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舞妓 Maiko

舞妓 Maiko

In the entertainment district, such as Gion of Kyoto, the geisha apprentices of geiko who perform shamisen and dances during banquets are called maiko. Although geisha and maiko look similar with powdered white faces and kimono, their hairstylesm shape of kimono, length of obi (kimono sash), colors of thongstraps of their footwear are different upon close scrutinization. Recently, the perfomances are made available to the public and events are organized for tours. Try joining if you have the chance to.

Maiko are women who entertain guests at banquets called ozashiki by performing Japanese traditional songs and dances, and playing the shamisen (Japanese three-stringed instrument).


Their origin is said to go back about 300 years ago to Kyoto. The most recognizable characteristic of a maiko is the white makeup called shironuri on the face and skin. In Japan, white skin was associated with beautiful women in the past, and the maiko has carried on the tradition by wearing the lovely shironuri makeup. Those who see maikos for the first time may be surprised at how white they look, but even today, they are beautiful and enjoyable to the eye. A long apprenticeship is required to become this gorgeous maiko. Most of them begin taking lessons on entertainment skills and etiquette after graduating from junior high school, which is called shikomi or training stage. After two years of training, they make their debut as a maiko at an ozashiki banquet. But the next stage to become a geiko still awaits them. They continue training for another five years to brush up their skills and are finally recognized as a full-fledged maiko called geiko. This is when they receive a pay for the first time. Visit Gion in Kyoto to meet the maikos, beautifully refined through long years of training. You can call a chaya or teahouse where the maikos belong to and have an ozashiki banquet with them. The cost is around 40,000 yen + meal charges. There are also programs to try on a kimono with maiko makeup. This maiko experience includes a photo in the maiko costume, as well as and a stroll through the streets of Kyoto. The cost is reasonable at around 10,000 yen, and many shops in Kyoto offer the maiko experience. We invite you to experience the Japanese beauty of the maiko.