Terminologies – Geisha, Geiko, Maiko?

To gentlemen who are less familiar with the Geisha world, I’m very glad to be the one introducing it to you:

Geisha (芸者) is a general term for Geiko (芸子) – traditional female “art performers” who entertain patrons at banquets through dancing, drinking, games and conversations.

Maiko (舞妓) refers to Geiko apprentices – trainees from the age of 15 to 25 who go through a 5-year training and eventually become Geiko.

This profession is the modern embodiment of traditional arts, etiquette and lifestyle. Before becoming a Geiko, Maiko must pass a series of exams at the end of their 5-year training on singing, dancing, tea ceremony, flower arrangement, music instruments and etiquette. Only when they pass all the exams, can they officially become Geiko.

In my private banquet, I’ll come to you as your private Maiko.

There are 5 Hanamachi (Geisha districts) in Kyoto:

  • 祗園甲部・Gion Koubu
  • 祇園東・Gion Higashi
  • 宮川町・Miyagawa-cho
  • 先斗町・Ponto-cho
  • 上七軒・Kami Shichiken

Due to privacy reasons, I can’t publish my experience involving the Hanamachi on here, but I’m happy to share with you in person about their stories, specialities, dance schools and cultures.

Behind the glamorous lifestyle where a hair ornament can cost hundreds of dollars, this profession itself is built on clients’ patronage and Geisha’s hard work that includes long-hour training, competition and absolute disciplines.

Despite the common misunderstanding, Geisha are not sex workers.

Read more about this profession and my career choice here and how are Geisha different from traditional Japanese courtesans here.

 

Until we meet…
Yuko