What is maiko?
Kyoto, the former capital of Japan, is known for its rich history and traditional culture. It is home to many geisha districts, including the famous Gion district, where visitors can catch a glimpse of maiko and Geiko walking to and from their appointments. Maiko, who are typically aged 15 to 20, undergo a rigorous training process to become a fully- fledged Geiko. This process can take up to five years and includes training in traditional Japanese dance and music, as well as lessons in tea ceremony, flower arrangement, and other traditional arts. They also learn to wear the elaborate hairstyles and kimono that are characteristic of maiko and Geiko.
One of the most distinctive features of maiko is their appearance. They wear brightly colored kimono and have long, flowing hair styled in a traditional manner. Their kimono are adorned with intricate patterns and designs, and they wear a variety of hair ornaments, such as combs and pins. They also wear white face makeup and red lipstick, which is meant to accentuate their youth and beauty.
What do maiko do?
Maiko typically work in Ochaya, which are traditional teahouses where guests can enjoy a meal or drinks while being entertained by maiko and Geiko. Ochaya are typically small, private establishments that can only be accessed by special invitation or introduction. In addition to entertaining guests in Ochaya, maiko and Geiko also perform at traditional Japanese arts and cultural events, such as tea ceremonies, shrine festivals, and other special occasions. They are also often hired to perform at weddings and other private parties. One of the most popular ways for visitors to experience maiko culture in Kyoto is by enjoying a maiko performance and dinner. These performances, which take place in Ochaya or special event halls, feature maiko and Geiko performing traditional Japanese music and dance. Dinner is typically a traditional Japanese meal, often including Kyoto’s famous kaiseki cuisine. See this page to discover more about maiko.
Can you see maiko in Kyoto outside ochaya?
Another way to see maiko in Kyoto is by taking a stroll through the Gion district, where many Ochaya are located. Visitors may also be able to spot maiko and Geiko walking to and from appointments. However, it is important to note that it is considered disrespectful to take photographs of maiko and Geiko without their permission. While maiko and Geiko play an important role in preserving and promoting traditional Japanese culture, their numbers have been in decline in recent years. This is due in part to the high cost of training and the lack of interest among young women in pursuing a career as a maiko or Geiko.
A TV drama is bringing attention to Maiko
Recently, a Netflix show called “Makani: Cooking for the Maiko House” has brought renewed attention to the world of maiko and Geiko. The show follows the story of two teenage friends, Kiyo and Sumire, who are both 16 years old. They live in a small, rural town in Aomori and are fascinated by the traditional culture of Kyoto. On a school trip, they visit the geiko district in Kyoto and are captivated by the peaceful atmosphere. They decide that instead of going to high school, they will move to Kyoto to study to become maiko. The show demonstrates their strong bond and their shared love for food, as it is portrayed in the very first scene where Kiyo’s grandmother serves them traditional Japanese dumplings and red bean soup. As they eat this meal, the girls express their delight and happiness through their facial expressions and it serves as a symbol of good luck for their future plans. Kiyo did not seem to be cut out for becoming a maiko and had a hard time. She almost gave up the idea of becoming a maiko and was about to quit being an apprentice. However, because everyone at the maiko house loved the foods she cooked, she was able to continue to stay at the maiko house as a makanai a chef who cooks meal for maiko living there. Note that the term “makanai” can mean both the foods prepared for employees and also someone who cooks such foods. This drama got really popular in North America, Europe and elsewhere. The viewers are already keen to watch season 2 of this drama. As of this writing no announce has been made about the season 2 of “The Makanai” but there is a high possibility that there will be season 2. See here.
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