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 colourful "flowers" and the geisha the "willows" because of their subtlety, strength, and grace.
In the early stages of Japanese history, there were female entertainers: saburuko (serving girls) were mostly wandering girls whose families were displaced from struggles in the late 600s.
A maiko is an apprentice and is therefore bonded under a contract to her okiya.
The early shikomi (in-training) and minarai (learns by watching) stages of geisha training lasted years, which is significantly longer than in contemporary times.
"The image of the geisha was formed during Japan's feudal past, and this is now the image they must keep in order to remain geisha".
After Japan lost the war, geisha dispersed and the profession was in shambles.
Nowadays, a geisha's sex life is her private affair In her book Geisha, a Life, Mineko Iwasaki said: "I lived in the karyukai during the 1960s and 1970s, a time when Japan was undergoing the radical transformation from a post-feudal to a modern society.
But I existed in a world apart, a special realm whose mission and identity depended on preserving the time-honored traditions of the past." Traditionally, Geisha began their training at a young age.
Walled-in pleasure quarters known as yūkaku and within which "yūjo" ("play women") would be classified and licensed.