The material was prepared by ANI MAGUMYAN

Throughout the history, the Japanese have maintained and handed down from generation to generation all the beautiful and typical values, which are important and characteristic of their nation and history.
Every time touching upon this or that sphere of the Japanese culture we are convinced that, the true maintenance of the beauty depends on the nation. This time we will refer to geishas, which is not only interesting but it is also teaching because by hearing the word geisha many people associate it with another phenomenon.
Geisha means “a person of art”. The word consists of two hieroglyphs: gei–talent and sya- person. It became more widely used in Japan since the 17-18-th centuries, but still in the Japanese records of the 14-15th centuries it is mentioned about them. It is noteworthy that until the 18th century only men have been geishas.
Still in the Muromachi era there existed “dobosus”, which is translated as friend. They were good interlocutors: sometimes they even could give advice. They mastered traditional arts and had a good sense of humor, which they used at gatherings. They were one of the most important participants of every gathering.
During that era the samurais considered, that the accompaniment of a woman was not honorable and they preferred to have intellectual talks and to drink sake (rice vodka) with men.
And women geishas appeared only in the 18th century and men geishas gradually lost their positions.
Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo were considered the cultural centers of geishas.
With the appearance of women geishas, there began a new prosperous era and the 19th century was considered the “golden century of geishas”.
Many people consider geishas prostitutes, but this word and its essence are so far from the reality.
Geisha is the image of an ideal woman, the source of inspiration for thousands of warriors and poets.
Geisha is a living masterpiece of the Japanese art.
Each person, who learns or studies the art of becoming a geisha, cannot be considered a geisha. Only the chosen ones can become real geishas, those who are geishas not only by appearance but also by essence.
It takes years to become a geisha.
The girls, who want to become geishas, are admitted to okia. Okia is an institution, where future geishas live and the mistress of which – okami or okasan (it means mother in Japanese) pays for their education.
Girls, who are admitted to okia, are mainly 5-7 years old and who reimburse for their tuition after becoming a geisha. After passing, some of them even after becoming geishas, don’t leave okia and continue to live there. But if the okasan doesn’t have a heir, she can adopt one of the girls.
Future geishas study art in kamburenjo. It is a school, which is envisaged for training geishas. There they learn to play the shamizen and other traditional instruments, they learn traditional Japanese dances, songs, they study the tea ceremony called “tsyado”, the art of making ikebana-flowers and calligraphy.
Here the girls are also taught graceful behavior: for example, how to bow, how to sit, to stand up, to speak, to walk in the floor-length kimono, how to pour sake, in order the sleeves of kimono not to slip into the cup and so on. The girls study all these when they are still maikos that is apprentice geishas.
Before becoming a geisha, maiko finds an elder sister “onesan”, together with whom they drink three sips from the sake cup, after which maiko gets a new name, which is her name as a geisha.
This is an obligatory ritual.
The onesan accompanies her during the gatherings, where she learns how the geishas communicate with men, what kind of talks they give, how they use their knowledge, how they practice women’s craftiness and rejoice the attendees. By means of this onesan introduces maiko to other geishas too and thus maiko makes her debute.The change from maiko into a geisha has a very interesting ritual, which is called eriazh and means “changing the collar”. Maiko changes her red collar into a white firm collar, after which she is officially considered a geisha. The white collar witnesses her purity, harmony, perfection, elegance and intelligence.
This is how a true geisha is supposed to be.
It takes hours for a geisha to be fully prepared for a gathering. Her clothing, hair, make-up, manner, dance, speech, smile, look must be perfect, as she must totally correspond to the men’s image of an ideal woman.
The clothing of geisha is kimono (kimono is a national Japanese clothing).
The Japanese can differentiate a geisha from a prostitute only by her clothing, therefore clothing is of great importance for geishas. The kimono of a geisha differs from an ordinary kimono and it can cost thousands of dollars. The kimono envisaged for geishas embraces her neck (the Japanese consider that women’s most sensitive part of body is her neck).
Each geisha has an assistant to help her to put on her kimono, because it is very hard to put on and rather heavy.
As shoes, they wear high wooden footwear, which are called okobo. There are small bells on okobo, which ring while walking. These shoes also help the kimono not to touch the ground.
As the shoes are high, the height of the girl should be not more than 160cm, for the girl to look nice.
The geishas should have long hair, in order to be possible to fix them.
Their hairdressing consists of more than five different styles, which reflect different stages of their career.
In order to keep the hairdressing, every week they go to a beauty salon and have a specialhair styling. And in order not to spoil the hairdressing during the sleep, they sleep on special pillows, in the middle of which there is a special hole due to which they keep their hairdressing.
There are also special decorations by means of which they fix hair.
In the old times, only geishas used the white make-up, as it was poisonous and was made from lead. Today’s white powder is safe and maikos also can use it.
It turns out that it is possible to differentiate from the lipstick if the girl is a maiko or a geisha. If the red lipstick is put only on the lower lip, it means that the girl is a maiko–an apprentice geisha.
Many people think that eyes are the mirror of human soul and really in human eyes you can find and see much more than in his words.
The last and the most important quality, which the maiko should possess, is the ability to charm every man with one single look (a look, which will be enough for a whole eternity), only after such a look, it is considered that maiko is fully prepared and can make her debute.
The apprentice geisha makes her first steps with onesan.
Together they visit tea-drinking ceremonies, theatre and other important places, where rich men gather.
The onesan specially introduces the maiko, who in her turn must introduce herself in the following way (I am an apprentice geisha please take care of me).
Generally, this is the way, the Japanese greet in case of a new acquaintance.
The apprentice geisha must leave a good impression on everyone: her future career depends on it.
In order to become a geisha it is an obligatory condition for the girl to be an innocent-virgin. This is another evidence that geishas didn’t have sexual relations with the customers. But there are facts in the history, where it is mentioned, that some geishas were selling their virginity. This phenomenon is explained by the fact that in the 20-th century mainly those girls were becoming geishas, whose parents were selling their children because of poverty (which was the result of the war). And actually the orphan girls didn’t have any means to pay the okasan for their training and it was the only means to pay that enormous debt.
The more the apprentice geisha was famous, the higher was the price at which her virginity was sold. This ritual is called mizuage and it mainly took place at the age of 13-15.
After mizuage the geisha changes her hairdressing and as it was mentioned, she changes her red collar into the white one.
After all these, the geisha remained inviolable. She does everything in order to have a danna–a sponsor.
Not every man can become a danna: he must be very rich in order to be able to properly satisfy the geisha.
Generally, geisha is a very expensive pleasure and not every man can afford such a luxury.
Geisha wears an expensive kimono, jewelry, visits expensive places, where her performance, be it a song, a dance, a play, even merely her presence is already a luxury and perhaps it is one of the reasons that for the Japanese men geisha is like a dream–the image of an ideal woman.
If a Japanese is invited to a party, where there are geishas, it is a great honour for him. Being present at such a party is honorable and very important for foreigners too. For them the Asian woman, especially the geisha is a mystery and in many cases geishas help the Japanese in diplomatic affairs with the foreigners.
For everyone geisha is like a celestial creature with her small steps, perfectly fluent manner, inexplicable charm, indescribable feminine sensitivity.
During the years of trainig the geishas study:
1. psychology
2. they develop the creative abilities
3. improve their speech
4. learn one of the phenomena, which is called the art of love
5. and the most important, they master the harmony of soul, mind and speech.
All these is very important for communicating with men, as the geisha must not only enrapture by her outer beauty, for which she prepares for hours, but she must also be just as charming inwardly, which allows her to be the friend of the man and his source for inspiration.
By studying psychology, the geisha masters the ability to understand the person and to perceive his emotional state. It is very important for the man. He feels the companionship of the geisha, who can listen to him without criticizing or interrupting, can understand his emotional state and can give a true advice that is she can be a good friend.
The man knows that what was said to the geisha wouldn’t come off the walls of that room.
By developing the ability to create, during each meeting the geisha can create a beautiful thing, which exceeds the previous one, be it a philosophical speech, making a bunch of flowers, a song or a dance. By means of this, every meeting with her is a new one and without repetition.
The improvement of speech is also very important. The geisha must know how to speak, about what to speak and where to speak. Her speech must be intellectual, prudent and appropriate.
Mastering the art of love is necessary for the geisha as the air we breathe and the water we drink. Each man being next to the geisha must feel himself as the best of the best, he must feel that he is loved and there is nobody except him in whom the geisha can be interested. Next to the geisha he must feel himself a strong man and as the Japanese say, the geisha is for the soul and next to the geisha each man feels himself like a samurai.
The harmony of soul, mind and speech includes all the above mentioned qualities.
This is the secret weapon of the geisha. All that she does, what touches and what she speaks is so natural, there is no artificiality.
And this is geisha’s superior skills to create such an environment. But as many people, geisha is also able to love a person and for one time.
She cannot stay a geisha forever.  Before marriage, she leaves her work as a geisha: she only after this can get married.
In the modern Japan, there are both women and men geishas. They try to maintain the centuries-old traditions of geishas. Modern geishas differ from the old ones and there aren’t many geishas in today’s Japan.
The oldest geisha is 100 years old. Her name is Kokin Sama. 80 years of her life, she has devoted to this art. Until now, she plays the samisen national instrument and sings.
The best-known geisha of the world is Mineko Ivasaki, who is the prototype of the heroine of Arthur Golden’s book “The Memoirs of Geisha”-Sayuri. Also a homonymous film was shot based on this book.
The only foreign geisha is the Australian Fiona Grammy, who had thechance to work as a geisha and to present the West.
The world’s only man geisha lives in Tokyo. His name is Eytaro. His mother was a geisha and after her death, Eytaro decided to continue her work.
The geishas have a history of around 400 years. Many things have been changed throughout the centuries, but the Japanese have carefully preserved what is dear to them and makes part of their history.
Only by appreciating, preserving, delivering without any distortionit is possible to preserveevery beautiful phenomenon for ages.
Being a geisha is a great and complicated art, that is why many of us can only admire from aside and enjoy their presence.

the material is taken from

translated from Armenian into English by M.Vardanyan