Had a Maiko make over experience and it was breath taking, literately. First of all, starting from the underclothing, breathing feels like a privilege. Every breath becomes an effort. After 2 hours of hair, make up and serious layers of clothing, the faux Maiko me is made. Tata! Asian deluxe me.

Maiko, kyoto, Local Girl Foreign Land

I have big respect for Maiko-san and Geisha-san, of course. Their craft is a perfected ancient art form. All qualified Maiko / Geisha not only dress in style, but also highly skilled musicians (ancient type), graceful dancers, qualified class etiquette and knowledgeable in Japanese history & politics. Did I mention that they also need to be fluent in honourific Japanese? That’s a different world of Japanese that even the locals battle with.

Well, after this dress up experience, I have a bunch of question marks… These are my top 4.

Maiko, kyoto, Local Girl Foreign Land

Mystery #1

Maiko/Geisha does not sweat or have any shiny spot on their face?

The attire has 4 layers exclude belt, which is already the simplified version. How on earth does the real Maiko float around effortless all evening and WITHOUT sweat? They dance in this as well. Kyoto is not exactly cool in summer. Has anyone ever spotted any of them sweating? or have a shiny spot? I certainly have not.

Mystery #2

How do they breath? I almost faint when the photographer asks me to kneel and sit on the tatami. No kidding, I really feel faint as I can hardly breath. As I kneel, the obi digs into my chest and having my weight on the back of my heels is also killing. Who invented this way of sitting?!?!?!?

Mystery #3

The sleeves are a meter long, each. How do they serve a meal and pour anyone tea / sake elegantly without damaging the $1m worth of art that she is wearing? This things is jacquard silk.

Maiko, kyoto, Local Girl Foreign Land

Most of their kimono are one of a kind, hand made textile masterpiece. They wear ART, not clothes. Serving drinks and food wearing art sounds like a risky business to me.

Mystery #4

How do they walk so fast?

For anyone who has come across a real Maiko / Geisha, one will notice that they can walk very fast and silently. Their shoes are more than 3 inch high and weirdly shape, plus the movement restricting kimono. How the hell?!?!?!?

3N5A8110 Maiko, kyoto, Local Girl Foreign Land Maiko, kyoto, Local Girl Foreign Land

As you can see, I almost roll off the stairs. Both hands on the rail.

P.S I no longer dream of becoming a geisha.

Maiko, kyoto, Local Girl Foreign Land

How to get here and do this?

Kyoto, Japan

There are lots of photo studios that offers this type of service. In Gion and also near the Kiyomizu temple. Walk in a few to spot the special deals.

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For comparison sake… this is a before photo, sans make up

 

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Author

30+ Paris. Laughs a lot. Writes about travel to fight beauty hoarding. Rooibos tea. Blogging is my loving hobby.

6 Comments

  1. What an amazing experience you had . Did you get time to sing and play Koto? I remember one evening we were walking around the little stone alleys near Gion as the Maiko were coming out for the evening and heading off to work. One was sitting on the kerb having a smoke and patting a cat. I must look for that photo.

    • I didn’t sing or play. I battled to breath, so I was going no where haha. Sounds like an amazing moment that you’ve captured. You must find that photo and share.

  2. Great post! I’m going to Japan in March. I don’t think I’ll take part in this but I bet my wife would love to.

      • Yes that’s why we chose that date. We’re coming from England so lots of things to do in a short time (18 days). Flying into and out of Tokyo. Anything you recommend as a #1 must-do?

        • I am in London 😀 haha, small world. Too many things to do in Kyoto. My favourites are:
          A) Cutlery Kikuichimonji – kitchen knifes made by samurai sword method in Sanjyo dori street *hold onto your wife, lots of shopping.
          B) Arashiyama for a picnic. Lots of small shrines and temple. Some even have an open area for you to practice calligraphy.
          C) Local cooking class – Kyoto is famous for their tofu made items.
          D) Pre-book a kaiseki lunch or dinner. Or if you are hardcore, try to prebook the gourmet bentou from Hishiiwa JR Kyoto Isetan (菱岩) *need to book 3-4 days in advance, no kidding.
          Outside of Kyoto:
          A) Miyajima – floating shrine. Iconic photo shoot and UNESCO site.
          B) Osaka spa world – CRAZY indoor onsen in every setting possible. Has many restaurants within the building as well. I was so relaxed that I could not leave. Also in Osaka is the living and house museum – they made a replica of the old Osaka.
          C) Himeiji Castle, white hero of Japan – Sakura time is the BEST.
          D) Shirahama, Wakayama-Ken – Oldest natural onsen in Japan. Think taking a open air bath less than 2m from the sea. Listen to the crashing waves as you relax. March is out of season for Japan, so you’ll have their fine sandy beach all to yourself. The town also feature foot onsen while you dine sort of restaurant.
          E) Tokyo university – they have a whole corridor of Sakura. Think pink all over your head and pink petal dancing in the wind.
          E) Ninja Asakusa restaurant in Tokyo – ninja style food, served by a ninja waitron, comes with ninja magic trick show

          I can write 10k words on Japan *LOL*. Maybe I should email you instead haha. If you want, I can send you an itinerary 😀

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