How To Differentiate Between a Geiko to a Maiko?





Some of the most iconic symbols of Kyoto are geisha, women who dedicate themselves to the preservation and performance of traditional arts and culture.

 
Called Geiko in Kyoto, these women live and work in five hanamachi, or "flower districts" around the city, where they stay as long as they wish until choosing to marry or retire.

Girls who want to begin studying to become geiko usually enter this world after graduating middle school, and are known as Maiko apprentices. It usually takes a maiko about 4-5 years to become a geiko.

A favorite subject for photographers both professional and touring, people can often be seen milling about teahouses and certain festivals hoping for a glance of these artistic ladies.
 
What, though, is the difference between a geiko and a maiko?

Just by looking, how can you tell? In order to illustrate this point, the Kyoto Fan team had the utmost pleasure to shoot with Kofuku-san and Fukunae-san, two women working for the Shigemori Teahouse in the Miyagawa-cho geisha district. Kofuku-san is Fukunae-san's "elder sister" mentor in the okiya, or "geisha house". Both women perform song and dance and serve customers at banquets, and occasionally appear in public performances or festivals. While maiko are beloved for their youthful charm and colorful clothing, geiko are lauded for their experience and elegance. With these two lovely women providing example, let's take a look at a few of the key differences betweekn a geiko and a maiko's appearance.
 
 
How To Differentiate Between a Geiko to a Maiko?
 
Geiko
 
 

How To Differentiate Between a Geiko to a Maiko?
 
Maiko
 
 
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IN TERMS OF WEARING MAKE-UP
 

How To Differentiate Between a Geiko to a Maiko?
 
Though make-up can vary depending on personal preference, a geiko's make-up tends to be more subtle. As a geiko matures, she may move away from white facepaint and appear in natural tones.
 
Upon becoming a geiko, women paint their entire lips when wearing make-up.
 

Maiko always wear vivid, strong make-up
 
Maiko always wear vivid, strong make-up, accenting their eyes, brows, lips, and the shape of the face with pink and red.
 
For maiko, however, it's considered cuter to paint the lip only partially, achieving a "small mouth" look.
 
 
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NOTICE THEIR KIMONO'S COLLAR

The collar of a geiko's under-kimono is plain white
 
The collar of a geiko's under-kimono is plain white.
 

Maiko wear patterned collars utilizing the color red
 
Maiko wear patterned collars utilizing the color red.
 
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NOTICE THEIR KIMONO'S HEM LENGTH
 

Geiko's kimono have padded hems
 
The kimono geiko wear have padded hems to ensure the garment falls beautifully, with sleeves that are considered to be "normal length".

Maiko wears much longer sleeved kimono
 
Maiko also wear special hikizuri kimono with padded hems, but their sleeves are much longer.
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NOTICE THEIR KIMONO'S OBI KNOT STYLE
 

Geiko wears taiko musubi style obi knot
 
Geiko usually tie their obi in the drum knot (taiko musubi) style.

Maiko wears darari obi
 
Maiko, however, have very distinctive trailing style called darari obi, which take a great deal of strength to tie.
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HAIRSTYLE
 

How To Differentiate Between a Geiko to a Maiko?
 
The more mature geiko use simple hair accessories and commonly wear carefully styled wigs when working.

How To Differentiate Between a Geiko to a Maiko?
 
In contrast, maiko uses their natural hair to form their elaborate hair styles, and their kanzashi hair ornaments are large and colorful. You can actually tell what season it is by looking at the decorations in a maiko's hair.
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SANDALS / FOOTWEAR
 

How To Differentiate Between a Geiko to a Maiko?
 
Geiko footwear consists of low zori or geta sandals.
 

How To Differentiate Between a Geiko to a Maiko?
 
High, unpainted okobo shoes are a distinct sign of a maiko.
 
 
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There are only few women who are dedicate Geisha in Japan, so if you happen to saw one, we suggest to pay respect and request for a photo with them :D
 
 
(Photos from Discover Kyoto)
 
 
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30 LOVES AND COMMENTS:

  1. This is great! I'm dreaming about Japan and I definitely want to see geisha in real and this post is really great to understand more about them. Great pics too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Sabrina,

      Geisha are real artists, who dedicated their life for the old craft. They are rare now, and I would be sooo lucky to even have a selfie with them :D

      Delete
  2. never knew this about the difference, whenever i see the asian beauties, i usually think they were the same as i see in korean or japanese movies and so on, but now i know better. i will save this for more reference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you dear! I will share more about Geisha and Maiko soon!

      Delete
  3. Thank you for this elaborate description. Never knew they were 2 different categories.You have put in good pics too to explain the differences.

    ReplyDelete
  4. wow, they have some strange but cool hair styles and make up is on point.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Tara,

      Yeah, each makeup stroke symbolizes something. I love their craft!

      Delete
  5. This was such an interesting read. What gorgeous girls. I love all the details.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Love this, I never knew the difference. This post has got me wanting to visit Japan!

    Lennae xxx
    www.lennaesworld.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Lennae,

      Yes please visit Japan. And don't miss an opportunity to have a souvenir photo with them. There are very few Geisha and Maiko in Japan.

      Delete
  7. I may not have noticed the differences before but I certainly see them now. What a rich culture, it was interesting learning a little bit about it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Julie,

      Yeah that makes Japan a very worthy place to visit. They have combined modern days with the old cultures, it never fails each other making Japan stronger.

      Delete
  8. These women are like walking pieces of art! So elegant and so beautifully attired. Thanks for sharing this info!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Lydia,

      Yeah they are living Art, and I am one of the people who loves the idea of it. I truly wish that Philippines have maintained its unique tradition - but sadly our culture was (in my opinion) almost forgotten because of Western cultures.

      Delete
  9. I actually like the wooden shoes. I wouldn't be able to tell the difference if you didn't write this article.
    Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am glad that you've learned new things from Japan through this website. I feel humbled.

      Delete
  10. This is amazing, I just thought all where Geisha and didn't know there was a difference between those in training and full Geisha. This is so cool I loved this post

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Anosa!

      The age gap especially in women in Asia (particularly in China, Korea and Japan) are very important. It is good to know how to properly address them and how they should act and live according to their age. In the West countries it is different they don't mind.

      Delete
  11. This is a neat post. From the makeup to the shoes...I really enjoyed reading it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. How lovely a piece! I have always wanted to visit Japan and find the Geishas fascinating!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Dear!

      I believe they also host a Geisha workshop, though very rare opportunity. You should check that to your tour company.

      Delete
  13. Culture is so fascinating! I love the makeup and hair I wonder how long the prep goes into getting dressed. Its very interesting about the differences between a geiko and a maiko. Thank you for sharing! stunning women!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe it take an hour up to two hours for the whole preparation, and they never rush things. They perfected the craft and its a disgrace to just be in a hurry.

      Delete
  14. I didn't know anything about Geiko and Maiko. I have seen the women's wearing similar costumes at Disney's Epcot but always used to thing that they would be some characters. Thanks for providing a vivid insights about them through your pictures!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome Ana. Yeah there are many Geisha costumes around but their genuine grace is very hard to imitate. Even their small and stares are divine.

      Delete
  15. They are beautiful. I never knew the difference. It's so interesting. Really interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Valerie! There are a living art of Japan.

      Delete

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