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It was traditional in the past for established geisha to take a danna, or patron. A danna was typically a wealthy man, sometimes married, who had the means to support the very large expenses related to a geisha's traditional training and other costs. This sometimes occurs today as well, but very rarely. A geisha and her danna may or may not be in love, but intimacy is never viewed as a reward for the danna's financial support. The traditional conventions and values within such a relationship are very intricate and not well understood, even by many Japanese. While it is true that a geisha is free to pursue personal relationships with men she meets through her work, such relationships are carefully chosen and unlikely to be casual.
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. The white make-up and elaborate kimono and hair of a maiko is the popular image held of geisha. A woman entering the geisha community does not have to begin as a maiko, having the opportunity to begin her career as a full geisha.
Richard Hale is a tattoo enthusiast who studies and researches tattoo symbolism, meanings, and history. One unique tattoo that you may find interesting is the geisha. Although not a mainstream design, it is popular, especially within the Japanese culture. Worn by both men and women, these are usually very detailed and so they're commonly done in a larger size.