Japan’s Geisha

One of the most delightful and unique elements of Japanese culture is an art of being Geisha. Geisha, or Geiko, or Geigi is female, the so-called, Japanese entertainer who professionally performs various Japanese arts, including classical dance and music arts at banquets, or in other words, a Japanese girl or woman who is trained to provide entertaining and lighthearted company especially for a man or a group of men. (Merriam-Webster, “geisha”). To begin with, to become a geisha Japanese young age girls traditionally experience a rigorous course of tuition in the process of which she achieves various skills, such as playing instruments, singing, dancing, the skill of conducting a conversation and other social skills. Quite often daughters of geisha were educated and trained as geisha too. Some girls though it is now a thing of the past were bound to special geisha houses (okiya) as a children but it was not popular in respectable, trustworthy districts of Japan. Before a miako (literary “dance child” – geisha-trainee) starts her ceremonial schooling as minarai she must find an “older sister” (onee-san) who being an older geisha can act as her guide and advisor. The “older sister” is in charge of taking future geisha to the place of work and letting her see the way geisha performs her duty. Also minarai is to be present at dinners and feasts that are served by geisha but they do not participate at the high level. Admittedly during such dinners future geisha obtains awareness and comprehension of the job and looks for possible clients. This stage of becoming a geisha lasts only for a month or so.

After this level minarai (geisha-trainee) is already called miako and the concluding period of schooling begins. It is important to mention that this stage can endure for years. Miako masters from the higher-ranking geisha all the secrets of this profession. At the age of 20-22 miako is honored to be called a geisha in a special ceremony – ericae (turning of the collar) (Reynolds, 159). Now she is paid a full salary of geisha and stays as such until retires.

Another unique characteristic feature of this occupation is geisha’s appearance. It changes all through her career: first it is a girlish way of look and gradually appearance of an older geisha becomes much somber. One of the most noticeable features of geisha’s appearance is the traditional make-up.

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