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Performing in a Geisha Costume

Translated, the word geisha really just means live performing artist. Since there’s no American counterpart, it’s often mistaken for prostitution. However, a Giesha is a respected career, highly valued in Japanese culture. Girls must train for several years to reach distinguishing milestones in order to become a fully trained Geisha. Just as Hollywood is the center of the motion picture industry in the U.S., Kyoto is the center of the Geisha art form in Japan. So a Kyoto costume for women would be a Geisha.

The Geisha are trained to entertain through dance, tea service and musical performances. During the Allied Forces occupation of Japan, opportunistic females began entertaining male soldiers as “Geisha Girls” or “Panpan Girls” outside of the ancient Geisha tradition. These women were, in fact, prostitutes, and they tarnished the reputation of the ancient art of Geisha.

Madame Butterfly Costume

Fans of the Madame Butterfly Opera might wear a Geisha dress as a Madame Butterfly costume. To turn a geisha dress into a Madame Butterfly costume, carry a dagger and wrap a scarf around your neck, because Butterfly killed herself at the end of the opera. Any kimono and costume wig with white face makeup like a traditional geisha will do.

Japanese Kimono Costumes

A kimono would be the basis for any Japanese costume. Footwear is there wooden platform style shoes, made from bamboo, to be worn with a Kimono to really make the look distinctive and authentic. The white makeup and black wig complete the look. You can buy a makeup kit that has sketches and application ideas for several different faces. A traditional Geisha face has a certain look, but you might want to make yours scary, more animal or sexier to match the pattern of your silk, the cut of your dress or just for fun.

Geisha Costumes

Asian costumes for women mostly all start with a kimono. The richly embroidered sash that is tied around the waist of a kimono is called an obi and in unmarried women, and Geisha, it is tied in the back. Married women tie their obi in the front, and the folds and pleats are sometimes used for carrying things, almost like a purse. Men who fantasize about geisha girls often imagine dominatrix-style play using the obi, so you might want to practice wrapping and rewrapping yours . . . just in case.

Of course, if you don’t care for the authentic look, nobody will turn up their noses if you wear a sexy short skirt, look a bit goth or punk, or heck, even wear a silk robe with a black sash (urr, obi.)

Asian Couples Costumes

A woman dressed as a Geisha can party with a Ninja, a Sumo wrestler, a U.S. army soldier or an old Oriental Emperor. What sounds like fun to you?

Hair Style of a Geisha

For Geisha hair, a loose bun is made on the top of the head and secured with beaded chopsticks, flowers or embellishments. Traditionally, of course, chopsticks are not used but for costume fun, a chopstick bun is effective. To make the loose bun that’s typical of a geisha, begin by putting mousse or gel into dry hair and back-combing it to create a tall poof of hair on top of the head. Gently roll the poof into a bun shape and secure with hair pins. Use a comb to smooth out the hair along the hairline so it doesn’t look ratty. Spray with hair spray to make it shiny and stable. If your hair is shorter, you might want to try the Geisha costume wigs, they look awesome.

Being a Geisha

Aside from wearing the proper costume, a Geisha must behave a certain way. Geisha are obedient and demure, serving tea silently and entertaining in a very feminine, graceful way. To play the part of a Geisha, you might want to have a costume accessory, like a shamisen (traditional Japanese musical instrument), or a tea set. Follow your man obediently, like a 1950’s housewife, and tend to his every need. If silent obedience isn’t your style, the make-up will help. Go ahead, try it! You can always get even after the party.

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One Response to “Performing in a Geisha Costume”

  1. Mels Says:

    I have ALWAYS wanted to be a geisha for Halloween (or possibly for Valentine’s Day 😉 ). Thanks for the tips. It doesn’t sound like this is too complicated or expensive to pull together.

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