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Geisha, Intercultural Communication Aspects


Understanding the communication characteristics of individuals with respect to cultural background assists a multicultural society to accommodate every individual in various social processes. The modern socioeconomic and political developments provide exposure to forces of globalization where every corner of the world is open and accessible to the entire world. In light of the connectivity that technology and innovativeness provide to processes in need of integration of the international community, communication plays a central role in running the affairs of the global village. Diversity witnessed in societies implies that communication at the global level is complicated and various social background attributes require studies including rituals, heritage, and culture. To illustrate the importance of these attributes, the following discourse highlights the Geisha women tradition to understand certain characteristics of Japanese cross-cultural communication.

Geisha Practice

Geishas are female artists and entertainers observing a conservative form of ancient Japanese civilization and culture in various aspects from attire to music. Tracing back to several centuries back in history, Geisha art was designed to entertain powerful political elites of the Japanese civilization such as emperors. According to (Cass 12), influential regional conservative politics such as the one in China’s Ming Dynasty with a traditional and conservative outlook dictated the nature of the practice of the art that was designed for such political class. Propagation of the entertainment tradition for the nobility became a prestigious art form, which in line with the conservative clients took shape of the conservative Japanese traditions that were witnessed elsewhere. Apart from specific regalia designed for the performance, the female artists undergo theatrical makeup on the face and hair that add flair and flavor to the performance. The performance of Japanese music and dance after spells of specialized training present the Geisha as among the few undoubted custodians of Japanese cultural heritage (Brown and Iwasaki 3). The performance of the entertainment does not only present the practice as a highly organized tradition but also as an important entertainment activity with far reaching sociocultural and political implications in Japan and across the globe. In terms of the communication attributes that the cross-cultural draws from the Geishas, modernity and tradition issues emerge as strong forces of the society that need special attention.


Geisha is the name that describes an ancient tradition of art in Japan and is used on women that carry on the entertainment practices of the Japanese. The old tradition of women art progresses in distinctive stages where recruits graduate to more advanced level after certain rituals that follow training. Young entrants are admitted as novices referred to as Maiko. As illustrated below, the attire distinguishes the novices from seasoned Geisha artists, a transition that takes place during the passage ritual that focuses on colors of attire and its collar detail. During the graduation ritual, novices acquire a plain white collar, which marks the advancement of their art skills. In terms of communication relevance to the multicultural society, understanding the importance of the graduation and perhaps esteem gained from such progression plays an important role in distinguishing how to address the artists.


Geisha women present the ancient entertainment culture from the onset in their attire and regalia that communicates about their rich history. Differentiation exists to distinguish apprentices and novices that are mainly young girls from more seasoned geisha women. Novices also referred to as Maiko have the Obi as well as Kimono as their main dress code that distinguishes them as younger Geisha artists (Brown and Iwasaki 8). Bright colors characterize the Obi and Kimono fabrics that take various designs extending to the sleeves, with some as long to touch the floor. Collar designs for the Kimono also demonstrate color distinction where white and red patterns dominate the theme. Dress length details distinguish between the Obi and Kimono, as well as their decoration detail. For purposes of communication, following simple color cues present an opportunity to understand the tradition and the meaning that the various stages have to the artists.

Culture and Heritage

Perhaps one of the most celebrated Japanese art traditions that deserve elevation to the status of the Samurai male counterparts is the Geisha for women. This is due to the antiquity attachment of the tradition that markets Japan as a cultural destination not only in East Asia but also in the whole world. Japanese cities attract international tourist attention and among the most dominant themes of attraction is ancient art that Geisha propagates. The conservative entertainment practices and art professed by the Geisha artists not only act as a historical resource asset for ancient Japanese civilization but also as a unifying force for the Japanese and the world around it (Kawaguchi 86). As a strong contributor to ancient art and painting forms of Japanese heritage, Geisha artists dominate most women paintings for the Japanese woman, which distinguishes her as an icon of marketing Japan as a rich cultural and art destination. Perhaps other Japanese art forms obtained their image and popularity from well-established traditions such as by the Geisha. In light of the importance that the heritage has to cross-cultural communication, the recognition of the Geishas as undisputed Japanese image enables appreciation of Japan as a famous world civilization stretching to centuries aback.

Negative Stereotype

From the origin of Geisha art and entertainment practices, political involvement with women entertainment introduced an image of reckless Geishas who extended sexual services to powerful political clients. Oblivious of the powerlessness of the woman in a majority of Asian cultural establishments, a cynical opinion emerged that the Geisha art tradition is wholly and entirely a prostitution business. Despite the fact that the woman as a strong social figure has the ability to shape her image before the society, the limited space of the Japanese woman casts doubt on a prostitution tag attached to the Geisha. Such negative stereotypes only contribute to the destruction of a rich and honorable art movement from a world leader in cultural heritage passed from family members (Brown and Iwasaki 2). In view of the communication projection that a Geisha makes to the multicultural society, art and personal interests can be distinguished just like other art movements and traditions.

Works Cited

Brown, Randle & Iwasaki, Mineko Geisha: A life, New York, NY: Atria Books, 2002. Print

Cass V. Baldwin Dangerous women: Warriors, grannies and Geishas of the Ming, Lanham, MA: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc., 1999. Print

Kawaguchi, Yoko Butterfly’s sisters: The Geisha in western culture, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2010. Print

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