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Maiko For a Day

Posted on 28 April 2011

Ok, so the last entry was a cheeky little trick! Pictured here is me and my friend Mariko in full maiko, apprentice geisha, outfit. I've always wanted to don the white make up and the full kimono of a Geisha. Friends of mine will know that I love playing dress up and this time I finally got the chance!  After a bit of research, we found the Shiki Kitano, a small studio in quiet Higashiyama-Ku. An historical part in Eastern Kyoto, boardered by the Higashiyama mountain range, World Heritage Kiyomizu Temple, Yasaka Shrine and just in front, the entertainment district of Gion where Geisha have entertained for centuries. 
The ladies were reluctant to let us document the process with photos, so all I have is the following images which were taken after wards in traditional streets around the studio. The process of getting made up and being dressed by two to three professional dressers took about 45 minutes, after which we marveled at our reflections. I chose a deep purple kimono and a black and gold obi with my favourite sakura and hexagon combination.
According to the ladies, I made for a convincing Maiko, on account of my traditionally sought after round face and features.  When we took our stroll along the lanes of low rise shops and houses, believing we were authentic Geisha, we were stopped numerous times for photos. Giggles!
I like this photo very much, it shows how the obi is tied and left hanging loose, worn exclusively this way by maiko and young girls.  The white make up exposes the back of the neck, and the collar of the kimono is worn seductively low.  Being in full make up, several layers of under kimonos, padding and reinforcements is akin to being in a corset. It's constricting but gives you very upright posture, transports you back in time and makes you feel positively feminine and demure. I can't wait for the next time I'm back, I'd really like to try the more elegant Geiko style of dress!

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