Japanese culture is unique in its own ways and has evolved continually over the years. Be it the art of Ikebana, the wonderful sculptures and shrines, or other aspects, such as their architecture and gardens. Everything has a rich past with great significance; one of the many traditions is the Geisha.
Geisha are traditional Japanese female entertainers who are trained as professional singers, dancers, and companions for men. The word “geisha” literally means “art person” or an artist, they are seen as a symbol of culture, grace, and carries with them an air of mystery and intrigue. Here are some interesting facts about Geishas.
The origin of the Geisha dates back to around 1,500 years ago. Some of the girls who had better education in arts made a living out of entertaining at high-class gatherings. Soon after the imperial court moved to Kyoto in 794, the Geisha culture began to emerge rapidly where skilled female performers and dancers thrived.
10 Interesting facts about Geishas:
1) The first Geisha were actually men and were known as ‘Honko’ who would dance for their clients in bars, restaurants, and tea-rooms.
2) The training to become a Geisha is said to be anonymous as it adds an air of mystery to the Geisha, which is part of their mystique.
3) It can take nearly two hours or more for a Geisha to get all ready.
4) It’s not easy to become a Geisha, initially, they are called ‘Maiko’ or apprentice Geisha. In order to become a fully qualified Geisha, they have to undergo extensive training in all the art forms like music and dance and be able to play traditional instruments. Only once they gain a mastery of these skills are they able to become a Geisha.
5) The Kimonos that are designed for Geishas are handmade and are always made of silk. The print changes with the seasons and can take up to three years to manufacture. They also prefer not to wear them more than once.
6) Nowadays, if you see a geisha walking around in traditional white makeup, elaborate hairstyles, and donning an elaborate kimono, chances are that person is still a ‘maiko’, or even a tourist playing dress-up. Fully-trained geishas go largely unseen, as they would dress in understated dresses and wear natural make-up.
7) Present day Geisha continue to reside in traditional Geisha houses known as Okiya, and traditional instruments such as the drums, shakuhachi, and shamisen are still practised today. These geisha houses have a mother called an ‘Oka-san’ who is responsible for taking care of Geishas and providing education and career.
8) Having a traditional geisha hairstyle can cause balding on the top of the head and hence wigs are used. Geishas were also trained to sleep with their necks on small support, instead of pillows, so they could keep their hairstyle perfect.
9) The white face make-up that is worn by Geisha is said to be made with lead and was discovered that it is poisonous in the Meiji era.
10) Geishas are not allowed to be in a relationship and if they decide to get married they must quit being a Geisha.
Find your nearest Asian Store