Wikipedia:Very good articles/Geisha
Geisha (芸者) or Geigi (芸妓) are traditional female Japanese entertainers. They are skilled at different Japanese arts, like playing classical Japanese music, dancing and poetry. Some people believe that geishas are prostitutes, but this is not true. The term "geisha" is made of two Japanese words, 芸 (gei) meaning "art" and 者 (sha) meaning "person who does". The most literal translation of geisha to English is "artist". Geishas are very respected and it is hard to become one.
Another common word to call geishas is Geiko (芸子). This word was made in Kyoto, and it is what they are called there. Kyoto is the city where the geisha tradition is older and stronger. Becoming a professional geisha (geiko) in Kyoto usually takes five years of training.
Apprentice geishas are called "maiko" (舞妓). This name is made of the Japanese words 舞 (mai) meaning "dancing" and 妓 (ko) meaning "child". The traditional image of the geisha in white make-up and kimono of many bright colors is really the maiko. Full geishas wear simpler kimonos, and only use white make-up at special times.