Women UK look at the beauty that is a Geisha, beautiful, restraint, obedient, alluring or oppressed? Often mysterious to us westerners, we take a closer look. A geisha is a woman highly trained in the arts of music, dance and entertaining. Geisha is Japanese for “person of art.” She spends many years learning and being trained to play many various musical instruments, sing, dance and be the perfect hostess in a party of men. A geisha, when she is working, is just that: the illusion of female perfection.
Many Westerners confuse geisha with prostitutes. Those who understand the intricacies of Japanese culture explain that a geisha is not a prostitute. A true geisha reaches success because she projects a sense of unattainable perfection. She is a perfect hostess and can speak about politics as easily as she can explain the rules of a drinking game.
During the poorest times in Japan, the success of the geisha led many impoverished parents to sell their young daughters to a Geisha house (okiya). These children trained from the age of five or six to become successful geisha and repay the okiya for the cost of their training. Today, young women choose to become Geisha just like they might choose to become doctors. They typically begin their training after junior high school, and the training is rigorous. Only the most dedicated women make it to full Geisha status.
For a Geisha, getting ready for work involves hours of preparation. The distinctive appearance of a Geisha is part of her allure, but it’s not only about beauty and exclusivity. It’s also a way to tell the difference between a maiko (a Geisha in training) and a Geisha and between a child Geisha and an adult Geisha. You can tell a lot about a Geisha just by looking at her.
Unlike a regular kimono, a Geisha kimono exposes her neckline — in Japanese culture, this is considered the most sensual part of a woman. Until a Geisha is qualified, her neck is covered!
The stages of a Geisha Life
Maiko: As an apprentice geisha, a maiko spends about five years learning the arts of music, dance and hostessing. She attends parties to observe and be seen.
Erikae: The erikae (“turning of the collar to expose the neckline”) ceremony marks the transition from Maiko to Geisha.
Geisha: Throughout her career, a Geisha lives in the district in which she works. She spends her time entertaining, studying arts and performing. If she binds herself to a danna (patron), she may move out of the okiya into her own apartment.
Hiki-iwai: The hiki-iwai ceremony marks a geisha’s retirement. She no longer entertains at parties, and she may discontinue her studies. At this point, a former geisha might become the head of an okiya or teahouse, or she may leave the geisha life entirely.
Mysterious to us but how beautiful and dedicated these women must be….