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Maiko are the apprentices of Geisha.
Generally girls who are aspiring to become Maiko enter an Okiya (Geisha houses) at the age of 15-20 in Kyoto, and are trained for some years, then they are recognized as Geisha.

Geisha are the entertainers whose skills include performing various Japanese arts such as classical music and dance.
(Unfortunately many foreigners misunderstand that Geisha are prostitutes. Please gain a correct understanding of Geisha!)

Of course, Maiko are younger than Geisha.
So they wear the brighter kimono, and very colorful obi (the kimono sash) is hung down from her back.
And they wear a pair of "Pokkuri" (high wooden footware). (Some call it "Koppori".)
Their pretty and beautiful figure is one of the symbol of Kyoto.

Maiko and Geisha entertain the guests, pour sake for them, perform Japanese dance, sing some songs in a room in ryokans or Japanese restaurants.
Additionally they lead to play light game with the guests.
Maiko's main work is to perform the dance.
The guests enjoy themselves too much, but they have good manners. (They never perform indecent acts on Maiko and Geisha.)

Basically they entertain only regular customers and the guests introduced by them. Generally, most of the guests are rich masters in or around Kyoto.
So we cannot see their performance in any ryokan.

Recently, the open events are sometimes held by the association of Geisha and Maiko.
To see Maiko or Geisha, it is good idea to join them. The registration fee is expensive.
But when you walk on the street in a Geisha district, you may find Maiko or Geisha walking to their workplace.

In Kyoto, there are five Geisha districts.

  • Gion-Koubu : The largest area. Southwest of Yasaka Shrine.
  • Miyagawa-cho : The east side of Kamo River between Shijo street and Gojo street.
  • Gion-Higashi : Southeast of Yasaka Shrine.
  • Ponto-cho : The west side of Kamo River between Sanjo Street and Shijo Street.
  • Kami-Shichiken : East of Kitano Tenmanguu Shrine

Caution !
Recently, it is reported that foreign tourists sometimes follow or gather in a ring around Maiko like paparazzi.
If you do so, weak Maiko have a scare. You aren't a guest of the Maiko.
Please watch Maiko from a distance.

Gion Hatanaka : Ryokan with the event of "Kyoto Cuisine and Maiko Evening"
Gion Shinmonso : A ryokan with Geisha and Maiko in Gion
Yume Koubou / Studio Shiki / Gion AyaMission Gion : If you want to transform yourself to Maiko, please try.

Maiko Pokkuri Maiko in Gion
Maiko in Kyoto
Q.Sawami/ JNTO

Room entertainment by maiko (Photo by Gion Hatanaka)

Maiko play
Maiko play
Maiko dance Maiko dance

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