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Geisha subculture

Geisha girls are a perfect iconic symbol of Japan. It is one of the oldest and mysterious professions in Japan with the history of about 400 years and there are some things you ought to know about this subculture.

The first geisha were men, known as Taikomochi, who were like modern day comedians, but they were quickly replaced by women. Actually Geisha are called differently in diverse regions: in Tokyo they are named Geisha, in Kyoto they are named Geiko, and in other parts of Japan they are known as Geigi. It’s interesting that in the old times girls were either into Geisha culture by birth, or they were adopted from poor families. They couldn’t choose to become Geisha. By the way, there is a deep misunderstanding about Geishas, which arose from films about geishas: they are not prostitutes. They emerged in the 16th century and served community entertaining them in the form of arts.

Portrait of a Maiko geisha in Gion Kyoto

The usual training of a Geisha was about 5 years. At the early age they were called ‘Maiko’ , that means “dancer child”. These trainings cost about $500,000. But Geishas never stop learning, they always attend practice lessons. The oldest Geisha who worked for almost 93 years was Yuko Asakusa. Nowadays foreigners are also allowed to become Geishas.

Yuko Asakusa

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