A geisha is a Japanese female entertainer.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Geisha in the modern era
3 External links


The word geisha literally means 'arts person' or artisan.

The role of Geisha first developed from that of men known as Taikomochi or Houkan, the Japanese equivalent of a court jester. Later, the role came to be principally performed by women.

Geisha were traditionally trained from childhood. Geisha were common in the 18th and 19th centuries, and are still in existence today, although fewer in number. They were skilled entertainers who endured years of hard training, effectively as child slavess. First they worked as maids, and once a woman became an apprentice geisha (maiko) she would begin to learn how to dance, sing, play the shamisen (a stringed instrument similar to the banjo), and in general practice the art of being a geisha.

Geisha were not prostitutes. Although the right to take their virginity ("mizuage") was sold, they were not obliged to have sex with any customers, even the men who bought their virginity. There can be seen to be links between the geisha and the 16th and 17th century actress.

Geisha in the modern era

Modern geisha are no longer sold into slavery, but geisha training remains long and difficult. The practice of mizuage is a thing of the past.

See also:

External links

History of the geisha:
Male counterparts: