Geisha's and their role
It is important to understand the role of the female entertainer in Japanese culture. That is why the Geisha has a specific role. The geisha is described as a century old professional entertainer the geisha is an important part of traditional Japanese social life. Geisha are masters in the arts, trained in music, calligraphy, Sado (tea ceremony) poetry, conversation and social graces as well as three stringed instruments called Shamisen. They dress in traditional kimonos, stunning in their elegance. Basic wooden geta clogs are worn for footwear, and hair is up in bun type coiffures trimmed with metallic accessories The Japanese character for 'gei' means art or performance and 'sha' means person. Literally translated, geisha means 'a person of the arts or performance'. Following this translation geisha's are professional entertainers, who amuse guests by performing arts. They also prepare and serve drinks, mostly tea, and entertain guests with conversation. To become a geisha in the past you had to be the daughter of geisha. It was also very common that small beautiful girls from poor families were sold to the tea house called O-chaya to start their training to become a geisha. Obviously this practice is not common anymore, but still future geisha's are often trained from the early childhood to achieve high standards for their performances. Even after becoming a geisha, girls keep on taking many lessons to improve their skills.
Once a woman became an apprentice geisha (a maiko) she would begin to accompany senior geisha to the tea houses, parties and banquets that constitute a geisha's work environment. To some extent, this traditional method of training persists, though it is of necessity foreshortened. Modern geisha are no longer bought by or brought into geisha houses as children. Becoming a geisha is now entirely voluntary. Most geisha now begin their training in their late teens.
Contemporary Geisha, though...
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