Geisha means "art" and "person" and therefore "person skilled in fine arts, in fine manners". The beauty of this culture is nothing more than a further manifestation of femininity through the fluid movement of fans and umbrellas.
We often hear about geisha and maiko together, but not everyone is clear about the difference. The maiko is the apprentice geisha: she is aged between 15-16 and 20 and her appearance is very different from that of the professional geisha.
She wears a kimono with much more gaudy colors, painted with particularly elaborate patterns and a long belt, the “hikizuri”, which hangs at the back like a dovetail.
The makeup of the maiko is also more elaborate: in addition to sprinkling their face with white powder, the apprentices paint the corner of the eyelid red in a design that is somewhat reminiscent of plum petals. In addition, they dye their lips in different ways depending on their "seniority".

Being apprentices, they do not enjoy the privilege of using a wig: their hair is actually styled in the "Shimada mage" once a week, and they are forced to sleep by resting their necks on wooden pillows so as not to ruin their hair.
The maiko wear clogs called “okobo”: they have a very high sole and give them an elegant appearance. The performances of a maiko consist of singing, dancing and playing the shamisen, a traditional Japanese instrument for the participants in banquets and parties. They are to all intents and purposes the helpers of real geishas, ​​who observe to learn their art.
In ancient times, girls devoted themselves to this path from a very young age and in the vast majority of cases it was not their decision. The girls entered an Okiya (置 屋), literally the house of the geisha, and began the long path of studies. The financial agreement with the okiya was often that of not having to spend anything on education, room and board and repaying the large debt that one was going to incur with one's work as a Geisha.
There were also other forms of agreement that allowed an aspiring Geisha to remain independent, buying the kimono herself and living away from the okiya. These girls, called Jimae, only paid a membership fee to work at the okiya.
The matron of the okiya, called okasan, was generally a "retired" geisha who moved on to the administrative side of the profession. Often she decided to adopt daughters (musume) among her maiko to pass on the management of the house. A geisha could also emancipate herself from okiya after paying off all debts and in case she found a patron (danna) wealthy enough to support her financially. In this case the girl could leave the Okiya and go to live elsewhere.
Around the seventh century the saburuko, courtesans whose job was to entertain the noble class, appeared; they were then replaced by the jūyo, upper-town prostitutes most appreciated by the aristocrats. But it is in the Edo period (1603 - 1868) that the birth of the geisha in Japan is traced back: in the beginning it was the men who entertained the guests with dances and songs, but it didn't take long before the women took possession of this profession, exploiting their natural grace in the movements.
The word geisha is formed from the kanji 芸 者, where 芸 indicates art and 者 person; just as her name indicates, the geisha was an expert in the art of entertainment and not a luxury prostitute as she is often depicted in the West. Becoming more and more successful, these female figures definitively replaced the jūyo and, thanks to their growing popularity, neighborhoods were created specifically for them called hanamachi (花街, city of flowers); the customers were mostly businessmen and politicians who gathered in the neighborhood tea rooms to enjoy their company.
The would-be geisha in Japan arrived at the okiya at an early age, often sold by their families to repay their debts, and they also remained there as adults for the entire period in which they practiced the profession, living with other apprentices and geisha. From the very beginning they studied the art of dance, singing and musical instruments such as the shamisen, a three-stringed instrument with a melancholy sound, and the shakuhachi, the bamboo flute; once deemed suitable, the apprentices became maiko (舞 妓, dancing girl) under the guidance of a geisha who acted as their mentor, and obtained a stage name.
The training lasted from three to five years and if passed allowed them to be promoted to geisha in a ceremony called mizuage; however, since it was also a term used for the initiation of prostitutes (causing even more confusion on the figure of the geisha), nowadays the term erikae (襟 替 え, change of collar) is used.
The figure of the geisha was born a man, in fact around the beginning of the sixteenth century, in the entertainment districts: they were also called "hokan" (the equivalent of the court jester) or "taiko mochi" (literally bearer of drums). They, thanks to their light conversation and their comic and musical talent, enlivened the evenings in the clubs of the pleasure districts, where men went mainly to have fun and, if it happened, to end the evening in the bed of a yujo, that is a prostitute.
It was in 1751 that the first taiko-mochi woman appeared in Shimabara, a district of Kyoto; in a few years an increasing number of women entered this profession. At the beginning they were called "onna geisha", that is, a woman geisha; around 1780 women became more numerous than men and after 1800 men were so few that there was no longer any need to specify the sex of the geisha and the term took on the meaning it still has today. In all the main cities of Japan (Kyoto and Tokyo in particular) there were neighborhoods, called hanamachi ("city of flowers") where the ochaya (tea houses) and the okiya (the houses of the geisha) were concentrated in which to enjoy the their talent.
In Kyoto, the various levels of study are also distinguished: during the first year the girls (aged between 15 and 20 years) begin to study the various artistic disciplines, the etiquette, they help the older ones and are called "shikomi". After passing an exam, they become "minarai", they begin to dress and make up according to traditional costumes and accompany the senpai to the evenings to familiarize themselves with work. Finally, there is the real debut that determines the transition to the status of maiko.
In Tokyo, on the other hand, the term "hangyoku" is used which means "half a jewel": the apprentices in fact receive a salary that is about half that of the geisha
Being a geisha is not a job but a lifestyle with many personal sacrifices, including the greatest not being able to marry and not being able to have any romantic relationship. Being a decision to be made at a young age, even their adolescence during the formative years (when one is maiko) is different from that of other girls, all the time is devoted to studying the arts and performing.
Generally speaking, a geisha gets up very early in the morning, spends about an hour putting on make-up and wearing a kimono, and then goes to dance and music lessons. In the afternoon she works in an ochaya (tea room) where she meets customers giving them the TEA CEREMONY, then in the evening she is called to traditional clubs to participate in the ozashiki (geisha party) where she dances, dances and makes conversation.
The appearance of the geisha is very important, she must be perfect. The trick is part of that. The face is made completely white and the lips and eyes red. White makeup is a relic from the days when there were no lamps in the emperor's palace. The artists made all their faces white, with chalk, lime or cyanide, but also with dried droppings of the nightingale, so that the emperor could see them clearly by candlelight. Also, white leather is a status symbol. You could see that you shouldn't have to work outside. So: whiter, richer. As early as 1,500 BC, the peoples of China and Japan made their faces white. They then did so by means of the rice powder.
Once a week, the geisha and maiko hairstyles are made beautiful. A maiko undergoes five different hairstyles during her probationary period. This is to symbolize the steps in his development towards the geisha. A maiko starts with the wareshinobu haircut. Various decorations are placed in the hair, such as: a red silk headband, silver wings, flower that blooms during that month, turtle comb, canoe, canoe hairpin and hairpin in opal, turtle and jade. The transition to a new haircut occurs when the girl has been maiko for about two years. During the mizuage, a ceremony to celebrate the growth of the maiko, the upper curl is symbolically cut. The new hairstyle is called ofuku. On special occasions, the yakko hairstyle is worn in combination with a traditional kimono. And the katsuyama haircut for the month before and after the Gion festival in July. The change of hairstyle marks the final phase of the maiko's career. Clients can see this as a sign that maiko has reached the end of her maiko career.
In the last month as a maiko she has been wearing the sakko hairstyle. By cutting the top curl, the maiko days are over. This can be an exciting time for girls. After the sakko, the geisha maintains the same hairstyle throughout her life as an artist. Wear a wig during performances and performances, because every geisha often has to look the same. The maiko hairstyle, where the hair is tied together at the crown, creates bald spots on the crown. The hairs are held in place by a bamboo pin, which means that the hair roots are constantly under pressure. Due to the itchy scalp, geishas scratch the tip of a hair ornament and this causes the hair to break at the root. After a few years, bald spots appear.
Geishas always wear kimonos. The novice geisha has to work, just to expand her wardrobe. During their career they have therefore lost a considerable amount of money on the purchase of their clothes.
The geisha wears the ribbon in the center, obi, on the back of her back. Due to the difficulty of bonding girls and women often need help getting dressed. The common Japanese has two different kimonos: one for the winter months and one for the summer months. A geisha should wear a different kimono every season and different for every occasion. Each kimono is a work of art and will not be worn unless it is perfect. They are also all unique and are often worn no more than five or six times. Also, wearing a kimono requires a special haircut, footwear, socks and bags.
The neighborhoods where you can meet geishas are called hanamachi, literally translated as the flower district. The district par excellence is Gion in Kyoto, it is an area of ​​the city that still retains characteristic architecture with many ochaya (tea rooms) where geisha work.
To meet one you need to be lucky, they are numerically few and the only way to see them is on the street in the afternoon as they go to the ochayas.


  1. It is said that the color of the cherry blossoms was originally white but that, following the order of an emperor to have the samurai who fell in battle buried under the cherry trees, the petals turned pink for having sucked the blood of those nobles. warriors. Even those who, among the samurai according to their code of honor, decided to commit suicide, it seems they used to do it right under the cherry trees “. The Japanese spring is characterized by the Hanami, the traditional festival of cherry trees in bloom which name derives from “hana” which means “the flowers”, “mi” (miru) which means “to see” hence the literal translation “admire the flowers “, in fact the Japanese in this period can enjoy the beauty of the flowering cherry trees, the sakura. Wonderful valleys in full bloom make the landscape a fairy tale, not for nothing the Hanami festival has ancient traditions, even millenary. There are 60 places famous for their large blooms and within a few days they attract real rivers of people who come to admire the delicacy of these trees. The spectacle of sakura in bloom takes up most of spring and can be admired from early April (in the south of the island of Honshu) until mid-May (in northern Hokkaidō). The party is also an opportunity to get together and have an outdoor picnic based on fresh fish, the famous sushi, accompanied by Japanese beer and sake, to be sipped in the shade of flowering trees. And while drinking under the cherry blossoms, the hope is that a pink petal carried by the wind will plunge into your own cup of sake. During the night the party does not stop, it would be a shame to waste time since the flowering lasts very little, but the party from Hanami becomes Yozakura or “The night of the Cherry”. The sakura that is celebrated does not bear fruit, it is a particular type cultivated solely for its flowers. The beauty of these flowers consists in their eternity, these flowers never wither, the wind scatters them in the skies, disappearing from view still in perfect condition. It is for this reason that the samurai adopted them as a symbol, an eternal youth, without aging, without withering, which is just what they hoped for, that is to have a life that could honorably break (in battle or with seppuku) still in the vigor of the years.
Another version on why the Samurai have adopted the sakura as their symbol, says that it is for their ephemeral beauty, or that when the flowering is at its peak the Japanese already regrets it as it is destined to end very soon, and hence their love for beautiful things that do not last is also born, that passion that makes them fine aesthetes, which grants them the wisdom to enjoy the moment while knowing how close the sunset is, indeed perhaps precisely in function of that. Also for this almost magical characteristic of not withering, for Japanese art and culture, the cherry tree in bloom is the symbol of immortal and perfect beauty, even if so ephemeral. The hometown of Japanese cherry trees is Yoshino, its hills are colored with a warm pale pink: the legend tells that the trees were planted in the 7th century AD, in the Nara period, by the priest En-no-Ozuno, who is said had put a curse on anyone who dared to bring them down. Whatever happened, yamazakura are at the root of hundreds of hybrids subsequently obtained, and have become the Japanese variety par excellence; Empress Jito (645-702) came here to admire its flowering.
Hirosaki Castle is one of the favorite destinations for the party, it is surrounded by 5000 cherry trees, hosts the Cherry Blossom Festival (23 April-5 May) In Tokyo you can visit the Ueno park which, with its thousand trees, is one of the busiest in the city. In Kyoto, the Maruyama park which, with its immense weeping cherry tree, is the favorite destination for hanami parties. In Osaka with the castle park which houses more than 400 cherry trees and the castle lights up at night. In the seventh century, based on the flowering of the cherry trees, the type of harvest was predicted, if the flowering was abundant, then it predicted a good harvest. The tradition began with the upper feudal class, which celebrated under the cherry trees, with an abundance of food and drink. The next century, the working class also began the traditional celebrations. In spring, Japanese cuisine also changes and becomes characteristic. You can taste Dango, a specialty made from rice flour, or Sakura Mochi, a red bean paste wrapped in a cherry leaf.


Life has always taught us ever since we met, that even the most unlikely person would leave us alone, that even the one who has always wanted to face all the battles with you can decide to fight his alone. Who knows, maybe one day we will part too, with the knowledge that we will meet again. All this repetition of abandonment on our journey has made us so detached from people, that they often wonder if we are the evil in this world. If you say that you do so much for someone, in truth you are not doing anything, sincerity is silent, therefore a sincere affection is never a “I have done everything for you and you nothing for me.” It’s sad to know that people think they have to be reciprocated and if you don’t, they make you look guilty and take on the role of the bad guy. So my friend, we are the villains of this generation, so superficial that we blame ourselves for the absence we give them when they start demanding what is not theirs. Perhaps this is the price to pay to prevent this evil from being spread. Nothing is due, everything must be deserved, if someone demands, it makes us repress all kinds of feelings. You and I got in tune to escape this monotony, but maybe in the end, it’s not people’s fault. Maybe it’s just us who are wrong, but brother, when we leave too, remember me, someone who cares about you and who you really love, we who have stained our own wings with black as a sign of our friendship.
Maybe music doesn’t change us up to that point and neither does great art. Rather, it reminds us of who we have always known we are and who we are destined to remain, despite our claims and denials. It reminds us of the milestones that we have buried and hidden and then lost, it reminds us of the people and things that mattered despite our lies, despite the years. Music is nothing more than the sound of our regrets translated into a cadence that stimulates the illusion of pleasure and hope. It is the thing that reminds us most clearly that we are here for a very short period of time and that we have neglected or deceived our lives, or worse still, we have not lived them.
The night is made for memories. It is made of memories. It is made for dreams, for dreams. Of people who are missing, whom you would like to embrace, but you cannot. The night is made to fill with thoughts everything you want, but don’t have. It is made for hidden tears. Of songs. The night is made for romantics. The night is made of shapes that threshold you.
The baby arrived home in tears. Grandpa ran up to him and took him in his arms. The baby continues to sob. Grandpa stroked him, trying to calm him down. “What have you done?” said the grandfather, worried. The child sniffed, then said: «We were playing hide and seek, and I was hiding really well. I was there waiting, but time was passing … At a certain point I went out and … I got upset that they had finished playing and had all gone home and no one had come looking for me ». The singlets shook his small chest. “Do you understand? Nobody came looking for me.”

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