Maiko・Geiko FAQ

answered by former maiko

Difference between Maiko and Geiko

 

What are differences in the costume and the hair-style between Maiko and Geiko?

Q

A

There are differences between maiko and geiko.

In maiko’s case they change on their age.

Regarding the difference of the hairstyle, Geiko’s hairstyle  is “Shimada” when they are young and it changes into “Tsubushi Shimada” when they get older.

Maiko’s one is “Wareshinobu” until 15~18 years, and in three years it changes into “Ofuku.”

Then  when they dress in family-crested kimono on new year’s day , they wear “Yakko shimada.” “Katsuyama” in the Gion Festival, “Sakko” one month before they turn into Geiko.

And maiko wear flower ornaments.(the table below is an example)

Q

What is difference in the makeup between maiko and geiko?

A

Maiko are their teens, so they put on makeup to look young and cute. There is a rule on the lipstick. They put lipstick on only the lower lip, not the upper one until the period of from half a year to one year after they made a debut. The period differs depending on the lodging houses and hanamachi (Geisha’s district,) and is not standardized.

Geiko put on makeup to look clear-cut, and apply makeup more heavily than maiko such as eyebrow, eyeliner, lipstick and so on. Some maiko put on makeup close to geiko in a few years after maiko made a debut.

Q

What things should maiko do to become geiko?

A

Maiko are literally girls under twenty who play Japanese traditional dance. When they become geiko, they have to perform arts including shamisen musical instruments, songs, other performances. In order to do them, they learn practices which were unnecessary during the maiko period.

For example, Japanese dance, tea ceremony, and musical accompaniments are requisite subjects. In addition, they choose among the subjects including flower arrangement, flute, koto or a zither-like Japanese musical instrument, nagauta or ballad sung to shamisen accompaniment, and others. Interestingly, go or Japanese game and haiga painting are included in the practice subjects.

History of Maiko

 

Q

Why did Maiko started to exist?

A

The oldest geisha district among five ones in Kyoto is Kamishichiken nearby Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. When Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a regent, the grand tea ceremony was said to have been held. Because of a lot of people then, seven teahouses were established near the shrine.

Those teahouses developed into a place called “ochaya” which maiko and geiko work afterwards. There cuisine, songs and dance were served to entertain visitors, and geiko who specialize in sing and dance were born.

And it is said that girls who continued to take lessons for performing  arts  as apprentice geiko emerged as maiko. Tea houses for the visitor to Yasaka shrine also developed into a geisha district named Gion-machi.

Are there any difference between present and past?

Q

A

There seem to be both different points and unchanged ones.

For example, about twenty years ago all maiko worked without pay. Maiko contracted with Okiya or a  lodging house, like a production agency of maiko (the period depended on the lodging house.)   During the contract period maiko received an allowance, not pay. Instead, Every meals, clothes and charges for lesson were granted, and they didn’t need money.

After the five - six year on average contract period expired, they receive pay and become independent. Nowadays, some lodging houses have a pay system. On the other hand, in the past there was height restriction, too tall people was not able to become maiko. Now, there are tall gaiko.

What is Hanamachi?

 

Where can I meet maiko?

Q

A

Since maiko often use a car even to move to near place, there are very few opportunity to meet maiko. The highly probable date to meet maiko is January 7. On this day Shigyoshiki, New Year’s Ceremony, is held and they walk around outside to greet in the morning. Another date is August 1. This day is Hassaku, the day which maiko make rounds of teahouses in summer, and is one of few days to be able to see maiko daytime like New Year’s Days. There is a place around the Gion Hanamikoji district to perform Maiko show.

Why do maiko play different performances in divided districts?

Q

A

The town maiko live is called Hanamachi. Now, there are five hanamachi, and they are called Gokagai. Those gokagai have various places of origin and era, and each district has unique characteristics. Kagai are not gathered in one place and are scattered in the north or east part of Kyoto. These gokagai have several exchanges a year, and they usually hold activities at each kagai. Maiko belong to one of gokagai.

Job and daily life of Maiko

 

What are maiko doing during a day?

Q

A

Maiko get up about 8 am - 9 am in the morning. They come their hair and put on ordinary makeup, not white-painted. They wear kimono for their exercise (yukata in summer) to pick up the articles for exercise. They make courtesy visits, and finish their exercise. Until the evening they have free time. At around 4 pm, they take a bath and eat meal (early supper).

They put on a makeup and otokoshi help them put on kimono. The preparation to go to the party is called “Okoshirae.” After Okoshirae is finished, their job will start at  about 6pm. Their jobs are mainly customer-service and dancing  before their gests. At 12 am or around 1 pm, they finish their jobs and remove their makeup, and take a bath. After that they usually spend freely and some maiko go to bed. They review lesson and take supper, or enjoy chatting with other maiko. Then they go to sleep in order not to put a burden on the next day.

Are their any works except for dance and serving?

Q

A

They sometimes go to other prefectures to attend show or events for kimono or other various themes. They rarely go overseas. They dance for events for tourism at hotels in Kyoto, Osaka and other cities.

 

How to become a maiko?

What are the requirements to be maiko?

Q

A

They must be teenage girls. Because maiko should be under 20 years old after finishing the compulsory education, their ideal age is before 18 years old. No particular height restrictions.

Not tall person is preferable.

What are points to be careful after they become maiko?

Q

A

A way of talking: spoken language by maiko is unique kyoto dialect
Attitude toward senior maiko: the discipline between senior and junior is very strict in the maiko world.

How do they train successors?

Q

A

In the past maiko were recruited, utilizing connections such as acquaintances and  relatives.

Maiko for generations were often the case. Now maiko are recruited over the Internet. Its door is widely opened to the general.

The number of applicant has been decreasing year by year and it experienced temporarily serious shortage of maiko. Nowadays maiko is a boom, the number of applicant has been increasing.

What efforts are made to be maiko?

Q

A

The important thing is “exercise of performing arts.” Even if they finish their job late night, morning lessons start at almost 10 am, or 9 am at the earliest. Maiko (in particular new members) should go to the training place before that to get a place in the queue. (They write their names on the paper in order.)  And until their turn arrive they go around making courtesy visits to the teahouse they visited last night or their senior’’ place. Other important thing is “learning customs and manners.” How to wear kimono for exercise, how to sleep on a box-shaped pillow because they don’t wear wig and do up their own hair, how to wear ornamental hairpins, how to make up etc. And they keep in mind that they develop themselves(they read a newspaper or a book, they watch TV news, they talk in beautiful language, and so on.)

What is the reason to have become maiko?

Q

A

It depends on a person. Though we cannot make a sweeping generalization, some people come to long for maiko after having watched TV, or some people turn maiko after taking advantage of experiencing maiko. The reason why there are former maiko at their home or their relatives is rare, Now the number of maiko from Kyoto is small, and almost all maiko are from other prefectures.

About Makeup

 

Why do maiko put on white makeup?

Q

A

Because in the old days we didn't electric light, maiko used to put on white makeup to make their face look beautiful under the candlelight. Maiko put on more moderate makeup than geiko.

Maiko always wear white makeup?

Q

A

Maiko put on white makeup and pink face powder for work. Eyebrows, eyeliner and lipstick are like ordinary adult ladies. Maiko don’t wear eye shadow. When they go to lesson or spend during free time, they put on normal makeup.

Why do maiko put lipstick on only lower lip?

Q

A

The reason is not clear. It is a makeup for maiko during first 6 months as a new face. Nowadays, only maiko in Gion area put on this makeup. This style of makeup is not seen in other geisha districts. Because there was custom for maiko with the hairstyle of "Sakko," which is before "Erikae" style, to dye teeth black,

the makeup may have been one of the way to express their youth to senior maiko.

※Erikae(collar change)…it means that maiko turn to be geiko ※Sakko…the hair style up which maiko get for a short period before becoming geiko

Who have made the maiko makeup method?

Q

A

Who made it and how created it originally is not clear. First Maiko learn how to makeup  from senior maiko or mother of a tea house from generation to generation.  Afterward they learn from watching other maiko.

Is the makeup method influenced by trends?

Q

A

The makeup of maiko and geiko have continued for about 300 years since the time there were no electrical light. The method of makeup should be handed down as it is from generation to generation without any influence such as  fashion of each period. They put on makeup to suit them properly, but the makeup is not affected by fashion.

What is the difference between V-shaped paint and W-shaped paint on the nape of the neck?

Q

A

Usually maiko put V shaped paint on the nape of the neck. When they put on kimono bearing a family crest (formal attire) during New Year's Holiday or on August 1 (Hassaku,) they put W shaped paint. W shaped paint is also called sanbon-ashi(three legs)

Do every maiko wear same makeup?

Q

A

Basically yes. When they turn senior maiko, they draw line and put on lipstick which suit themselves. However, it isn’t allowed to put on personal makeup, and they are advised to make their face young and naive by a senior person or a mother.

Where do maiko buy cosmetics?

Q

A

They can buy them at cosmetics street located in the Shinkyogoku shopping street in Kyoto  or at a local small store near they live.

About Costume

What are the characteristics of maiko costume?

Q

A

First of all, maiko’s sash is very long(about 7 meters.)  Maiko’s sash has a family crest (tab which is used not to lose way) on the other end. The sleeve of kimono is long. Kimono has hanging sleeves. And there are characteristics such as  tuck made at the shoulders which is able to be seen in child's kimono. Because maiko is younger than geiko (maiko was 11 or 14 years old in the past and was junior by five years,) every kimono is of child's size.  Now some maiko have large physical shape. A vestige from an earlier time has remained.  

 

How many kimono do maiko have?

Q

A

Maiko own about 12 kimonos (one for a month,) plus kimonos bearing a family crest (formal attire) during New Year's Holiday and summer season, and annual 15-16 kimonos worn after New Year's Holiday and for special dinner party .

Yumeyakata's tranformational studio prepares a lot of kimono.

Why they wear kimonos?

Q

A

Because at the period maiko worked actively, kimono culture,  not present dress culture, prevailed in the society. It was natural for ordinary people to wear kimono in the daily life. 

Other

 

​Which pose or angle do maiko look the most beautiful?

Q

A

Though in the case of taking normal photos a same rule also applies, photo will be more beautiful if you are taken from a little off-center when you are taken from the right front. Maiko wear big ornament on her left side, so photos are often taken from left. At that time they hide your hands in either sleeve. One of poses which maiko look beautiful is their appearance from the back. Long sash called "Darariobi" is one of main characteristics of maiko. The nape of the neck is also a angle which maiko look beautiful. They usually put V-shaped paint, but when they dress in full uniform on the special day like the New Year Holiday, they put W-shaped paint. The most beautiful is when they perform dance. Japanese dance is much harder than it looks, and it’s required to keep a beautiful figure.

Why they use a comb when doing their hair up?

Q

A

They use a comb to do their hair and brush their hair hair.  It may be good for the health and maintenance of long hair. Another use of comb is a hair ornament or an accessory. Maiko who is approaching the level of geiko also use comb. 

How long does it take to wear kimono and makeup?

Q

A

In Yumeyakata, it takes one hour to one hour and half to finish makeup and dressing. Real maiko finish within one hour as their daily operations.