"Geisha-the embodiment of all that is mysterious, exotic, charming, in a word, a butterfly, which by chance or miracle strayed and took human form. Geisha consists of two characters-"gei" - "art" and "sha" - "person". It is not difficult to guess that when speaking of the geisha, we mean the artist, a man of art. As the Japanese see it, and so she sees herself, which, according to the principle of understanding the test culture in its own terms, we should also be the starting point. An appropriate understanding of the mentality and customs of the Country of Cherry Blossom is also a kind of alien matter of honor, its inhabitants are known for their belief that the human mind of the West is far too little complicated to understand the full subtlety and refined culture of Japan.
When European speak about geisha, his face appears in the specific expression of fascination, combined with embarrassment, related discussions about things at least a little obscene, a bit embarrassing, and therefore, very interesting. You have to ask yourself two questions. The first of these is as follows: Who is a geisha? The second refers to it directly: if we can say who is a geisha, not to exceed the European way of thinking? And only the latter question, the answer is simple and unambiguous: unfortunately, this is completely impossible, and any such attempt is doomed to failure. Geisha is a product of Japanese culture and history, which represents the past in the present, and is sometimes regarded as the guardian of tradition. It can?t be understood without at least try to delve into Japanese history and understanding of Japanese mentality.
Tokugawa epoch. The time at which the culture of Japan flourished. Reliable merchants, exemplary fathers of families, there are moments of respite in the colorful entertainment districts, such as Yoshiwara in Edo, Shimaban in Kyoto, Shimmadi in Osaka. There you can meet a lady in a beautiful, colorful kimono, characteristically makeup. This is not a geisha, but an and oiran-luxury courtesan, who, in addition to her charms, offers customers a common rant of poetry and shows off dancing skills. Its beautiful obi is tied at the front, just like all other women practitioners of the oldest (the gravedigger, as we know from the time of Shakespeare's "Hamlet"), profession of the world. In addition to the prostitutes and courtesans, closed areas in the world can meet different artists, fascinated by it difficult to describe, elusive magic and clients from different social strata. For artists can include geisha. The difference between the geishas at the end of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century and those today is essential, in those distant times geisha profession was reserved for men. In the eighteenth century will geisha-women so well accepted that even in the early nineteenth-century feminization of the profession is becoming a reality.
Closed areas, in addition to access to entertainment at various levels, offer something else. Former "world upside-down." Locked in it (quite literally, did not have the freedom of movement around the city), women do not resemble the Japanese wives. Earning your own life, broadly understood, attractiveness, not only have to look like the nicest, most interesting and colorful, and moreover there were also limited "program ignorance, to some extent adopted in Japan as a Confucian country (in the first half of the twentieth century a director of schools for girls, the need for European language learning explained by the fact that ... would be undesirable situation in which the wife, dusting shelves, would put her husband's book upside down).
The role of the geisha-first man, then, over the years, more and more women were improving quality time for tearoom customers, initially mainly play a musical instrument, while you were waiting for the arrival of a courtesan. With the advent of the geisha's role ended. Geisha women could not compete with local competition of prostitutes. Able to move freely around the city, and their obi was tied in the back. Required from them more modest clothing, and their responsibilities are clearly defined (in the middle of the eighteenth century geisha were banned from intimate contacts with customers).
They were not allowed to wear kimonos as splendid as those that consist of a courtesan, and their hair had to be less and have less elaborate ornaments. In 1868 there was a coup, known as the Meiji restaurant. It was prepared in part from the tranquil tea houses. In the Meiji era geisha become models of elegance for all women who are interested in Japanese fashion. It came from them new ways to wear a kimono, they thought out new color themes - embodied the ideal of life, were the arts and works of art simultaneously. In the twenties and thirties of the twentieth century, when Japan eagerly opened up to Western standards, geisha first appeared in European dress. Very quickly, however, realize that it's rooted in Japanese tradition, much older than the institution of geisha, lies their uniqueness. Since then, appear to be the ambassador of history. Their art goes far beyond what "art" used to call the Europeans. Although without much difficulty because we classify as an artistic activity of dancing, singing and playing instruments and calligraphy, the art of stacking and wearing a kimono and tea ceremony may seem to us somewhat exotic. In the event the geisha is even more complicated. All the elements, ranging from hard-to-acquire skills such as traditional dance and art of tea ceremony, through the artistry of makeup and wearing a kimono, and everyone learned a gesture of the hand, create artwork, the ideal embodiment of life. The presence of geisha provides a unique atmosphere, unique to the extent that people are willing to pay for it truly exorbitant price.
Once geisha clients were mainly very wealthy Japanese men, looking for quality entertainment. There was no opposition between geisha and his wife, because their area of operations did not even touch. Sakutaro Hagiwara described it as follows: "Our wives are totally absorbed kitchen and children, our conversations with them are quiet, serious nature and concern matters generally relating to driving home. Meanwhile, men need a companion radically different type: a woman with whom you can talk about the problems of the world, about art and views. We need someone who is interesting, well-read, educated. These are what should be a geisha. " Currently, many companies who care about prestige, invites the geisha on meetings and banquets.
Geisha profession has long been the way to a much greater autonomy than that which provided for strict moral standards. A woman who opt for such a life, she had to remain unmarried (so to this day, not only in this profession, many Japanese women who want to lead a life of creative and independent, did not decide to start a family). In addition to this requirement, her personal life remained dependent on it. Sometimes (and sometimes still is) that a woman, being a geisha, decides to marry - she must then retire. It may, however, so far remain unmarried, to continue it successfully for many years, because in this case, age is not important - primarily her skills are valued, and are therefore among the geisha true "veteran", a woman after seventy years of age. Daily practice can achieve an even higher level of perfection. Life geisha involves continuous learning, gaining new skills and develop those already acquired. In addition to dancing, singing and playing the instrument, it must be an expert in tea ceremony, which can last up to five hours, and every detail is important. Despite the undoubted skill, geisha is primarily what Fiona Graham (first white woman who was geisha, in the context of anthropological research -www.sayuki.net) described as an "entertainer." Her artistic skills are the intellectual entertainment of customers. Geisha is to be refined, pleasant and fascinating company. It must therefore have a number of non-artistic skills such as good knowledge of the different dialects of Japanese and Japanese-language literature. It is also good if she knows a foreign language. Due to the fact that the group that can afford her company, is an elite-politicians and businessmen, public figures often-it must be perfectly familiar with the current events, have an impressive knowledge of politics and economy, and furthermore, is obliged to keep a secret. The true geisha is not never reveal, with whom and on what subjects spoke during the meeting. Normally shrouded in secrecy is also her own age. Despite the difficulties encountered in its path geisha, the profession in the era of fashion returning to what is indigenous, some young girls seems to be attractive. After high school, many a one decides to start his adventure with traditional Japanese culture and go hard science, representing the gateway to the hermetic world of geisha. This profession is not a bad choice, carries a very specific financial benefits can be achieved independence. Besides, wearing a fabulously expensive outfits, many of which is a true work of art, looks like from another era, love it-looks have something very attractive for a young woman who looks her way.
So who is a geisha? Ethereal essence, the interest of a hard woman, an artist, a coquette, who moves, putting small kroczki, would represent one of the many professional groups, someone who sells an illusion, an expert from the traditional Japanese art, a relic of history ...? Most likely, all these terms fit into any aspect of its business, and you can still give dozens of other equally relevant. ... Geisha is, quite simply, a unique product of Japanese culture, deeply rooted in the local tradition. It is surrounded by an aura of mystery and perhaps even more, if that is ... "
-Ruth Benedict's "Chrysanthemum and the sword patterns of Japanese culture,"
Okazaki-Krystyna: "Women and men in Japan-part action zones" [in:] "Being a woman in the Orient," edited by D. Chmielowska, B. Grabowska, E. Machut-Mendecka,
-Dorothy Halas, "Life in Tokyo"
-Ursula Richter: "Smile geisha"
-Paul Varley: Japanese Culture "(p. 199-200)
-Edwin O. Reischauer, "The Japanese today" (p. 74)
-Jolanta Tubielewicz: "History of Japan" (p. 312 -)
- "Home Grown geisha" [in:] "Women's Weekly", February 2008,
- "The first foreign geisha" [in:] The Independent, 24 January 2008
- "I'm the first Western geisha" [in:] "Look", 18 February 2008.