A Japanese “geisha” is someone who is professionally trained to entertain guests at social events like dinners. Geishas go through rigorous schooling and are branded at the utmost high level of class – it costs hundreds of dollars to have a geisha accompany you to a restaurant (that must be luxurious itself). Apart from talking with the guests and catering to their needs (things like lighting their cigarettes for them), geishas are masters of traditional dance and musical instruments.
These types of geishas that I just described do still exist in today’s Japan, especially in Kyoto and in Tokyo’s Asakusa district, but they have made way to a modernized version of this time-honored Japanese tradition. The modern geisha world is officially unrelated to the conventional, highly-esteemed ways of the classic geisha, and I do not mean any disrespect when comparing between them. Anyway, this is what I am talking about:
What you see before you is a menu (yes, menu) of male entertainers at a club, and no, this is not a strip joint for ladies. The woman in the upper-left corner of the first photo is the “mama” who is in charge of the club’s entertainers. Instead of traditional Japanese tea houses and pricey restaurants at which you can enjoy the formal, upscale companionship of a geisha, nowadays things are much more casual. These modern geishas, called hosts or hostesses, are simply good looking men or women (beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, I suppose) who will drink, eat, dance, and sing karaoke with you, and make sure that there isn’t a single down time during your night out. Of course, all expenses are on the customer, and expensive they are – every drink ordered to the table must be ordered for the hosts/hostesses, who don’t get drunk because they are secretly served non-alcoholic beverages.
The concept of Japanese hosts and hostesses is similar to inviting a comedian or clown to a party – they make sure people are talking, laughing, and having an overall good time. That’s why it’s not unusual to see groups of ladies or guys occasionally going out to a club and enjoying the company of hosts or hostesses who lively up the atmosphere. There are also Japanese, however, who form longer lasting relationships with their modern geishas. These customers benefit from partying outside any specific club, and instead are privately accompanied to restaurants, karaoke parlors, etc. Everything for a price, of course.