This papercraft is a Geisha, designed by trucmachin. Geisha, geiko or geigi are traditional Japanese female entertainers who act as hostesses and whose skills include performing various Japanese arts such as classical music, dance and games.
Apprentice geisha are called maiko or hangyoku, “half-jewel”, or by the more generic term o-shaku, literally “one who pours”. The white make-up and elaborate kimono and hair of a maiko is the popular image held of geisha. A woman entering the geisha community does not have to begin as a maiko, having the opportunity to begin her career as a full geisha. Either way, however, usually a year’s training is involved before debuting either as a maiko or as a geisha. A woman above 21 is considered too old to be a maiko and becomes a full geisha upon her initiation into the geisha community. However, those who do go through the maiko stage can enjoy more prestige later in their professional lives.
The only modern maiko that can apprentice before the age of eighteen are in Kyoto. So on average, Tokyo hangyoku are slightly older than their Kyoto counterparts. Historically, geisha often began the earliest stages of their training at a very young age, sometimes as early as at 3 or 5 years. The early shikomi and minarai stages of geisha training lasted years, which is significantly longer than in contemporary times.
It is still said that geisha inhabit a separate reality which they call the karyūkai or “the flower and willow world.” Before they disappeared the courtesans were the colorful “flowers” and the geisha the “willows” because of their subtlety, strength, and grace.
A geisha’s appearance changes throughout her career, from the girlish, heavily made-up maiko, to the more sombre appearance of an older established geisha. Different hairstyles and hairpins signify different stages of a young girl’s development and even a detail as minute as the length of one’s eyebrows is significant. Short eyebrows are for the young and long eyebrows display maturity.
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