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Maiko (Geisha)

What is Maiko (Geisha)

Maiko (Geisha) is the women who work and be accompanied to a client in the red-light district with a focus on Gion in Kyoto.

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Geiko entertain the client with song and dance such as the Shamisen (three strings instrument), Maiko is before to be a Geiko such as trainee.


Maiko, Giko are originated from women who served green tea and Dango (Japanese dumpling made from rice flour) to people who visited the Kitano Tenman-gu and Yasaka Shrine (these are the two of the famous shrines in Kyoto) at teahouses in the temple town about 300 years ago.
At first, women served only green tea and dango, but they gradually started to perform songs and dances with beautiful Kimono for visitors to win the marketing share.
Generally, Maiko who you meet on the streets are normal tourists who wear the Kimono of Maiko paying for the service except evening time. Even we Kyotonian are difficult to meet a real Maiko, if we don’t keep tabs on where they are.

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Maiko of Kyoto

Maiko was started training around 9-12 years old but actually by the labor law, it is not possible to be a Maiko before the graduation of secondary school. Normally, trains about half to two years, try to attend a client for one month with Geiko who is experienced.
When she passed the one month and if she get a permission of her boss and permission of the association, she will be a true Maiko. Maiko uses her own hair for make up but Geiko uses wig.
There are many details of the differences. For another example, Maiko uses kimono of lovely designed. They trained to use Kyoto dialect and everything, too. So people treat as a symbol of Kyoto by their action.
Their main job is to attend client but there are many other jobs recently like oversea dispatching, TV and commercials advertisement, condolatory visiting, etc.
The association and the “Okiya” (where Maiko and Geiko lives and work) was closed mind and accepted client only introduced by another client. But the custom is changed and Okiya became much easier to visit than before.

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