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Japanese Maiko

A maiko and geisha shoot at Manpakuji Temple, Kyoto

Maiko is a term that refers to young women in Japan who are training to become geisha. Maiko, which means “dancing child,” are recognizable for their elaborate makeup, ornate hairstyles, and traditional Japanese clothing.

Maiko training typically begins when a girl is around 15 years old and involves a rigorous and highly disciplined process that can last for up to five years. During this time, maiko learn traditional dance, music, and other cultural arts, as well as the art of conversation and social graces.

A maiko and geisha shoot at Manpakuji Temple, Kyoto

One of the most distinctive features of maiko is their makeup. Maiko wear thick white makeup on their faces, necks, and chests, which symbolizes their purity and youth. They also wear brightly colored makeup on their lips and around their eyes, which is applied in a specific pattern that indicates their stage of training.

Maiko also wear elaborate hairstyles that are created using a combination of wigs, hair ornaments, and traditional styling techniques. Their hairstyles are often designed to reflect their stage of training, with more elaborate and intricate hairstyles indicating a higher level of skill and experience.

A maiko and geisha shoot at Manpakuji Temple, Kyoto

In addition to their makeup and hairstyles, maiko are known for their traditional clothing, which includes a long-sleeved kimono, obi belt, and several layers of undergarments. Maiko also wear tall wooden sandals called okobo, which can be up to 10 centimeters high and require a great deal of skill to walk in.

A maiko and geisha shoot at Manpakuji Temple, Kyoto

Maiko play an important role in Japanese culture and are highly respected for their skills and accomplishments. They often perform at traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, banquets, and other events, where they entertain guests with their dancing, music, and conversation.

Overall, maiko are an important and fascinating aspect of Japanese culture. Their dedication to their art and their commitment to preserving traditional Japanese customs and aesthetics make them a unique and valued part of Japan’s cultural heritage.

Street scenes in Gion and Kyoto. Photography and Maiko-harassment are now banned in Gion in the afternoon and evening.