[[quoteright:299:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Omotenashi-Geisha-Tokyo-Japan_6698.jpg]]

''Geisha'', also known as ''geiko'' or ''geiki'', are traditional Japanese female entertainers whose skills include music and dance, fine conversation, and tea ceremony. Geisha are easily recognizable by their hairstyle, their elaborate {{kimono}} and their white make-up. Geisha who have not yet completed their training are called ''maiko'' ("dancing girl"), and tend to be more colorfully arrayed than their adult counterparts, with different hair pieces for each month, and different styles according to the level of apprenticeship. A young maiko is apprenticed to an ''onee-san'' (big sister), a fully-fledged geisha whom she assists, resides with, and learns from.

For a long time the role of the geisha has been seen as mysterious, exotic, and alluring. Contrary to popular belief, geisha are '''not''' prostitutes (that would be ''yuujo'' or "pleasure women", of which the top tier were the famous ''oiran'' or ''tayuu''; prostitution as such was abolished in Japan in 1956), but rather artists, party hostesses and professional conversationalists, with stage names and distinct personal lives. Before [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII WWII]], geisha could be employed as professional mistresses, but sex with customers is off the menu these days. That hasn't stopped them from being prime FetishFuel material.

It is interesting to consider that prior to [[JoshiKousei Schoolgirl]] or [[{{Meido}} Maid]] characters, geisha were considered the archetype of Japanese femininity, and as such, the term "YamatoNadeshiko" could be applied to them.

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'''Provide examples of:'''
* FemmeFatale: Often play the part in Japanese tales and older literature, but not to the extent that the "castle-topper" oiran did in theatre plays
* GorgeousPeriodDress: Their costume is an obsolete style, and quite a deal more showy than the modern fashions
* KimonoFanService: The style they wear screams "teh sexx" in Kimonese
* RavenHairIvorySkin: Black hair, white make-up, bright red lipstick
* TrainingFromHell: They undergo demanding training, and some works like to exaggerate it
* YamatoNadeshiko: The image of a demure and shy Nadeshiko is the Japanese ideal of a ''wife'', whose domain is the hearth. Geisha aren't wives, so their talkative, flirty and unabashed attitude at a banquet is the opposite of that. The stereotype of geisha as servile doormats is mostly Orientalist fantasy, their obsequiousness stops at pouring sake for the guests (which they unload to the maiko, who as learn-by-seeing apprentices can't do a lot more than pouring sake and looking pretty).
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!! Examples:

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[[folder:AnimeAndManga]]
* ''Manga/MademoiselleButterfly''
* In ''Manga/ZodiacPI'', the mystery revolving around Gemini focuses on a pair of twins (of course) who are also ''maiko.'' The solution to the mystery is that [[spoiler: 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 ''VideoGame/PokemonRedAndBlue'' resembles this a bit, in the ''{{Anime/Pokemon}}'' anime she even dressed like a Geisha at a few points.
* [[spoiler: Hotaru Enjouji]] from ''Manga/{{Kizuna}}'' was this in the past.
* Kichiji from ''Manga/HaikaraSanGaTooru''.
* [[spoiler:Satsuki]] from ''Manga/ThermaeRomae'' is a part-time onsen geisha (like her mother was) and does traditional dances for the inn guests.
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[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/TheTwilightSamurai.''
* Because Chamberlain Ooishi spent two years partying in the pleasure quarters for cover, any version of the story of ''The47Ronin'' 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 McLaine 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 ''Film/GinzaCosmetics'', Yukiko used to be one, and she still dresses the part, and her date with Ishikawa reveals that she still has the gift for intelligent conversation. But she has fallen on hard times and has long since become a lower-rent bar girl and prostitute.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* In James Clavell's ''Literature/{{Shogun}},'' Kikuchiyo is a forerunner to a geisha, with a manager, an apprentice, and an exceptional level of refinement in all the entertainment arts (including that of love). In fact, she is the inspiration for her manager, Gyoko (a now retired entertainer) to suggest to [[MagnificentBastard Toranaga]] a class of women exclusively for the performing arts.
* ''Literature/MemoirsOfAGeisha'' 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 aficionados would name first is the auctioning of the virginity of maiko about to graduate as geiko.
** In fact, the book was "inspired" in the life of a real life geisha named [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mineko_Iwasaki 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.
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[[folder:Music]]
* The cover of {{Kiss}}'s 1977 album ''Love Gun'' is a painting of the band members standing at the entrance to what looks like [[AncientGrome a Greco-Roman temple]], and on the steps just below them are several scantily-clad women in whiteface who could possibly be geisha, 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 [[GermansLoveDavidHasselhoff the massive popularity Kiss have enjoyed in Japan since their earliest days]], that could very well be what these women are.
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[[folder:Theater]]
* Averted: Cio-Cio San in ''Theatre/MadameButterfly'' 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 Creator/GilbertAndSullivan's ''Theatre/TheMikado.'' The work is far from being accurate, and many productions play it UpToEleven, making these characters a pile of anachronisms and inaccuracies.
* In ''Theatre/PacificOvertures'', the number "Pretty Lady" is sung to a pretty Japanese girl whom the three sailors can't figure out is a geisha or not.
* Portrayed pretty accurately in ''Theatre/TheTeahouseOfTheAugustMoon'', with Sakini specifically explaining to Capt. Frisby that Lotus Blossom is not a HighClassCallGirl but provides entertainment, conversation, and companionship.
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[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/PokemonSoulSilver'' and ''[[VideoGame/PokemonHeartGold 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 ''VideoGame/ShogunTotalWar'' and ''VideoGame/TotalWarShogun2'' games. 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 MutualKill).
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[[folder:Web Animation]]
* ''[[http://www.watchme.tv/u2/?uid=619427579e7b067421f6aa89d4a8990c Yakkohan]]'' from GENCO's Charawood shorts is about two journeying tofu-shaped maiko sisters.
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[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Yumi's Lyoko form in ''WesternAnimation/CodeLyoko'' seems to be based at least in part on that of a Geisha, altered into that of an ActionGirl. (Until the fourth season where Jeremie's upgrade makes her look more like a Ninja.)
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