The word “geisha” means ‘arts person’ in English.
Traditionally, Geishas were trained since their childhood days. Geisha were very common in the 18th and 19th century. However, today's Geisha are much fewer in number, there are only about 1000 Geishas are left.
Geishas are skilled entertainers who have to endure years of tough trainings. Firstly, they started out by working as maids, and once they become an apprentice geisha (also known as maiko), they would begin to learn and practice the art of being a geisha. They would learn how to dance, sing and play the shamisen.
(This is how a shamisen look like)
Many people have the misconception of geishas being prostitutes. However, they are not. Though there is a right for their clients/customers to "buy" their virginity (mizuage), they have the rights to not have sex with them even if they had bought their virginity.
Geisha in the modern era
Modern geisha are no longer sold into slavery, but geisha training remains long and difficult. The reason for the decrease in the number of Geisha today is due to the traditional and tough trainings. Many girls would not want to give up their life for being a Geisha.
However, Young women who wish to become geisha now most often begin their training after completion of middle school, high school, or even college. Many women begin their Geisha careers in their adulthood as compared to the past, women start being a Geisha at the age as young as four.