5 mins

How to be a geisha: a 5-step guide

They're icons of poise, calm and femininity - so how can you live like a Japanese geisha? Start with these 5 tips...

Young Japanese women called Maiko wear traditional dress (Shutterstock: see credit below)

1. Love the art

Geisha are able to debut once they can perform flawlessly before an audience, but that is only the start. The rest of their lives is spent perfecting their skills. If you don’t love practising hard every day, it won’t work.

Stone pavement and maiko (trainee geisha) (Shutterstock)

2. Be receptive to instruction

The geisha world is hierarchical, with centuries of tradition represented in the older geisha. As a new geisha there are only two possible answers: “Yes” and “I’m sorry”. Don’t even think of saying “but” – that will bring your geisha career to an abrupt end.

3. Love people

Geisha need to look after their customers: they must entertain, facilitate conversation and meetings, amuse, console – they must be everything to everyone.

Apprentice geisha (Shutterstock)

4. Cultivate yourself

It takes a long time to learn to wear kimono beautifully, and every geisha has subtly different make-up to enhance her face. It takes years to become truly geisha-like: being able to move beautifully and gracefully, and to look elegant no matter what the situation.

5. Be conservative with traditions and innovative with business

No tradition can continue if it is utterly fossilised. To keep the geisha tradition alive we need to protect the most beautiful of the traditions while keeping it relevant to the modern age.

Sayuki Asakusa debuted in 2007 as the first ever white geisha; she currently works in Tokyo. Her book Inside the Flower and Willow World will be published by Macmillan Australia this year.

Main image: Three young beautiful Japanese women called Maiko wear traditional dress (Shutterstock)

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