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.
This is a real Maiko.
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.
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).
(All above pictures are from an ochaya called Shigemori in Kyoto)
Enough information, let’s take a look at how my hair transformed:
- Sectioning out hair
- Pull the back hair up for volume
- Also tying up the front and side parts
- Adding some tools to keep the volume, pull the side parts toward the back.
- Using wires to keep the side parts in shape, then tie the back tail into the bun.
- And here comes the not so pretty yet Maiko hairstyle
- Top off with makeup&November’s ornaments, it’s all set and done!
Here's the part 2 of the experience: My Gion tourist experience and thought on transforming into a maiko.