In both American and Japanese traditional tattooing, there are certain classic images that have been consistently replicated for decades. One of these is the geisha. Geishas first began appearing in Japanese woodblock designs and then made their way into Japanese tattooing. During WWII, Japanese imagery was brought into American traditional tattooing and became a staple of flash. Today, geishas are reimagined in just about every style under the sun and are still extremely popular among collectors.
Geishas are Japanese performers who are trained in traditional performance arts such as dance, music and singing. They can be instantly recognized for their long kimonos, traditional hairstyles and distinctive oshiroi makeup. There are many misconceptions about geishas, one of the most prominent being that they are prostitutes. This misconception is often made because many high ranking prostitutes also wore kimonos and during WWII many Japanese prostitutes advertised themselves as geisha girls to American soldiers. Geishas are highly revered and respected, as they spend years training to learn highly developed performances.
Over the years, there have been many films depicting geishas and their culture. Some of the most prominent include 1936's "Sisters of the Gion" and 2014's "Lady Maiko." One of the most famous American films about geishas is 2005's "Memoirs of a Geisha," based on the 1997 book of the same name by Arthur Golden. This film was nominated for six academy awards, winning Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design.
In honor of the rich history of geishas, take a look at 75 of our favorite geisha tattoos in the gallery below. Then let us know your favorite tattoo from this list in the comments section on social media.