Kyoto's Geisha & Maiko

Among the many things Japan is famous for, Geishas have definitely put on the top of the list before. After the movie "Memoirs of a Geisha” in 2005, geishas were definitely popularized in the western society. But little of the public known that, the real geishas and their apprentices maikos look vastly different from the actress who portrayed them. As a kimono maniac, my visit to Kyoto(the old capital of Japan) couldn’t have been completed without maiko transformation. It’s among the more costly tourist activities in Kyoto but definitely gives a very different angle to view Kyoto’s history.

Even though commonly known as Geishas altogether, these artisans actually go through an apprentice phase when they’re referred to as Maikos “The Dancing Girl” before being perceived as a Geisha.

This is a real Geisha.
Geisha Front   Geisha Back

This is a real Maiko.
maiko front   maiko back

Now, some differences are clear. Maikos wear kimonos with long sleeves tied up with a long belt (Darai Obi) while wearing high sandals called Okobo, whereas Geishas wear kimonos with short sleeves and a regular and short normal belt (Otaiko style) while wearing regular sandals called Zori.

maiko together   Geisha

Less notable differences are that Maikos have more ornaments that charges every month to put on their real hair and their sleeves resemble children’s kimono style, whereas Geishas wear a wig at all times with little ornaments to signify their maturity.

And this time, I’m transforming to a Maiko. The cool part? I’m using my own hair to do the transformation. Why is it cool? Because most Maiko transformation uses wigs and a little part of your real hair for the transformation. And that means you only have one style, but real maikos have different types of hairstyle for different season and occasions. The 2 most common ones are Wareshinobu(younger Maikos) and Ofuku(older Maikos).

maiko wareshinobu   maiko ofuku

(All above pictures are from an ochaya called Shigemori in Kyoto)
Enough information, let’s take a look at how my hair transformed:

  1. Sectioning out hair

maiko hair

  1. Pull the back hair up for volume

maiko hair

  1. Also tying up the front and side parts

maiko hair

  1. Adding some tools to keep the volume, pull the side parts toward the back.

maiko hair

  1. Using wires to keep the side parts in shape, then tie the back tail into the bun.

maiko hair

  1. And here comes the not so pretty yet Maiko hairstyle

maiko hair

  1. Top off with makeup&November’s ornaments, it’s all set and done!

maiko hair
maiko hair
maiko hair
maiko hair

Here's the part 2 of the experience: My Gion tourist experience and thought on transforming into a maiko.

WingShark

Chief Mascot at Outland Inc
Hellowings' mascot, wander in the sea of air tickets days after days, in order to sniff out the best deals out there. His ultimate mission is to find wings that can accompany travelers throughout the world. At the same time loves to share everything about the Hellowings Journey, he takes traveling as life in a nutshell, every step can yield enriching experiences.
Hellowings 吉祥物,每天徜徉在機票海裡,為了嗅出最超值的票價而努力,終極使命是替旅人找到足以漫遊世界的翅膀。在此同時也樂於分享有關於旅行的一切,認為旅行就是人生的縮影,每一步都是成長所需的養分。

Author: WingShark

Hellowings' mascot, wander in the sea of air tickets days after days, in order to sniff out the best deals out there. His ultimate mission is to find wings that can accompany travelers throughout the world. At the same time loves to share everything about the Hellowings Journey, he takes traveling as life in a nutshell, every step can yield enriching experiences. Hellowings 吉祥物,每天徜徉在機票海裡,為了嗅出最超值的票價而努力,終極使命是替旅人找到足以漫遊世界的翅膀。在此同時也樂於分享有關於旅行的一切,認為旅行就是人生的縮影,每一步都是成長所需的養分。