1. Difference between maiko and geiko!

Difference between maiko and geiko!

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Nanaka Shirasawa

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


The Differences Between Maiko and Geiko(Geisha)?



We, Enchanted Time with Maiko, welcomed Geiko, not Maiko on the other day. We have been meeting and working with several Maiko, so it was the first time for me to see Geiko in front of me.
I’d like to talk about the special moment today.


Blog of ETM when geiko(geisha) came


Geiko have different attractiveness with that Maiko have and it’s hard to describe enough how beautiful she is. When I see Maiko, I feel much of their charm and amiability. Geiko, on the other hand, are not considered as just charming, yet they show sophisticated beauty from her inside and outside.

Her infant features are gone, her elegance and beauty are polished, and her etiquette and manners are just so beautiful. It’s impressive to see how they grow from Maiko to Geiko.

Well, let me start to talk about today’s topic.
Do you know differences between Maiko and Geiko? Maiko and Geiko are called the same name, Geisha, but they have several differences on their appearance and work schedules and tasks.





◼︎Maiko’s Growth To Become Geiko

Girls who are willing to become Maiko enter Hanamachi when they are only fifteen years old. They leave their home and decide not to go to high school. They starte to live in “Okiya” or house that Maiko eat and sleep together. Then they learn and develop their dance skills and everything required to live in Kyoto as Maiko.


After one-year training, girls become Maiko. When they get twenty years old, they have “Erikae”, which is an event to celebrate the beginning of Geiko.
Maiko is considered as a trainee to become Geiko, so they learn a lot of traditions of Gion, dance skills, and manners and etiquettes from senior Maiko and Geiko everyday. Maiko and Geiko’s work schedules and tasks are similar, but Geiko have a variety of duties and responsibilities. Those responsibilities are very hard, so many girls just quit their career in Gion right before becoming Geiko.


As the origin of the name Maiko came from the meaning of dance, so Maiko’s main duty is developing and performing their dance skills. Geiko are also skillful to play Japanese instruments and sing “Waka”, traditional songs in addition to dance performance. Moreover, they learn more challenging and sophisticated dance styles than Maiko do.





◼︎Difference of Maiko&Geiko’s Appearance

We are able to see the differences by their appearance.




| Hairstyles


When you look closer at their hairstyles, you can notice that they have slightly different hair styles. Special meaning and seasonality are attached to each hairstyle and those hairstyles are made by reviewing her hair, so Maiko are expected to keep long hair and are able to wash her hair just once a week.


Geiko, on the other hand, don’t have the same rules on their hairstyles. They’re allowed to wear wigs, so they don’t have to 
keep long hair, which means they are able to have hair cut as they wish.




| Kanzashi

Maiko always wears “Kanzashi”, traditional hair accessories. The size of kanzashi gets smaller as they age and when they become Geiko, they begin not to wear kanzashi. Maiko’s kanzashi shows seasonality, so it’s changed every month. Do some of you like to see the kanzashi as well as I do?


※Here is Fukune, a Maiko from Miyagawa-cho. Kanzashi shows seasonality, so it changes every month. The left picture shows kanzashi in January. The right is in November.

(Here is another article about cute Fukuno when she came to ETM)






| Kimono

Maiko mainly wear colourful kimono to indicate their charm and amiability, so junior Maiko mainly wear bright colour kimono. As same as kanzashi, their kimono gets simpler as they age. Darker colour kimono are worn by Geiko to show their presence of calm mind of adult.



※The person inn the far left side is Geiko and other four are Maiko. While Maiko are wearing colourful and flamboyant kimono, Geiko is wearing a black kimono which has simple pattens.
The maiko who is wearing a pink kimono is the youngest one of all. Kanzashi is another difference between junior and senior maiko, so as you see the youngest Maiko has flamboyant kamzashi. The Maiko in the second from the right has built her Geisha career few years and is now wearing simpler Kanzashi. She is a veteran Maiko.


The most obvious part is “Obi”, kimono belt. Maiko wear a longer and heavier dangling obi than Geiko do. The dangling obi indicates young Maiko’s cuteness. Geiko wear shorter obi and it’s differently and simply worn compared to styles of Maiko.




| Footwear



In addition to the dangling obi, Maiko also wear “Okobo”, approximately 10cm wooden footwear, while Geiko wear ordinary foot shoes for kimono. The sound which comes from Maiko walking with okobo is poko-poko, so it’s why Maiko’s footwear is called okobo. Since okobo is about 10cm high, shorter Maiko are generally considered cuter. However, taller Geiko are considered cooler or more beautiful sometimes. Body height is one of the most important factors for Maiko to be decided when they can do erikae, become Geiko.






◼︎Conclusion: What Their Differences I Found?

By visiting Mitako Odori and Kyo Odori, and seeing Maiko and Geiko at Ozashiki organized by Enchanted Time with Maiko, I could find differences not only on their appearance, but there is also another factor, different levels of dance skills.



Think about the fields of music and sports, there are lots of talented youth whose performance puts a professional adult to shame. Just like that, in Gion, there might be some very talented girls who can learn quickly and make a thing of incomparable excellence.

I’m not that knowledgable about the world of Miako and Geiko, but there is one thing that I’m sure to say; Geiko dance more beautifully than Maiko regardless their potential, just because of their efforts from the fist day when they take a step into Gion. However, Maiko truly have charm because they are not perfect. In other words, the imperfection creates their cuteness.
Make and Geiko’s visible and invisible attractiveness is one of the reasons why I want to keep this traditional Gion world as great as we’ve had since hundreds of years.

Could you understand differences between Maiko and Geiko? Why don’t you see those differences by your eyes? Let us help you to have Enchanted Time with Maiko.




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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.