Learn about the history of the Geisha with iMinds insightful audio knowledge series.Mystery and misconception surround the geisha. At first glance, she may appear to be rather average looking, heavily clad in a weighty costume and an excess of make-up. But behind this mask lies a range of artistic skills and social etiquettes of immense importance to Japanese culture past and present.
The most common place to find a geisha today is in Kyoto, the former capital of Japan before Tokyo –or Edo- took over. Even so, it is rare to see a real geisha walking the streets there. There are Japanese girls who look like geisha - wearing colorful kimonos with thick obis wrapped tightly around their waist, tottering along on pairs of wooden okobo. But real geisha are more likely to be sleeping late, emerging at night to entertain well-paid and well-paying businessmen, politicians and the like. The word geisha literally means “a person of artistic skill”. In Kyoto, the words geiko and maiko are more commonly used. A geiko is a fully qualified geisha, while a maiko is still in training.
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This is a short overview of the realities of being a geisha in today's Japan, and the social and cultural history that make these highly skilled women such complex and mysterious figures. Performer Ellouise Rothwell presents the facts in a smooth, sensuous voice with a light accent, set against harp and other gentle instrumental music that adds texture to the recording. For anyone who has ever wondered what these women in kimonos really do, this is a highly recommended entree into a fascinating topic.
"I'm learning all sorts of stuff about stuff I didn't even know I didn't know. And it sticks. In a nutshell: wonderful." (Jonathon Margolis, Financial Times)
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