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art of geisha

Geisha: The Artist of Beauty & Perfection

Although often misunderstood by the Western world, Geisha are not prostitutes. In fact, the Japanese word Geisha literally means “art person” or “artist.”

With origins dating back thousands of years, the first Geisha were, in fact, men. At the time of their appearance (around early 1600’s), Geisha were men who entertained at parties and whose sole purpose was to make the guests laugh. They were not yet called geisha, but instead were something like jesters (hokan), drum-bearers (taiko-mochi) as they frequently played music, and all-around performers.

It was not until the 1800’s that female geisha began appearing and men geisha completely disappearing.

Female geisha were trained in traditional Japanese song and dance, played musical instruments such as the shamisen, wearing kimono, the art of conversation, Japanese tea ceremony, serving alcohol such as sake, and the art of calligraphy. Even today, geisha exist, learning the same traditions as their predecessors although with more modern adaptations such as computer skills and English to entertain foreign guests.

Although much about the inside workings of the lives of geisha in the past and present remains a mystery, this much holds true: geisha were women meant to be walking and talking works of art. Their goal of pure perfection through learning the arts and exuding nothing but elegance, grace and poise has fascinated much of the world for centuries.