Discontinued, Limited Supply Available!
Interior: Shamisen - 3 stringed lutelike instrument played by geisha
Geisha Concisus Genus
Geisha are traditional Japanese entertainers. The word consists of two kanji - (gei) meaning "art" and (sha) meaning "person" or "doer". Like all Japanese nouns, there are no distinct singular or plural variants. The most direct translation of geisha is "performing artist". Geisha were originally men, who served a purpose much like travelling minstrels of medieval Europe. As the number of males studying the arts declined, females took over. Most geisha lived in a house called an okiya, owned by a woman who was typically a former geisha. Geisha attended local schools that specialized in every area of training: music, dance, poetry and tea ceremony. As young girls approached apprenticeship age, the okiya would negotiate for a mature geisha to become a mentor. The “older sister” helped promote the apprentice and taught her the art of entertaining, from how to make witty conversation to how to pour sake. Their clothing was made up of several layers of kimono and undergarments, as many as 15, and an obi or sash was worn around the waste and tied in back. Dressing could take over an hour, even with professional help. A popular view of geisha is that they were prostitutes. During the Edo period, courtesans, known as oiran, wore elaborate hairstyles and white makeup like geisha, but they tied their obi in front, an important distinction. Geisha were, first and foremost, entertainers. They attended parties, playing drinking games with the men, dancing and singing. A geisha’s presence was considered essential to the success of a party. Several geisha meant the host was of great wealth and status. Some geisha had a personal patron or danna. The danna was a wealthy man who could afford to pay the geisha’s expenses for school, lessons, private recitals and even clothing. With a wealthy danna, a geisha could afford to break with an okiya and live independently. Today, young women who want to become geisha begin their training after completing junior high or high school or even college, with many starting in adulthood. Geisha still study traditional instruments like the shamisen, shakuhachi, flute and drums, as well as traditional dance, tea ceremony, literature and poetry. In the 1920s there were over 80,000 geisha, but now there are far fewer. The exact number is unknown, but it is estimated between 1000 and 2000, with Kyoto maintaining the strongest geisha tradition.