Geisha Essay

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Andrea Felton March 2, 2011 SOC 305 Mini Research Japanese Geishas Geisha (芸者 "person of the arts") are traditional Japanese artist-entertainers. The word Geiko is also used to describe such persons. Geisha were very common in the 18th and 19th centuries, and are still in existence today, although their numbers are dwindling. "Geisha," pronounced /ˈgeɪ ʃa/ ("gay-sha") is the most familiar term to English speakers, and the most commonly used within Japan as well, but in the Kansai region the terms geigi and, for apprentice geisha, "Maiko" have also been used since the Meiji Restoration. The term maiko is only used in Kyoto districts. The English pronunciation ˈgi ʃa ("gee-sha") or the phrase "geisha girl," common during the American occupation of Japan, carry connotations of prostitution, as some young women, desperate for money and calling themselves "geisha," sold themselves to American troops. The geisha tradition evolved from the taikomochi or hōkan, similar to court jesters. The first geisha were all male; as women began to take the role they were known as onna geisha (女芸者), or "woman artist (female form)." Geisha today are exclusively female, aside from the Taikomochi. Taikomochi are exceedingly rare. Only three are currently registered in Japan. They tend to be far more bawdy than geisha. Other public figures who contributed to the creation of the modern geisha were Oiran, or courtesans, and Odoriko, dancing girls. The Odoriko in particular influenced geisha to include dance as part of their artistic repertoire. Geisha were traditionally trained from young childhood. Geisha houses often bought young girls from poor families, and took responsibility for raising and training them. During their childhood, apprentice geisha worked first as maids, then as assistants to the house's senior geisha as part of their training and to contribute to the costs of

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