Geisha (芸者) or Geigi (芸妓) are
entertainers. They are
skilled at different Japanese
arts, like playing classical Japanese
poetry. Some people believe that geishas are
prostitutes, but this is not true. The
term "geisha" is made of two Japanese words, 芸 (gei) meaning "
art" and 者 (sha) meaning "person who does". The most
literal translation of geisha to English is "
artist". Geishas are very respected and it is hard to become one.
Another common word to call geishas is Geiko (芸子). This word was made in
Kyoto, and it is what they are called there. Kyoto is the city where the geisha tradition is older and stronger. Becoming a professional geisha (geiko) in Kyoto usually takes five years of
Apprentice geishas are called "maiko" (舞妓). This name is made of the Japanese words 舞 (mai) meaning "dancing" and 妓 (ko) meaning "child". The traditional
image of the geisha in white
kimono of many
bright colors is really the maiko. Full geishas wear simpler kimonos, and only use white make-up at special times.