It Ain't Easy Being Geisha

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Geisha are traditional female Japanese entertainers and social companions. Their training, performances, and appearance follow a tradition that goes back hundreds of years, and follow very elaborate rules and customs. The Japanese tea ceremony is a case in point. There is a right way, and many wrongs ways to do it, and each aspect of the setting, utensils, materials, and steps have a particular meaning.

Just wearing the traditional Japanese kimono takes dozens of steps! Here's how to do it (instructions scroll to the right... way to the right).
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Besides wrangling with a kimono, maiko, or apprentice geisha, must wear ornate hairstyles with wax and accessories that may add six pounds to the weight of her head! Geisha stylist Tetsuo Ishihara tells us about maikos who must sleep propped on a wooden pillow to preserve a hairstyle that must last a week. Many maiko styles are displayed each year at Kushi-matsuri (the comb festival) in Kyoto.

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It doesn't get any easier to look the part, after the jump.

Geisha makeup takes a big chunk of time and material. Here's a primer from a Japanese makeup website, just in case you want to try it.
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Traditional geta sandals complete a kimono ensemble. Maiko wear a particularly tall type of geta sandals, called okobo.
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You can see photos of the finished product in these two galleries of geisha photography by Frantisek Staud.

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Compared to what geishas go through to be well-dressed, these modern fashionistas found at Japanese Fashion probably find it easy to look their best.

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That's only how to get the look of a geisha. They must also learn etiquette and performing arts. Learn more about modern geisha at Immortal Geisha.

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April 12, 2007 - 2:35am
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