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10 things you didn’t know about geisha

6 Comments
By Amy Chavez, RocketNews24

We’ve talked before about geisha as one of Japan’s distinctly female professions, so this time we’re going to share with you a few fun facts about the geisha and their floating world.

How many of these things did you know about geisha?

1. In their heyday, geisha were fashion trend-setters and were even used to promote beauty products.

Geisha were subjects of woodblock prints, kabuki plays and they became role models for Japanese women. Many people even collected geisha photo cards.

2. Geisha have traveled abroad to perform for audiences around the world.

3. Geisha also entertain women.

Contrary to popular belief, geisha are not just for men. They also entertain female clients who revere them as models of feminine grace. In addition, they perform publicly at designated times during the year.

4. Geisha are treated like celebrities in Japan

It’s unusual even for Japanese people to get a chance to see geisha or be entertained by one in private unless they are a politician or business executive.

5. Young girls who decide to become geisha at a young age will opt out of high school so they can begin their training.

They then become apprentices in boarding houses called "okiya" where they continue their education.

6. The younger the woman, the more red she wears.

Have you ever wondered why geisha paint their faces white? The traditional colors used for make up are black, white and red, all of which provide a striking contrast to the colors in their kimono.

However, Peter Macintosh who teaches geisha culture at Kansai University in Japan adds: “They started wearing white make up so their faces would reflect in the candle light.”

7. Geisha are mostly dressed by males called "otokoshi."

While geisha (also called "maiko" or "geiko" in Kyoto) apply their own make-up, "otokoshi" have the skilled task of dressing them.

8. Their brooches can cost up to $40,000 each.

Decorative obi (belt) ornaments, called "pochhiri" are often studded with precious or semi-precious jewels and start from $5,000.

9. Geisha can never completely relax, even at home.

The pressure and expectation to be models of proper manners never abates. “If I want to just lie on my side and watch TV I can’t because I am always supposed to sit up straight,” says a geisha in the documentary ‘Real Geisha Real Women.’ “If I go up to my room, my younger sister is there. She would remind me that as her senior, I am setting a bad example.”

10. "Ryotei" or "ochaya" (members-only tea houses) are exclusive venues where geisha perform.

These restaurants and tea houses are places where VIPs can go to make deals and know they are in complete privacy.

Sources: NHK’s Begin Japanology, YouTube (Real Geisha Real Women), Facebook (Real Geisha Real Women), Kyoto Sights and Nights, Peter Macintosh

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- The Ozashiki Cafe — Japanese restaurant offers chance to spend time with real-life geisha! -- Maiko beauty secrets: Skincare tips from Japan’s apprentice geisha -- Forget geisha and samurai, experience Japan by dressing up as an Osaka Obachan

© Japan Today

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6 Comments
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They forgot about the obi worn higher up or lower down to denote age/level/seniority. Not a significant point I must admit.

And they are not whores, a more thoroughly significant point though

Otherwise some bits above epitomise much of social expectations here outside of that world:

The pressure and expectation to be models of proper manners never abates. “If I want to just lie on my side and watch TV I can’t because I am always supposed to sit up straight, ... If I go up to my room, my younger sister is there. She would remind me that as her senior, I am setting a bad example.”

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Geisha are women, people like anyone else, but they have chosen a very demanding way of life.

No one rule for all, there are/were levels of Geisha, and the lower you got, the lower you got, until the word Geisha was not particularly applicable any longer.

On the ship coming over to Japan the sailors all used to say "Geesha" with a knowing leer.

Thanks for the info, Amy! :8)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

geishas were also used as assassins during the samurai wars era

1 ( +1 / -0 )

One more interesting point: actually geisha were men. "geisha" is not used in Kyoto, where they use "maiko" and "geiko", as the article notes. The reason is that in Kyoto, traditionally geisha were men, and after the last one died about 30 years ago, people in Kyoto did not use the word geisha anymore. Geisha for women is in Tokyo.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I read this article twice, but the second time, it was all lies - I already knew those things.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Dan Lewis at May. 25, 2016 - 10:28PM JST "I read this article twice, but the second time, it was all lies - I already knew those things."

Ha ha. I read it once and it was all lies as there was nothing new in it for me. A rather condescending headline, isn't it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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