Historically in Japan, women had been known for being submissive and obedient, with no active involvement in political life, they didn’t had voice or even were available to know what’s was going on, except for the geishas (or geikos). This women who had been existed since 17th century had ruled the city of Kyoto, the society of geishas is one of a kind in Japan, it’s a completely women’s world, ruled by women without the intromission of men.
Geisha means “artist”, a Geisha is a woman that a man can hire to make him company at night and the most important, rarely involves sex. Although in some cases they sold their virginity to the highest bidder. Very young they learn traditional activities like singing, dancing, music, ceremonies, etc. These activities are the same with that they entertain the men who pay for their services.
The geisha business is run by women only for men. Actually, they have their own structure. The highest level into geisha house (okiya) is occupied by the mother geisha. She is the one who provides all the necessity. In return geishas receive a modest salary because what they earn is for the mother geisha to maintain the expenses of the geisha’s education and financial support. They need five years to be prepared and to be considered like a geisha.
First they start like a “shikomi”, during this phase they had to do housekeeping. Then they were converted in “minarai” who is an apprentice geisha. They learn watching to the others geishas. Also they must have a mentor who is a geisha; this girl is called onee-san and is responsible to bring the minarai girl at the ozashiki. Ozashiki is a banquet where the minarai observe how is the work. After learn watching and the tea practices they are called “maiko”. Now they learn everything about dancing but this stage can be largest because is not just dancing also they learn casual conversation, how play samisen (musical instrument), serving tea and more. Maiko must wait to be an experiment geisha because they abilities have to be impeccable. The okiyas are in a special district of Kyoto called hanamashi
Now the appearance of maiko and the geisha is not the same. Maiko’s make up consist in a white base, red lipstick and little black line around the eyes. With the white base they cover so many superior parts such as face and neck but they also have un-makeup areas behind of neck. This action has an erotic meaning and creates the illusion of a mask. Also with the pass of time the makeup tends to be light more casual.
The most traditional hairstyle is shimada hairstyle. But a maiko has five different hairstyles during her training: wareshinobu, ofuku, sakkou, katsuyama and yakko-shimada. The last two are for special occasions and the principal accessories are haircombs and hairpins. Also is important to mention that if the haircombs are large and so ornate the woman with this hairstyle is from a higher class but then small haircombs was more common because at the beginning they use their natural hair and was very important to have the perfect hair. Now the some girls use wigs and other still they own hair.
The characteristic way to wear is with a kimono. A good kimono is synonymous of elegance so a geisha with a beautiful kimono is considered as an elegant and with a high level. The kimonos are colorful and extravagant; also they are accompanied by an obi at the waist. The style and color depends on the event and the season of year. For example black is for special occasions like New Year, pink with flowers is for summer, orange is for autumn and green should be used in winter. Actually, they are so expensive because are made of silk, painted and embroidering so they are finished in 3 year proximately. But a Geisha needs least two dozen. The other accessory is the Obi, a kind of silk belt with a support function for the back. And like shoes they also have their own style. Footwear is a flat-soled sandal with a tabi (a kind of white sock), his sandals make the kimono is not contaminated. This type of dress is so heavy. Therefore they have to walk with short steps.
“In her formal wear, a geisha showed the narrow white collar of her undergarment under a monochrome kimono with crest. A kimono fashion that had already developed in those days, with an elegant decorative pattern painted or embroidered only on the front panel of the skirt and sometimes at one shoulder of monochrome silk kimono…”