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To be a Maiko

Maiko and Tourism

I wish to see a maiko

There is very little opportunity to encounter a maiko even
in the Gion area.
However, the chance would be higher if you are around Ichiriki
Teahouse on Hanami-koji street, or the Gion-shinbashi area.
You may sometimes see a maiko going to work in the evening. But it normally
happens in a moment. You may want to let her go instead of asking her to stop
for a photograph, because it is the time for her to go to work at a Japanese
restaurant or teahouse. It may be possible for you to take her photograph from a
distance without being noticed.

I wish to see a maiko 2

When walking around the Shijo-kawaramachi area,
we occasionally happen to encounter geiko and maiko in everyday
dress. Sometimes, they are very cool-looking in summer wearing a
yukata; at other times, they are dressed in an ordinary kimono.
Needless to say, geiko and maiko look gorgeous when dressed up
in formal kimono. However, they also look lovely in another sense
when they wear everyday clothes. We feel a special atmosphere when
they walk down the street in a gorgeous manner, wearing light-make
up and traditional Japanese hair style. Undoubtedly, they naturally
can produce Japanese style (wa) atmosphere because they are dressed
properly in a komono and behave gracefully. Geiko and maiko are
beautiful whenever and wherever they are.


It is often heard that people tend to mistake a tourist using maiko
style rental service for a real maiko. If you are a local person or someone who
engages in the kimono industry or other industries related to the Gion district,
you will tell the difference in an instant. But if you are from outside of Japan,
it won’t be easy.Below, I will share with you some key features that distinguish a
real maiko from a tourist.

  • Wig: A real maiko always does up her own hair in Japanese style.
  • Kimono: A tourist wears kimono which looks cheaper or on which you will
    find wrinkles.
  • Hairpin: A tourist wears hairpins in a way that lack a sense of the season.
    For example, they wear a hairpin with cherry trees designed on it in autumn.
  • Ride in a rickshaw: Normally, a real maiko doesn’t ride in a rickshaw.
  • Eat food: A maiko never eats while walking when dressed in the maiko costume.

Tourism and maiko

You might think that it is an impossible dream to play with maiko
at the teahouse, because that seems only for those who are rich and
have a broad range of personal connections. Yes, that’sright.
Then, how can an ordinary person like us get a chance to see maiko?

1.Go to public events
The presence of maiko is essential at some large festivals in Kyoto.
As we discuss in the “Annual Schedule of Maiko” section,
we recommend you participate in festivals and other public
events where maiko are present. It may be hard to take a
front row seat with a nice view of maiko. But if you are
determined and make an effort, it won’t be impossible..
2.Go to dance (odori) events
This option will cost you some amount of money, but you
certainly can watch maiko dancing. Like the event that
has continued for a long time, these dance events have a
unique atmosphere that you will never forget.
3.Take an optional tour
It is surprising that only few people know about optional tours
offered by local travel agencies. These tours give you the
opportunity to watch maiko in the Gion district at affordable
rates. It is worth to try!!
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Try a “maiko experience”

If you are a person who admires maiko’s beauty, but doesn’t have a courage to stake your life to be a maiko yourself, a “maiko experience” one-day tour is there for you. There are many service providers that offer you a “maiko experience”. Some service providers can communicate in English. Why don’t you try one to make your stay in Kyoto memorable?

“Maiko experience” service providers usually accept request for reservations via email or telephone. Consult with them and get a schedule of the day. Ask them anything you need to know and make sure about every important point. Some providers offer a variety of tour packages. So, select the one that suits your needs and enjoy!
2.Showing up on the day
If you can show up at the service provider’s place a little bit earlier than the appointed time, that may help them serve you better.
3.Making up
Special staff will help you put on a maiko-style make up. They will put powder on your face, pencil your eyebrows, apply eyeliner, and rouge the lips for you. You will be excited and thrilled while you are waiting. Even if you have sensitive skin, you don’t need to worry about it because some shops use the cosmetic material that keeps your skin from getting rough..
4.Getting dressed in kimono
You can choose a kimono with your favorite color and patterns. Do you want to choose the one with gorgeous red, or cool, stylish black? Don’t worry, because you will get dressed with the help of professionals. You will feel fresh in a maiko-style kimono that you have never worn in the daily life.
5.Wearing a wig
Then, you will get a Japanese hairstyle wig to be put on your head. This may be the first time for you to wear a wig whatsoever. The hanging ornament (bura) of hairstick (kanzashi) will hit your forehead, making rustling sound. Now, you will say to yourself “Is this me”? Voila! You are a cute maiko.

After that, you can receive the services that are included in your tour package. Of course you will have your photograph in maiko dress taken by a photographer. And you can hit the town in maiko costume if you may like to. If your package only includes taking photographs, it will take about 2-3 hours from start to finish. Wouldn’t you like to try this wonderful experience?

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