Geisha live in a world were grace and refinement are everything, but love is scorned as illusion. Love is very dangerous for a geisha. If a geisha were to fall in love, then her entire career would be ruint. Jealousy, hurt, and yearning would become a way of the geisha's everyday life if she were to be in love. She could not perform well, and the only thing love brought to the geisha was conflict and interference with her clients. Therefore, a geisha was not supposed to date or marry. Instead, geisha lived together in a lifelong sisterhood.
Occasionaly, there was a geisha who would go against her superiors, and she would have an affair. Sometimes their affaris were with clients, or at times, a geisha would just sneak around a casual boyfriend. Once this was revealed to her clients and the rest of society, the geisha was doomed. Marriage was never an answer; the only answer was death. This is where love suicides originated. The geisha and her boyfriend would be rejected from society, so in an act of love they would commit suicide together with the belief that would be together forever in the next world.
Maiko are apprentice geisha who are in training. A maiko must go through five years of intensly studying the arts before she can graduate to become a fully adorned geisha. (To learn more about Japanese arts visithttp://jin.jcic.or.jp/museum/menu.html) All the gestures she learns are very distinctive. Every aspect of their appearance has a symbolic meaning and erotic power. Very prominent and qualified geisha will spend their entire lives studying to master the
arts. The word geisha means, "artist," and many people see geisha as artists. The maiko must master and excel in literature, conversation, dance, and music to become a true geisha. Geisha are of a very select elite, and it shows in their skill of artistry. The most popular instruments for a maiko to study are the drums, flute, and shamisen. (You can learn more about the shaisen at http://www.inv.co.jp/~shammy/homeE.html) The tea ceremony is another skill a maiko has to learn. It is a series of precise, choreographed movements that involves much skill and concentration. There are many rules invovles in the tea ceremony. For example, a geisha must hold her arms as if she has an egg under her armpit. (You can learn more at http://www.holymtn.com/tea/Japanesetea.htm)
To become a geisha, it used to be that your parents kind of sold you into
it. If you were beautiful and your parents or someone introduced
you to the "mother" of a geisha house, and she liked you, then you would
be sold to her. This usually happened between the ages of seven and
The "mother" of the geisha house is everyone's provider. She provides her girls with lodging, food, pays for their lessons, and gives them exquisite kimono to wear. In return, when the maiko has become a geisha, all of the money that she makes will go to the "mother."
The "mother" first starts to make money off of the girls by mizuage. After a maiko has made her appearances in the geisha world, the mizuage is open for bidding. This is the selling of the maiko's virginity to the highest bidder. This relies on the "mother's" vast knowledge of the private lives and desires of clients. Certain men would pay huge sums of money for this pleasure.
Steriotipically, the "mother's" of these geisha households care about one thing, and that one thing is money. The geisha in the house that can bring in the most money can practically do whatever she wants to everyone else in the house except for the "mother." For example, say one geisha brought in large amounts of money, yet she was crude and lied and blamed things on people all the time. The "mother" might know this geisha is lying to get out of things, but she will let her lie and get away with things because the "mother" knows that she needs the money. This only goes to a certain extent though. There are certain things that are still forbidden even if you are the most prominent geisha in the house; a boyfriend is one of these things.
The "older sister" is the older geisha who is assinged to train a certain maiko. An "older sister" could have anywhere from one to four maiko at a time that she was training. Not only did this benefit the maiko, but it benfited the older geisha as well. The geisha who was chosen to be a maiko's "older sister" get a considerable amount of money - the better the geisha she is, the more money she will get. The "older sister" will take out the maiko and let her start experiencing life as a geisha. The "older sister" is the most important person in a maiko's life. The success of a maiko is dependent upon her "older sister."
The donna is a man who plays a very important role in the geisha's life. A geisha never has a chance to have freedom from her "mother" or the geisha house unless she has a donna. First, there is a maiko who must get an "older sister" and be introduced to the clients and geisha community. Next, the maiko will have her mizuage. After this and her training is complete, the maiko goes through a ceremony to become a true geisha. One she is a geisha, men and companies start requesting her at parties and teahouses to entertain them. If a certain man has a thing for the geisha, he can propose to become her donna. This means that he will fully support her, and a geisha's donna will pay for anything that she wants or needs. This relationship usually does consist of sex. A geisha's donna is the one man who she can have sexual relations with. If a man never proposes to be a certain geisha's donna, then most likely she will be forever indebted to her "mother" because it is hard to make enough money all on her own to pay back her "mother" for everything. With a donna's help, she could pay back her debts and get her own apartment and kimono.