Monday, May 17, 2010


While bouncing around the Internet this evening (instead of doing the laundry...I know, I know...) I stumbled upon Okinawa Soba's Flickr photostream (via Kyoto Observer).  He has an impressive collection of photos from the late 1800's to early 1900's of beautiful, young Japanese Geishas.

Soba writes,
THE WORD GEISHA = GEI SHA 芸 者  (GEIKO is a Kyoto term for a GEISHA. Same thing. Six of one, Half a dozen of another). The first character GEI 芸 is usually translated into English as Art, or the Arts. The second character SHA 者 simply means Person.   Together they mean A person of the Arts. Therefore......ARTIST. That's simple enough.  But, sculptors, painters and potters are also "people of the arts". May we call them "Geisha" as well? No. 
The two Chinese characters for GEISHA are specifically reserved for the women in this so-named Geisha profession who have been trained from childhood in the Performing Arts such as Music, Dance, Speaking, or Singing for the purpose of entertaining others in venues clearly defined for them. 

ENTERTAINERS is probably a better translation of the word, but that, too, is far from sufficient, and is more likely to conjure up images of Stand-up comedians or Lounge Singers in a Las Vegas Night Club act. Besides, there is already a general Japanese word for TV Personalities and "entertainers" in this category : 芸 能 人 GEI NOH JIN.(Notice that the first part of that word also uses the same 芸 GEI character used in GEISHA).
Actually, there is no good English equivalent for 芸 者, as the Geisha is purely a Japanese phenomena. Not even their neighbors, Korea and China came up with the exact same thing. Thus, it is simply better to use the word Geisha, and simply know what the word entails when you are talking about her.

The photographs are beautiful and capture a culture and time I think many of us know little about. You can read more about Geishas here.


  1. I always thought that Geishas are so beautiful.
    I only ever heard of them after watching Memoirs of a Geisha. Have you seen it?

  2. I love the geisha culture. It fascinates me. Of course the book, Memoirs of a Geisha got me interested, but traveling to Japan also made me fascinated, of course.

  3. Pure eye candy! These are beautiful!! I think I'd like a collection of these for my office walls! got my brain spinnin'! Thanks!

  4. Beautiful! I loved these pictures!

  5. Stunning pictures. The first gal looks like a lot of fun. :) I took Japanese for my foreign language in high school (I always liked to be different!), and it was so interesting.

  6. Mystery and beauty, combined. I've always found the life of a geisha very interesting. Great pictures for this post.

  7. They are so beautiful. Such a fascinating culture.

  8. Thanks for stopping by. What beautiful shots!

  9. I love reading about that type of culture, it's so interesting. Geisha's got a bit of a bad rap, more so after the publication of "Memoirs of a Geisha" I think. There's some fascinating books on the subject though.

    Thanks for the lovely comment on my blog earlier!


Random love is always welcomed...