wax. Wood-char was traditionally used for enclosing around eyes and eye-brows, but now modern cosmetics are used. A small puff is used to repaint lips. Crystallized sugar is added to a pomade to make lips blazing. During first three years maiko uses such cosmetics almost constantly. Of course, at first geisha-tutoress helps her with a making-up. After geisha becomes more experienced in her profession, she changes her make-up to more modest. The reason is that now she became mature and her make-up must only score natural beauty. Geisha always wears kimono. Geisha never must be noticed at the same kimono some days together. A colour, model and style of kimono depend on the season and the situation. For preparation of one kimono two or three years is needed, as it will be ornament with difficult embroidery.
Many Japanese, though it’s strange, have never met with a geisha, it is senselessly expensive. A couple of hours in her company will cost a quarter of annual revenue of typical Japanese. Though money isn’t notable here, it’s more important to have recommendations. To be invited to the evening with geisha it’s a great honour for Japanese. A visit to geishas is an original ticket to closed club for honourable public.
The main secret of geishas is the meaning of word “harmony”. Harmony of voice and words, signs and beauty. Gentle, complaint and preventive and at the same time full of exciting inaccessibility, geisha is peerless in art in making a man exalted. With a strumpet a man feels himself like a male, with a geisha like a samurai that is a warrior, a hero, a wise man.