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Do geishas still exist in Japan?


Geishas are an iconic part of Japanese culture, known for their elaborate dress, traditional arts, and entertainment skills. However, there has been much debate over whether or not geishas still exist in Japan today. In this article, we will explore the history and culture of geishas, examine the current state of the industry, and answer the question: do geishas still exist in Japan?

History of Geishas

The history of geishas dates back to the 18th century, when they were known as “geiko” or “geigi”. They were highly trained performers who entertained guests at teahouses and other social events. Geishas were known for their dancing, singing, and instrument-playing skills, as well as their knowledge of traditional Japanese arts such as calligraphy and flower arrangement.

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The Life of a Geisha

The life of a geisha was highly structured and demanding. They lived in houses called “okiya” where they received training in traditional arts and music. Geishas were expected to entertain guests with their skills while remaining graceful and charming at all times. They wore elaborate makeup and clothing, often spending hours getting ready for each performance.

The Decline of the Geisha Industry

The geisha industry began to decline after World War II, as Western culture became more popular in Japan. Many young women chose to pursue careers outside of the traditional geisha profession. In addition, the demand for geisha entertainment decreased as Western-style nightclubs became more popular.

The Modern Geisha Industry

Despite its decline, the geisha industry still exists in Japan today. However, it is much smaller than it was in the past, with only a few hundred active geishas remaining. Most geishas work in Kyoto, where the industry is still active. They entertain guests at teahouses, restaurants, and other social events.

The Role of Geishas Today

The role of geishas today is different from what it was in the past. While they still entertain guests with traditional arts and music, they also act as ambassadors of Japanese culture. Many visitors to Japan seek out geisha experiences as a way to learn more about traditional Japanese culture.

Becoming a Geisha

Becoming a geisha is a highly competitive and demanding process. Young women must go through years of training and apprenticeship before they can become full-fledged geishas. They must learn traditional arts such as dance, music, and tea ceremony, as well as how to speak and behave properly in social situations.

The Cost of a Geisha Experience

Experiencing a geisha performance can be expensive, with prices ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars per person. This is due to the high level of skill and training required to become a geisha, as well as the exclusivity of the industry.

The Future of the Geisha Industry

The future of the geisha industry is uncertain. While there are still active geishas in Japan today, their numbers continue to decline. However, many people believe that the industry will continue to survive due to its cultural significance and the continued interest in traditional Japanese arts.

Myths About Geishas

There are many myths and misconceptions about geishas, such as the belief that they are prostitutes or mistresses. However, these ideas are far from the truth. Geishas are highly trained performers who entertain guests with their skills in traditional arts.

Geishas in Popular Culture

Geishas have been depicted in popular culture in books, movies, and television shows. However, these depictions often perpetuate myths and misconceptions about geishas. It is important to remember that geishas are real people with a rich cultural tradition.

The Importance of Preserving Geisha Culture

Preserving geisha culture is important for maintaining Japan’s cultural heritage. Geishas are an important part of Japanese history and tradition, and their skills in traditional arts should be celebrated and preserved for future generations.


In conclusion, while the geisha industry has declined in recent years, it still exists in Japan today. Geishas continue to entertain guests with their skills in traditional arts and act as ambassadors of Japanese culture. Preserving geisha culture is important for maintaining Japan’s rich cultural heritage.

Do geishas still work in Japan?

Currently, the number of geisha in Japan is just around 1,000. These geisha are located in various major cities such as Tokyo and Kanazawa, but the majority of them work in Kyoto. Their usual activities include attending social functions at tea houses and ryoutei, which are high-end Japanese restaurants. This information is as of May 10th, 2021.

How much do geishas make a year?

The income of a popular geisha can vary greatly, ranging from $3,000 per month to tens of thousands of dollars. Additionally, clients may give expensive gifts such as silk kimonos and gems worth over $10,000. This information was reported in July 2020.

What happens to geishas when they get old?

If a former geisha stops entertaining at parties and decides to quit her studies, she might take on a leadership role in an okiya or teahouse, or she might choose to exit the geisha lifestyle altogether.

What exactly does a geisha girl do?

Geisha is a Japanese term that means “art person.” In order to be a geisha, it is essential to have skills in singing, dancing, and playing the samisen, in addition to being able to engage in conversation. Some geisha also possess talents such as flower arranging, conducting tea ceremonies, or practicing calligraphy.

Were geishas allowed to have children?

Geisha do not have a predetermined retirement age and may continue their work for their entire lives if they choose not to marry. Additionally, while they cannot marry, it is still socially acceptable for geisha to have children, which is a relatively common occurrence.

How do geishas sleep?

In order to maintain a certain appearance, Geishas sleep with a small wooden support or takamakura under their neck, which can lead to discomfort and lack of sleep. Balancing the head on the stand is also a challenging skill to acquire.

It is worth noting that the geisha industry has faced criticism and controversy over the years. Some people argue that the industry perpetuates gender stereotypes and objectifies women. Others have criticized the high cost of experiencing a geisha performance, which can make it inaccessible to many people.

In recent years, efforts have been made to make the geisha industry more inclusive and diverse. Some geisha houses have begun to train male performers, known as “geiko”, and foreign students are now allowed to become apprentices. These changes are aimed at preserving the tradition of geishas while also adapting to modern times.

Despite these changes, the geisha industry faces challenges in attracting young people to become apprentices. The demands of the profession, including long hours of training and strict rules around behavior and appearance, can be daunting for many young women. In addition, the decline in demand for geisha entertainment means there are fewer opportunities for young geishas to earn a living.

In conclusion, while the geisha industry may be small and facing challenges, it remains an important part of Japan’s cultural heritage. Geishas continue to represent Japanese tradition and hospitality, and their skills in traditional arts are admired by people around the world. Whether or not the industry will continue to thrive in the future remains to be seen, but it is clear that the legacy of geishas will live on for generations to come.

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