The Japanese version of the jester, these men were once attendants to daimyo (feudal lords) from the 13th century, originating from the 'Ji Sect of Pure Land Buddhism', which focused on dancing. These men both advised and entertained their lord and came to be known as doboshu ('comrades'), who were also tea ceremony connoisseurs and artists. By the 16th century, they became known as otogishu or hanashishu (story tellers), where they focused on story telling, humour, conversation. They were sounding boards for military strategies and they battled at the side of their lord.
A time of peace began in the 17th century and the otogishu and hanashishu no longer were required by their lords, and so they had to take on a new role. They changed from being advisors to becoming pure entertainers, and a number of them found employment with the Oiran, high class Japanese courtesans. Seisuisho ('Laughs to Banish Sleep'), a collection of comic stories written by Sakuden Anrakuan, was compiled during this time.
"Geisha" means "arts person", while hōkan was the formal name for "jester". Taikomochi was a less formal name for these men, which literally means "drum (taiko) bearer", though not all of them used the drum. It could also have been a corrupted way of saying "to flatter someone". These three terms came into use during the 17th century. In 1751 the first onna geisha (female geisha) arrived at a party and caused quite a stir. She was called geiko ("arts girl"), which is still the term for geisha in Kyoto today. By the end of the 18th century these onna geisha outnumbered the male geisha - the taikomochi - and the men became so few that they started by otoko geisha ("male geisha"). The geisha even took over from the yujo due to their artistic skills, their contemporary outlook and their sophistication. The men continued to assist the women - this time the geisha - in the entertainment field.