Real Life Geishas | National Geographic


Geishas…are they artists or courtesans? Glimpse into the secret lives of this mysterious beauties and their ancient rituals
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Real Life Geishas | National Geographic

National Geographic


Date: January 16, 2020

48 thoughts on “Real Life Geishas | National Geographic

  1. Are geisha prostitutes, or have they ever been?

    The answer flat out is NO. While geisha arose from the courtesan world, during the Edo period they established themselves as part of the entertainment class and were never prostitutes themselves.
    Note that prostitution was legal with proper licenses during the Edo period. These were held by oiran and lesser prostitutes, but geisha were strictly forbidden from holding such a license.

    Modern misconceptions have largely been drawn from:


    Arthur Golden’s book Memoirs of a Geisha is written about a maiko (trainee geisha) selling her virginity to the highest bidder. If this was “a thing” then every geisha would have experience of prostitution at least once during their lifetime. But as it was illegal for geisha, okiyas (geisha boarding houses) would lose their business licenses if caught. So did this occur? The answer is probably yes in some instances, but it was never acceptable or legal, even during the Edo period.

  2. This so called "expert" is full of it. She obviously has spent little time around the geisha word.This documentary was shot for another national Geographic production and re-edited. I was the fixer for the original project. See my documentary "Real Geisha Real Women" to hear from the women themselves.

  3. Geisha/geiko/maiko are NOT prostitutes. Their very namesake means "artist." Sure, they may sleep with one of their patrons, but that is the individual's prerogative and not to be confused with the profession as a whole. They are entertainers and artisans, nothing more.

  4. Ever since I was a little girl i've been fascinated by Geisha when I first saw them in the pages of National Geographic back in 1992-3. They live in such a wonderful and secret world of beauty and fantasy and I really hope I can go to Japan in the future to see Geisha preform live 🙂

  5. the thing that amazes me is that most men in Japan would pay a high price simply for COMPANIONSHIP! There is an art to love and an art to making someone feel like they are special and wanted and desired. In western culture, we think that kind of love is simply sex. In a way, that makes us simple and primitive compared to these asian cultures that became civilized WAY before europe.

  6. Geisha spent most ofd their time pouring tea, looking beautiful, making conversation and dancing. Real geisha were not prostitutes, although a high standing Geisha could be payed hundreds of thousands for her virginity.

  7. I would just like to point out to those who are having a go about the prostitute thing the programme does only say "Some early Giesha's where prostitiutes" Which in a sense is true… and over time it's changed… Either way I suppose nobody will ever fully know/agree on this down to the roots of the matter… so yeah… Xx

  8. How many times do people have to say that TRUE Geisha were NOT prostitutes before that's understood. *waiting to see how many comments are STILL posted by people who are not ready to understand the truth about other cultures*

  9. @princeofwinter

    I take exception to that. I am American and married to a Japanese woman. Don't let one apple spoil the whole bunch. Where are you from genius? You say we only think of sex, beer, and alcohol. You know, beer and alcohol are regularly consumed in Japan as a social stability. "I was there" and as many people as I saw, beer was a VERY big thing. Think before you open your mouth!!!

  10. There is one australian geisha in Tokyo today.
    I think that's all, although I heard suppositions about russian and chinese girls possibly becoming geisha before the war.
    There is also Lisa Dalby, who is probably whom kagnomi is refering to, but she never was a real geisha – she participated as one to a number of parties, as first-hand experience for her thesis.

    But there is no law or hard and fast rule about that, I suppose. Fluency in the langage would be a requisite, though.

  11. not all.some do take a master, but he pays for all her trainning, clothes ect: so he is like her support and even if she takes a master they don't always have sexual intercourse

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