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Life inside the Flower and Willow World

Becoming a geisha In my geisha house I will be taking a new hangyoku (maiko) trainee in this month. What kind of girls become geisha trainees in this day and age? Usually they are girls who are attracted by the Japanese arts: girls who like kimono and who would like to learn Japanese dance. But recently I get applicants who have lived or travelled overseas and found themselves unable to answer questions about Japan, and who then start to realise that they have little understanding of their own country’s traditional culture.   I would like my trainees to know some English or at least be interested in learning, and who […]

What do geisha do?

  There are all kinds of misconceptions about what a geisha is and what she does. Geisha are traditional entertainers. “Gei” means “art” in Japanese and literally means “person of art”. We are dancers and musicians, much like opera singers or ballet dancers. Geisha also perform on the big stage. Usually each district has a large performance once a year: a big production featuring different music and dance each time and coordinated with the help of all the music and dance teachers that teach the geisha. But most geisha entertainment is private. We go to tea-houses where customers have dinner, and sit with the customers during their meal, performing for just half […]