1. Best Maiko Makeover Studio Part II: Gion AYA

Best Maiko Makeover Studio Part II: Gion AYA

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Nanaka Shirasawa

It’ve been 20 years to live in Kyoto. No place to I possibly can live except Kyoto.


-Everyone can be a beautiful maiko in Gion Aya-


In Kyoto, there are several places where you can transform into maiko. 

Many tourists enjoy being maiko and having pictures taken by professional photographers. It’s one of the most popular tourist activities. 

However, as there are several options where to have the experience, it might be difficult to find differences between them. Today, I’d like to introduce one of the best maiko makeover salons/studios in Kyoto! 





◼︎Gion AYA 

Gion Aya is popular among foreign tourists who are looking for activities which they can feel the traditional Kyoto culture. 

According to the manager of Gion Aya, more than half of the customers are from overseas. The staff is well trained to welcome international guests. 






◼︎Inside of Aya 


Gion Aya is located in 10 minutes walk from the Yasaka Shrine. 

It’s at an quiet street of old houses. The traditional Kyoto-style house was built as “ochaya,” where people can have dinner with maiko and geiko, and see dance performances by them.




There are a waiting room and makeup room along the corridor. 




The inside of the makeup room looks very neat. 

It’s wider than the picture and there are various kinds of makeup items, which make me very excited. 




Here is the dressing room. 

Lots of kimono are lined up in a row. I actually didn’t expect the quality of the kimono, but it was a wrong expectation. 

Vivid colors are popular with foreign customers, so a variety of vivid colored kimono is well assorted at the studio. 



There are 3 types of studios you can have a picture taken. 



This is a photo studio of a Japanese style garden. The perfect setting brings out the beauty of maiko san. 

There is a movable roof, so you don’t have to worry about the bad weather during a shooting time. 





The second studio used to be a traditional Japanese dining room, called “ozashiki”. 

Maiko and geiko perform dance at ozashiki usually, so the studio makes the scene very realistic. 





The third studio has a wall of Chiyo papers. 

If you want to have a charming picture, the studio is the best choice. 

All the studios have a traditional taste of Kyoto. The relaxing atmosphere is around the studios, so you can feel comfortable while having a shooting session. 





◼︎How It Goes?  — The Flow of Transforming into Maiko—



This time, Lily kindly allowed us to share her experience on this article.
She is on the single travel from Taiwan. She is very interested in Japanese cultures, so she decided to have the special experience at Aya. Very excited to see how she will change her appearance! 





|Makeup Process 



The method of maiko-style makeup begins with applying some oil on her skin as foundation primer. 

After the oil, white foundation is taken over the oil. 

All of the makeup items are the exactly same as what maiko use daily. 




After the face is done with white liquid foundation, the next part is the neck. 

Using white powder is an important step to make her face and neck look the mat finish. 




According to the makeup staff, applying the white foundation and powder is the hardest step of all. 

She takes time to look Lily a real maiko. 




After the base makeup is finished, it movies to eyebrows. 

The shape of maiko’s eyebrows is straight and thin with a red color, so it’s sometimes difficult to draw the shape on customers’ eyebrows, especially foreign customers. Then, the staff tries to draw the most suitable shape of eyebrow on each of the customers. 




The next step is putting on eyeliner, a key element of the makeup. 

The makeup staff asks a customer’s preference for boldness of eye lines, so your desire is prioritized. 




Red lipstick is applied next. The red color looks very well on the white skin. 




On the eye lines, she applies pink eyeshadow. 

The order of the process of the eye makeup depends on the staff of the day. 

Lily prefers a girlish makeup more than a cool taste, so the staff uses pink eyeshadow instead of a red eyeshadow. 




The eyeshadow is also taken on the lower eyelids, it makes her eyes look bigger.  

Now the makeup is done! She looks very attractive with the makeup ! 






|Hair Styling – Wig 



The next step is styling her hair. 

At Gion Aya, a customer doesn’t have to make an additional payment on the backside wig (usually it costs additionally). The backside wig, also called a half wig, is required her own hair to finish the styling, so it looks very natural. 



Lily has black hair, so it’s not wired at all! 

There is a blackening hair spray available at Gion Aya, so if you have bright hair colors, no worries. The spray is easily washable with normal shampoo.

For customers who don’t wash their hair to take of the spray afterward, a full wig is also available. In addition to the full wig, the staff can edit pictures to make the hair black if it’s needed. 



Lily has natural black hair, but it’s partly brown, so she uses a blackening spray to make her hair look completely black. 





|Dressing Kimono 



As she likes a girly taste, so she’s stuck on deciding one between several red and pink kimono. 

She looks serious while choosing kimono from many! 


The makeup staff is also a professional wearer of kimono. You can have an advice from the staff if you’re stuck on deciding one like Lily! 

All the kimono are well made and very close to kimono which genuine maiko wear. 



Lily decided to wear a red kimono. She looks great in the kimono! Look at the beautiful patterns. 



To avoid kimono loses the perfect shape, the staff tightens strings.
Lily said it feels too tight. Kimono is hard to wear. 



Obi, the best sash for her kimono is chosen by the staff. 

The seven-meter long obi is styled as a Darari No Obi, one of maiko’s symbols. 




The staff can change the length of darari no obi change depend on her height. It’s truly a professional technique. 

Now I can understand how she makes obi fit on each customer. Well trained skill!





There is a wide variety of flower kanzashi. 

Maiko’s kanzashi shows the seasonality, so it changes every month. 

The staff also helps Lily to choose the best one by considering both her preference and the seasonality. 

The staff knows the importance of maiko’s culture, so she tries to follow the rules as many as she can. 



The White kanzashi perfectly fits the red kimono! The kanzashi also adds the girlishness on her.









Lily’s chosen to have photos taken at two studios, ozashiki and chiyogami rooms. 

The professional photographer gives her ideas how to get into a pose for pictures. 

There are lots of items she can have during the shooting. She picks a folding fan, the most popular item at Gion Aya. 



At the studio of ozashiki room, the photographer asks her to move her neck and hands at the best angles. 





|Go for a Stroll 


After having enough pictures at the studio, it’s time to go for a stroll! 

Right after she started walking on a street, tourists ask her to have a picture with them. 



It feels like she is a fashion model walking to a runway. 

Thank you Lily for your cooperation! 



Gion Aya is a place where helps girls to make dreams come true with solid techniques! 









■ Information

Not only the skillful techniques, but it also gives the perfect customer service. The staff at Gion Aya prioritize customers’ opinions first of all, so you can enjoy the special experience without any worries. 

To learn the true culture of Japan, to change appearance for a day, it’s a perfect place to satisfy those desires! It’s foreigner friendly!  




 Stdio Plan  4studio shots / 10minutes free photo time  ¥11,500
 Courtyard Plan  3courtyard shots / 10minutes free photo time  ¥12,500
 Walking Plan  4studio shots / 60minutes walk  ¥13,500
 AYA Luxurious Plan  1studio shot / 1courtyard shot / 4outside location shot / 30minutes walk  ¥19,500
 AYA Ultimate Plan  2studio shots / 2courtyard shots / 8 outside location shots / 30minutes walk  ¥29,500
 Couple Plan  2studio shots woman only / 2studio shots with both man and woman / 10minutes free photo time  ¥19,500
 Family Plan   2studio shots for each person / 1studio shot together / 10minutes free photo time ¥25,000









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Nanaka Shirasawa
Nanaka Shirasawa
It’ve been 20 years to live in Kyoto.
No place to I possibly can live except Kyoto.