US $302

Diamontes, Papers – Chiyogami, metallics, Optix, cartridge
$ 470
What is it?
A maiko is an apprentice geisha . The maiko take lessons in the traditional arts in the mornings and then perform for visitors at ochaya (teahouses) in the evening. Maiko are usually aged 15 to 20 years old.  To become geiko (geisha plural) they must learn the Kyoto dialect and become accomplished with their singing, dancing and shamisen playing.


Maiko, unlike geiko, use their own hair and not wigs. They go to the hairdresser once a week, and in order to not disturb their hairstyle they sleep on a wooden block with a pillow under their neck.  Maiko wear elaborate kanzashi (traditional hair ornaments), which geiko do not.
Maiko wear special kimono called hikizuri. They are very long and have a padded hem to weigh them down, so they trail on the floor. The sleeves are long like they are for unmarried women in general. They wear a special obi which is 6 -7 meters long, so heavy that a male dresser is required to tie it for them. Their collars are white and red.  Geiko kimonos are usually less colourful and they have a simpler smaller obi. Their collars are all white.
Maiko and geiko both paint their faces white and leave a strip of bare skin unpainted by their hairline. For geiko this strip is covered by their wigs. Maiko wear pink blush around their cheeks, crimson and black outlines around their eyes, and their eyebrows will also be defined with red or pink under the black. Their lips are only partially coloured red as they consider too much colour to be vulgar on younger girls.
Geisha only have black outlining their eyes with a faint red under the black of their eyebrows. Their lips are fully coloured.
Daily Life
Maikos live in teahouses together with a mother who runs the house. The mother chooses a geiko to teach each maiko and they have a sister like relationship. There is a strict hierarchy in this world though, so they do not see each other as equals or friends.
The maiko’s earnings go to the mother of the teahouse. This covers food, board, kimonos and an allowance. Most maiko only have a couple of days off per month.
Fun Facts
  • In total, there are only about 70 maikos in Kyoto, so it's rare for girls to choose this path.
  • The face powder worn is so white because in the days before there was electricity their faces had to stand out clearly in a dark room lit only by candles.
  • The red around the eyes and brows is considered to be a colour that fends off bad spirits and protects you.
  • Maikos in their first year only wear lipstick on the lower lip as a sign that they're a beginner and may make mistakes.
  • The neck is considered sexy in Japanese culture, so the white paint on it is meant to emphasize the bareness of it.
  • Maikos are not allowed to go to busy places or stores that have Western-style names (meaning names that can be read from left to right).
  • They are not allowed to carry a mobile phone or to go on dates.
  • Geisha have more freedom and can have a phone, live independently, and get married.

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