History of Geisha
• The art of geisha began
in the 1600's in the
Tokugawa period (1600-
1868) in Japan, but did
not really take hold as an
institution until the late
1800's in the Meiji era
• They were originally men
who cross dressed . It
later became all woman.
What does “Geisha” mean?
• Technically "geisha" refers to "one who
lives as art". What "art" are we referring
to? It is a multifaceted art, playing the
shamisen, drums, dancing, performing the
tea ceremony, calligraphy and the ability to
• Is a apprentice to the Geisha who is referred to as
“onee-san” which means older sister.
• She is in a contract with the “Okamisan” in which
she is in debt because the “Okamisan” provides her
with a home, food, schooling, all the clothing and
makeup, along with all the training she will need
to become a Geisha. Even when she becomes a
Geisha she might still be in debt for a couple of
• A maiko has to earn her title and must start by
doing all the chores in the Geisha house and take
care of her senior sisters.
• This girl to the right was 15 when she droped out
of school and left home and joined a Okamisan in
order to begin her training in hopes of becoming a
• In her house she was not allowed to contact her
familly for 4 months. After 4 months of training
she took her exam to see if she would be excepted
as a Maiko. And she she was YEAY!
Difference between Maiko and Geisha
• An apprentice Kyoto Geisha (btw the
ages of 15 to 21).
• It emphasizes the youth and the
beauty of the geisha.
• Richly patterned with motifs of the
• Such patterns as cherry
blossom, maple leaves, autumn
grasses, turtles, and cranes.
• Wide sleeves that trail down to the
floor to proclaim her unmarried
• Eri (which is collar on the back of the
• Is red and decorated
• -A fully qualified Geisha (esp in
• - Less patterned kimonos then maiko
kimonos ( Higher the rank the more
restrained the designs become)
• - Only one shoulder is decorated.
• - Sleeves are narrower
• - Train is not allowed to sweep along
• - Sliver (0nce a maiko becomes a
• - Obi for a Geiko is tied in a boxy
-The weight of the garment is
• It takes skill to put on a kimono
because there are no buttons and
all come in one size.
•Tying the Obi is very difficult
because it requires physical
strength, that is why most geishas
have assistant dressers.
•They even have schools that to
teach you how to wear kimonos
•The kimono is said to take an
hour to put on, with assistance.
•A kimono can cost anywhere
from 20 thousand to 100
What do Geisha do?
Dance and Sing
3 string instrument known
Parts of Geisha Wear
• Hair Ornaments – The hair pins vary from
seasons. Each month they have a different
type of design or motif for the hair
• Hairstyle- There are five different types:
Wareshinobu, Ofuku, Katsuyana, and Sakko.
• Make up- It goes back to the Heian Period.
Which was worn by the nobles.
• The white makeup is brushed on from the
neck down to the nape down.
• A stencil is used for the back of the neck to
create the “w” shape for the neck.
• Then the rest of the make-up is put on such
as the eyeliner, eyebrow paint, and then red
• Geta- which are wooden sandals . For
geishas, it can be ten-centimeter tall clogs.
The process of becoming a Geisha
• As maiko, they learn traditional dance, how to play the shamisen.
They will attend parties with the geisha, to learn and observe, but
will not have the responsibilities of the geisha.
• Geisha and maiko are known by their white face makeup and cherry
red lips. The maiko only puts red lipstick on her lower lip. Other
differences are seen in how the kimono is worn or how the "obi" is
• She trains for 3-4 years. Around age 20-21, the maiko goes through
a ceremony called "erikae", with literally means "to turn the collar"
and refers to a manner in which the way the kimono is worn when
she becomes a geisha.
• Now forbidden, there was a time not to long ago when the maiko
went through what is called "mizu-age". This was a ritual in which
she lost her virginity to the highest bidder.
•They live in
•This is a
house, which is
run by the
"okamisan”, she is
the like the
mother to all the
•It is communal
Geisha Now and Then
Prior to WW2
• Geisha were very popular
• The economy was good
• There were over 80
thousand Geisha’s in Japan
• They hosted many banquets
and tea party’s.
• After WW2 the economy wasn’t
great and there wasn’t as many
• The demand wasn’t as large as
• Today it is estimated that there
are about 1 -2 thousand Geisha’s
• Also Japan is modern and Geisha
is more of the past.
• Currently you could go to Japan
as a tourist and pay about 60
dollars to be able to get made up
as a knock off Geisha and take
American View on Geisha
• First of they think she is a
• She is dehumanized by being
viewed as an oriental object.
• She is not given power and
respect but rather viewed as a
fragile delicate woman.
• She is a fantasy
• She is viewed as inferior to
westernize culture by the
stereotype rumors of what she
was. The elegancy and complexity
of her character was cheapen by
the title of Prostitute once given
by the GI’s.
• She is viewed as an Entertainer
for men rather than an Artist.