It is important to understand the role of the female entertainer in Japanese culture. That is why the Geisha has a specific role. The geisha is described as a century old professional entertainer the geisha is an important part of traditional Japanese social life. Geisha are masters in the arts, trained in music, calligraphy, Sado (tea ceremony) poetry, conversation and social graces as well as three stringed instruments called Shamisen. They dress in traditional kimonos, stunning in their elegance.
Basic wooden geta clogs are worn for footwear, and hair is up in bun type coiffures trimmed with metallic accessories The Japanese character for ‘gei’ means art or performance and ‘sha’ means person. Literally translated, geisha means ‘a person of the arts or performance’. Following this translation geisha’s are professional entertainers, who amuse guests by performing arts. They also prepare and serve drinks, mostly tea, and entertain guests with conversation. To become a geisha in the past you had to be the daughter of geisha.
It was also very common that small beautiful girls from poor families were sold to the tea house called O-chaya to start their training to become a geisha. Obviously this practice is not common anymore, but still future geisha’s are often trained from the early childhood to achieve high standards for their performances. Even after becoming a geisha, girls keep on taking many lessons to improve their skills. 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. Contemporary Geisha, though much fewer in numbers, still live collectively during their apprenticeship in okiya in areas called hanamachi, and often begin their training after completing junior high school, high school, or college.
Maiko still study instruments such as the shakuhachi and shamisen, and are well versed in literature, poetry, tea ceremony, wearing kimono, and traditional Japanese dance. The district of Gion Kobu in the city of Kyoto is now considered the epicenter of contemporary Geisha. The life of a Geisha still resides in the elegant cultured world known as karyukai, and they are often hired to attend parties and gatherings at tea houses and traditional Japanese restaurants. The time spent with guests is measured by burning an incense stick known as senkodai. The role of a Geisha is extensive.
Geisha were traditionally trained from early childhood. Geisha houses often took girls from poor families, and took the responsibility of raising and training them. They worked first as maids and then as assistants to the house’s senior Geisha to contribute to their expenses. They train themselves in various traditional arts, maintain many different relationships with men and they also entertain at business banquets or parties. However there are two things a Geisha will not do. They will not prepare or serve food and they will never have a one night stand.
It is a must for a Geisha to train themselves in various traditional arts that included several styles of singing in the hanamachi (Geisha community), classical dancing and playing the shamisen. A Geisha’s work includes entertaining guests at expensive tea houses. They serve drinks, talk with guests and perform. Today it is common for Geisha women to be models or go on International tours. Geisha are not prostitutes, but they do maintain many different relationships with men. Although it is appropriate for a Geisha to have a patron that she is involved with sexually, emotionally and economically a she may choose not to do so.
Geisha’s earn a considerable amount of money by entertaining at business banquets or parties. They have conversation and they perform for the guests. Geisha may perform “Tachikata” or “Jikata”. Tachikata mainly do traditional Japanese dance. They are usually the maiko girls. Jakita mainly sing or play instruments. They are usually the older Geisha women. During these banquets and parties Geisha pay special attention to the Guest of Honor. Geisha do not discuss anything that is said at one of these events