Being a Geisha, just like any form of education, may take numerous years to complete. Misconceptions are abound in this traditional Japanese occupation, such as geishas being prostitutes, or that only the Japanese are allowed to be geishas. These are far from the truth, although it takes a lot of dedication in order to enter this profession.
Geishas make their debut, or misedashi, at the age of 15. They would be then introduced to an okasan which would then decide if they would like to take the girl in for training. For about four years, they would be trained in a variety of skills including but not limited to dancing, singing, and the traditional tea ceremony. This period is called the shikomi.
After this period, girls will be asked to observe other geishas and will start to wear traditional geisha garb such as kimonos. They will also have their hair and makeup done in the traditional style.
As a Junior maiko, you will be provided with an onesan, which will serve as your teacher and mentor in the skills necessary to be a full fledged geisha. After a few more years, they will then become a Junior Geiko, which already amounts to being an official Geisha. This period is called the “Erikae”, and there will be a lot of celebrations in your name. it is also during this time that you will also be allowed to have a younger girl to take under your wing.
After a couple of years, a junior geisha will become a senior geisha, and she will no longer be wearing the white makeup and wigs. At this stage in their careers, their services would be rare and far between, but would be very sought after and would also get a high price. All in all, this would take around 10 to 15 years upon a girl’s misedashi in order to reach this stage.
As you can see, there are a lot of phases that a person must go through in order to become a real life geisha. It has its charms and benefits, although this not a profession that would fit exactly everyone. It takes a lot of commitment and a lifetime of servitude in order to ascend the ranks, and many actually quit before they could officially acquire the title. Thus, as with any type of profession, it is very important to think many times before embarking on the education required in order to become a geisha.