Wednesday, January 21, 2009


One of the symbols of Japanese culture, Gheisas are the first point of interest for every foreigner that enters this fascinating asian country.
A Geisha is, in a few words, a woman who's only job is to entertain guests. In order to become one, they have to meet multiple qualities: beauty, grace, artistic skills, charm, refinement and perfect etiquette.
Those women who are wishing to became a geisha have to take intense training in various japanese traditional domains, aslike ancient dancing, singing and playing different musical instruments; they also have to master the traditional flower arrangement tehnique, Ikebana, the tea ceremony, japanese calligraphy, conversation, manners and much more. Nowdays, Geishas are very well adapted to the modern way of living and many of them are studying English and even how to use personal computers.

The process of becaming a Geisha is quite difficult and it is a long term endeavour.
The conductress of a tea house discusses with the girl wanting to became a geisha and also with her parents. If the candidate is accepted after these preliminary talks, she will start living together with her matron immediately begin special training. Once the girl enters into the tea house she will not be able to leave this place in the next 4 or 5 years. By tradition, girls begin training at an early age. During childhood they are working as servants and carry on various household tasks. This stage is called shikomi. Once the wannabe geisha becomes expert in all required arts of this profession, she has to sustain a very difficult dancing exam. If she is successful she moves to the second stage of the long term training, that being minarai. During this period they continue focussing on studying arts, without carring on with household duties. After a few years, when it's considered they mastered all the required knowledge, they enter for a month in the tea house where they practice the arts of conversation and playing, which are impossible to learn just in theory. After this period of intense learning she will became a young geisha, or Maiko in japanese. This usually hapens when the girls are around 19 or 20 years old.
There are two types of geishas: Tachikata, her main skill being the traditional dancing- mai, and jikata, expert in singing or playing an instrument. Usually tachikata are the younger geishas, maiko-s, while jikata are the older geishas.
Geishas are usually hired to attend all sorts of feasts, inside tea houses or traditional japanese restaurants. There is a signifiant confusion regarding geishas, especially in the Western world, where these delicate creatures have been perceived as prostitutes. Confusion was created by real professional japanese prostitutes, who were using the image of geisha in order to raise their popularity.

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