Three ‘shikomi’ (maid apprentices), c. 1910.

1910sArts & CultureGeisha/Maiko/Onnanoko
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Three shikomi (maid apprentices), c. 1910.

See also:
Kamuro (attendant) at Yoshiwara, c. 1910
Teruha, the “Nine-fingered Geisha”, c. 1910

“Learning by observation once meant gradually becoming accustomed to the geisha world by the simple fact of being around other geisha. Girls of ten to twelve years old, laboring in the teahouses as maids (shikomi), were thought to be learning by observation for their eventual careers as geisha. They often suffered in the process, but a little suffering was thought to help them become stronger women and better geisha. Long hours of arduous work and strict shamisen and dancing lessons were the rule. Most places drew the line at out and out cruelty, at least.”

Geisha, by Liza Crihfield Dalby, 1983

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