Shikomi - Young girls employed as maids before they even begin their geisha training.
Minarai - Older girls who quietly serve geisha "in the field" as servants.
Han’gyoku - "Half-jewel," a term for a trainee geisha who has not yet become an apprentice.
O-shaku - "One who pours alcohol," a more experienced trainee who has not yet become an apprentice.
Maiko - An apprentice geisha who generally serves as the senior assistant to a geisha.
Geisha (Geiko in the Kyoto dialect) - Literally "performing artist," this is the title of a female entertainer who specializes in various performing arts such as playing musical instruments, singing, and dancing. Additionally they act as hostesses at parties, entertaining guests with witty conversation.
Atotori - This is a title for a senior geisha, one who has been adopted by the manager of an Okiya (geisha lodging house) to be the designated heir.
Okasan - "Mother," The title of the manager of an Okiya.
There is generally some confusion as to whether or not geisha are prostitutes. Clarity in the issue is not always easy, even in Japan, because prostitutes do attempt to pass themselves off as geisha in many instances. Additionally, certain high class courtesans, known as oiran, do wear elaborate hairstyles, makeup, and costumes which make it difficult to visually differentiate between the two.