Gion and our encounter with 2 Maiko and a Geiko

After a snooze we decided to go back into town and see what ‘Lonely Planet’ (the book) calls “one if not the most beautiful street in Asia” and who knows get lucky enough to run into a Geiko.

Well entry to the Gion district, this area of Kyoto dates back to the middle ages, and developed into the most known Geisha district in Japan, isn’t as glamorous as you might think or expect
A little disappointing, but this on the other hand is quite impressive
6 floors, 1 basement and a roof of restaurants and bars

Shirakawa Dori, has kept its original traditional look and is a simple row of wooden houses, restaurants and tea houses.

Apparently at night when the restaurants are open, it’s a beautiful place. We didn’t get to see that but we did run into 2 Maiko

Now there is a big difference between a Maiko and a Geiko. Geiko is the Kyoto way of saying Geisha.
The Immortal Geisha website has a lot of info about this, but in brief:

– A Geisha is not a prostitute as many think but a person (sha) trained in (traditional Japanese) arts (gei), such as dancing, singing, music.
– Geisha wear a wig and very few, plain hair ornaments
– Their face makeup is subtle
– Kimono’s have shorter sleeves, are of a solid color with a motive around the hem, and maybe sleeves
– Their Obi is narrower and of a much plainer design with a simple box bow at the back
– Their collar is plain white
– Depending on the occasion a Geisha will wear either zori or geta


– Means “dancing child” (mai = dance, ko = child)
– Is a geiko in training, she will go through about 5 year of training in the various “gei” (arts) such as dancing, singing, music etc before she becomes a Geisha
– Maiko wear their natual hair in a vaiet of styles, based on how long they have been in training, with colorful hairornaments made of silk, which vary depending on the month of the year
– Thei make up is more obvious, cherry pink around eyes, on cheeks andlips and a ribbon if skin around hairline is left without the white foundation
– Their kinono’s are bright and noisy, with long sleeves that nearly reach the hem of the kimono
– Obi are colorful wide and have a long trailing bow at the back
– Collar of their kimono is heavy, embroidered and red, and becomes plainer with the passing years
– She wears Okobo on her feet, high unpainted wooden clogs/slippers

This picture shows well how their make up doesnt go all the way to their hairline

Shirakawa canal, with Ochaya, the original teahouses where geisha’s entertain

I was exited to get to see a real geisha AND 2 maiko’s, even The Smurg thought it was nice, but then she loves pretty colorful things.

If you want to know more about Geisha’s WIKI has a great article about them HERE



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