During that time, all the young trainees sleep and eat with their proprietress and senior geisha, who are called geiko in Kyoto. Trainees are immersed in what they must learn to work in the geisha quarters. In Komaya, a geisha house, nine trainees, geiko and maiko live.
Reuters - Geishas are female entertainers in Japan who perform traditional dance and music for dinner parties and meetings at exclusive restaurants. There were around 40, geisha in Japan in the mids but only an estimated 1, remain. Their decline is attributed to a fading interest in traditional arts and the emergence of karaoke and other forms of entertainment.
Geisha are professional entertainers who are well-versed in the high arts and culture of Japan. They are not to be confused with prostitutes. Eventually, training progresses to focus on mastery of the traditional Japanese arts and hospitality skills.
The first step towards becoming a geisha is to be accepted into an okiya, a geisha house. The okiya will pay for the training. This female owner of the okiya is the okami or okasan.
The very first step in becoming a geisha is to be legally accepted into an okiya, which may or may not be hard depending on the young woman's connections with the house. Most girls who come to live at an Okiya must be under the tender age of 15, for it is better for a geisha to begin her training at a young age as geisha etiquette takes a lifetime to perfect. So the younger a geisha begins her apprenticeship and artistry, the better.
On a chilly evening earlier in November, geisha Kikuno and her two apprentice maiko host an event that gives guests an opportunity to experience a dinner party with traditional female entertainers. The entertainers, who are visiting from Nara, invite the guests to sip on sake and enjoy a full-course sushi dinner served by second-generation owner Hirosada Okamoto. However, a hush descends on the crowd when the three hostesses begin their performance, with Kikuno dancing gracefully to the soft plucking sound of the shamisen.
One after another, they round the corner and shuffle into the room swiftly and quietly, only creating the slightest of sound as their tiny steps meet the tatami mat. The moment they enter, the atmosphere changes; their presence raises hairs on arms, and everyone immediately goes quiet, in awe of the beauty that has just arrived. On this particular evening, we are honored with the presence of two geiko and one maiko.
Contrary to popular belief, geisha are not the Eastern equivalent of a prostitute; a misconception originating in the West due to interactions with Japanese oiran courtesans, whose traditional attire is similar to that of geisha. The most literal translation of geisha into English would be "artist", "performing artist", or "artisan". This term is used to refer to geisha from Western Japan, which includes Kyoto and Kanazawa. The white make-up and elaborate kimono and hair of a maiko is the popular image held of geisha.
One day in the late s, a year-old American girl called Liza Dalby was walking down a street in Saga, a city in southern Japan, when she heard the music of the shamisen for the first time. It was lucky that they did. After that, one connection always seemed to lead to another.