Oct 14, 2010


As you can probably tell, I have a bit of a geisha fascination. Probably ever since I read Arthur Golden's Memoirs of a Geisha. Last year hubby and I travelled to Japan, and  I got to fulfil my dream of seeing geiko and maiko, and wadering around the cobble-stoned, wooden store-fronts of Kyoto. Here are some photos I took.

 As you can see - many people go out 'geisha watching' in Kyoto - you can see others taking pictures too. Often you had to jostle with a few others to get a good vantage point to take your pictures!

Coincidentally, we happened to visit Kyoto at the time of the Gion Festival - one of the biggest festivals in Japan. As part of this festival, I got to fulfil another dream and attend a Maiko evening at a local hotel. This meant I got to actually spend some one-on-one time with a real Maiko, and with the aid of a friendly -Japanese speaking - waitperson, ask some questions!
Conversation with Chikayoshi - Maiko from Pontocho District in Gion.

How long have you been training?
About 2.5 months, but I have been living in the Okiya for about 1.5 years now.

Why did you decide to become a Maiko?
I've always wanted to be one, and I've always loved dance.

If you hadn't become a Maiko, what would you have done?
I would have gone to high school.

What is your favourite Maiko skill?

What do you find the most difficult?
Speaking in the traditional language of the hanamachi (geisha district). It's a very old fashioned Japanese dialect that Kyoto Geisha are expected to speak.

How long does it take you to get ready for your evening appointments?
About 2 hours.

Do you see your family much?
No, not much at all. It's very difficult.

What would you do on a typical day?
I love going to movies! When I take off my makeup and hair ornaments, it's like being in disguise!

Do Maiko and Geiko mind people taking their picture in the street?
No, not really. Sometimes when people say nothing and just jump out, it startles me! But if they say "Excuse me, can I take a picture?' I never mind.

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