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The distinctive facial decoration and hairstyles, refined kimonos made of silks with exquisite colorful designs and the graceful demeanor of the Geisha have presented an entrancing subject for Japanese artists over the centuries. The tradition of the geisha is still deeply entrenched in Japanese culture. The selection process starts at a young age of around 15 and training is fairly rigorous over several years.
Contrary to popular belief, geisha are not the Eastern equivalent of a prostitute, a misconception originating in the West due to interactions with Japanese oiran courtesans , whose traditional attire is similar to that of geisha. The most literal translation of geisha into English would be "artist", "performing artist", or "artisan". This term is used to refer to geisha from Western Japan, which includes Kyoto and Kanazawa.