So You Want To Become A Geisha?Mar 11th, 2009 | By Shane Sakata | Category: Kyoto, Lifestyle
A Geisha is a woman trained in the traditional arts of Japan which include dance, song and the playing of musical instruments who must first serve as a Maiko or apprentice Geisha. Maiko training involves a four to five year commitment and a passion for traditional Japanese arts and culture. So is the Geisha lifestyle for you?
Maiko training starts young, between the ages of fifteen and seventeen, and many prospective Geisha don’t complete high school so parental consent is required to enter training.
Are you too tall to be a Geisha? If you stand over 160cm (5 feet 3 inches) you are considered too tall. Maiko wear okobo (wooden platform shoes) that add 10cm (4 inches) to their height.
You can’t be too skinny to be accepted into Maiko training (shikomi) – The kimono and hair accessories worn by a Maiko can weigh up to 10kg (22 pounds) so those participating in Geisha training must weigh at least 43 kg (95 pounds).
Speaking of hair – you must like wigs or learn how to sleep on a high wooden pillow keep your complicated hairstyle in perfect shape. A Maiko’s hair is usually only one once a week and is a time consuming process.
You must have a strong desire to live and learn in a highly traditional and structured Japanese lifestyle. In the Geisha world where everything from the language, mannerisms and personal grooming are different from the rest of Japan. You will learn the fine art of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, how to arrange flowers in the Japanese Style (Ikebana), how to perform ancient Japanese dances and play traditional Japanese musical instruments (shamisen and shakuhachi) with grace and style.
You must love make-up and think the nape of your neck is sexy – during the first three years of Maiko training, traditional heavy white make up highlighted with bright red lips is worm almost constantly. Putting on the make up is time consuming and difficult to do on your own.
After learning all of the requirements to become a Geisha I have a newfound respect for them and hope you will too! Geisha and Maiko are not just beautiful Japanese women in ornate kimonos – they are very talented and poised individuals whose company remains sought after in the higher echelons of Japanese society.
Experience the Geisha Lifestyle
- See Maiko and Geisha perform at Gion Corner in Kyoto.
- Book a Maiko Party in Kyoto
- Dress in a Kimono and visit a shrine in Saitama (just outside Tokyo)
- Experience the Japanese Tea Ceremony and Ikebana in Tokyo
- Visit a Kimono Flea Market in Osaka
- Explore The Nihon Sun A Closer Look Series to learn more about how to experience the traditional Japanese lifestyle in various regions of Japan. You’ll find links to hands on experiences, museums and much more.
Image Credit: Wikimedia, Geisha-kyoto-2004-11-21