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Geisha [geːʃa] (Japanese芸 者 “person of the arts”) is a Japanese entertainer who presents traditional Japanese arts.
The term geisha, composed of gei (芸, art or arts) and sha (者, person), comes from the Tokyo dialect and was taken from it into the European languages. The high Japanese knows the term geigi (芸 妓, artist) in the Kansai dialect they are called geiko (芸 子, child / girl of art). A geisha in training said in Tokyo uahangyoku (半 玉, half-jewel) or oshaku (雏 妓) and in Kyoto maiko (舞 妓, dancing girls).
The main centers of culture Geisha are Kyoto, Osaka, and Tokyo, where they first appeared in the 17th century. From the beginning, geisha were men – kabuki actors and musicians, but then only women began to represent this profession. “Golden age” of the geisha is considered the 19th century. In those days, they were the real stars, the Muses for many poets and artists. At the same time, rigid traditions of their art were formed and remained virtually unchanged since that time and until the present day.
It was period when the Japanese women were given only two places in society: family hearth or brothel – Geisha pointed the way to a beautiful “flower and willow world” ( Jap.花柳 界karyu-kai ), in which they managed to become an aristocrat. The way of their life was quite clear: the majority of their time, they, especially before the Second World War, they were residents of urban areas called hanamati (Jap.花街 – City of Flowers). The most famous of these districts is considered Gion and Ponto-to, based in Kyoto.
The hard basic training of a maiko (geisha apprentices) began traditionally in six years, six months and six days, so at the 2190th or 2191st day of life, and then usually took five years. During this time they learn the basics of traditional Japanese arts such as calligraphy and the game on several Japanese musical instruments, for example, shamisen (lute), Fue (flute) and Tsuzumi (hand drum ). A geisha had also to be practiced in conversation and a perfect singer, dancer, hostess, and master of the tea ceremony. The high cost of education was borne by the owners of the okiya and must be repaid by the geishas later. Many geishas practiced their profession into old age.
To be successful, a geisha must be graceful, charming, educated, witty, and beautiful. She must also know the rules of etiquette properly and be able to maintain posture at every opportunity.
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