, also known as geiko
, are traditional Japanese female entertainers whose skills include traditional music and dance, fine conversation, and tea ceremony. Geisha are easily recognizable by their hairstyle, their elaborate kimonos
and their white make-up. Geisha who have not yet completed their training are called maiko
("dancer child"), and tend to be more colorfully arrayed than their adult counterparts, with different hair pieces for each month, and different styles for her levels of apprenticeship. A young maiko is supported by her onee-san
(big sister) and when she fully graduates, she will be a single entertainer/businesswoman.
The role of the geisha has for a long time been seen as mysterious, secretive, and alluring. Contrary to what some might say, geisha are not
prostitutes (that woud be yuujo
or "pleasure women", of which the top tier were the famous oiran
of ukiyo-e fame. Prostitution as such was abolished in Japan in 1956), but rather are artists, party hostesses and professional conversationalists, with stage names and distinct personal lives. Before WWII
, geisha could be employed as professional mistresses, but sex is permanently off the menu these days. That hasn't stopped them from being prime Fetish Fuel
It is interesting to consider that prior to Schoolgirl
character types, geisha were considered the archetype of Japanese femininity, and as such, the term "Yamato Nadeshiko
" could be applied to them.
Provide examples of:
- But Not Too White: For Japanese men, geishas ringingly defy this stereotype. In fact, the white paint itself is Fetish Fuel.
- Femme Fatale: Often play the part in Japanese tales and older literature, but not to the extent that the "castle-topper" oiran did in theatre plays
- Gorgeous Period Dress: Their costume is an obsolete style, and quite a deal more showy than the modern fashions
- Kimono Fan Service: The style they wear screams "teh sexx" in Kimonese
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Black hair, white make-up, bright red lipstick
- Training from Hell: They undergo demanding training, and some works like to exaggerate it
- Yamato Nadeshiko: The very idea of geiko is to be as pleasant company as possible to a male Japanese audience, so if a geiko isn't a Yamato Nadeshiko in her private life, her business self will still be one.
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Anime And Manga
- Mademoiselle Butterfly
- In Zodiac PI, the mystery revolving around Gemini focuses on a pair of twins (of course) who are also maiko. The solution to the mystery is that one of the twins was wearing the wrong headpiece for the particular month — she had used the headpiece to stab the man who was stalking her, and could no longer use it.
- Erika from Pokemon Red And Blue resembles this a bit, in the Pokémon anime she even dressed like a Geisha at a few points.
- Hotaru Enjouji from Kizuna was this in the past.
- Kichiji from Haikara San Ga Tooru.
- The Twilight Samurai.
- Because Chamberlain Ooishi spent two years partying in the pleasure quarters for cover, any version of the story of The 47 Ronin will show some geisha and prostitutes.
- Quite a few American movies of the 50s and 60s would show some geisha for exotic fanservice: from My Geisha with Shirley Mc Laine undergoing a geiko henshin to re-seduce her fiance to The Geisha Boy with Jerry Lewis (not as a geisha, thank goodness) to The Teahouse of the August Moon with Machiko Kyo as the geisha "Lotus Blossom".
- In James Clavell's Shogun, Kikuchiyo is a forerunner to a geisha, with a manager, an apprentice, and an exceptional level of refinement at all the arts of entertainment (including that of love). In fact, she is the inspiration for her manager, Gyoko (a now retired entertainer) to suggest to Toranaga a class of women exclusively for the performing arts.
- Memoirs of a Geisha and its film adaption tells the story of Chiyo, a little girl whose dirt poor family sells her in order to make ends meet. Some of her companions in fate end up being sold to brothels, but the pretty Chiyo is lucky enought to be bought into a geisha house to be a servant, and later, if she proves worthy, an apprentice, thus becoming the famous geisha Sayuri. Despite the fact the book gives the impression of being a biography and based on real life, it's pure fiction and contains its share of inaccuracies. The one most aficinados would name first would be the auctioning of the virginity of maikos about to graduate into geikos.
- In fact, the book was "inspired" in the life of a real life geisha named Mineko Iwasaki. Iwasaki got so upset at the author, Arthur Golden, that she sued him and then wrote her own book (Geisha of Gion) to counter all the fictionalization.
- The cover of Kiss's 1977 album Love Gun is a painting of the band members standing at the entrance to what looks like a Greco-Roman temple, and on the steps just below them are several scantily-clad women in whiteface who could possibly be geishas, although they have long hair and are not wearing kimonos. In fact, given that Gene Simmons's "demon" makeup is directly inspired by kabuki theatre, and the massive popularity Kiss have enjoyed in Japan since their earliest days, that could very well be what these women are.
- Averted: Cio-Cio San in Madame Butterfly may look like a geisha, but isn't: she still lives with her family (a geisha would live in a geisha house) and is getting married, which in real life geisha are not allowed to do unless they retire.
- Yum-Yum, Peep-Bo and Pitti-Sing are three Maiko (apprentice Geisha) in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Mikado. The work is far from being accurate, and many productions play it Up to Eleven, making these characters a pile of anachronisms and inaccuracies.
- In Pacific Overtures, the number "Pretty Lady" is sung to a pretty Japanese girl whom the three sailors can't figure out if she's a geisha or not.
- Portrayed pretty accurately in The Teahouse of the August Moon, with Sakini specifically explaining to Capt. Frisby that Lotus Blossom is not a High-Class Call Girl but provides entertainment, conversation, and companionship.
- Pokémon SoulSilver and Heart Gold features six Geisha (called "kimono girls" in the English version) who the protagonist meets though his or her journey, cumulating in an event where they use a dance ceremony to summon Lugia or Ho-oh depending on the version. (Who you have to try to tame.)
- Can be trained by daimyo in the two Total War games set in feudal Japan. They're pretty far up the tech tree, but if you get them they are excellent at assassinating targets - unlike ninjas their presence in a province is known to your target, but they cannot be openly killed because that would be considered dishonorable (the only ways to get rid of the threat is to either sic a ninja or send a geisha of your own for a Mutual Kill).
- Yakkohan from GENCO's Charawood shorts is about two journeying tofu-shaped maiko sisters.
- Yumi's Lyoko form in Code Lyoko seems to be based at least in part on that of a Geisha, altered into that of an Action Girl. (Until the fourth season where Jeremie's upgrade makes her look more like a Ninja.)