A Maiko with her Geiko sister

A maiko is what an apprentice geisha in western Japan, especially Kyoto, is called. Their job is consisted of performing traditional dances, songs, and playing the shamisen for visitors at a feast. Maiko are averagely 15 to 20 years old and become full-fledged geisha after learning how to dance, play the shamisen, and learning Kyō-kotoba (the dialect of Kyoto), regardless of their actual origins.

Origins of MaikoEdit

Geisha tea cem1

Maiko originated from the women who served green tea and dango (Japanese dumplings made from rice flour) to people who visited the Kitano Tenman-gū or Yasaka Shrine. They also served these at teahouses in the temple town about 300 years ago.

At first the women only served the green tea and dango, but they eventually performed songs and dances for the visitors as well.



Hair styleEdit

The maiko hairstyle is called 'nihon-gami' (a Japanese traditional hairstyle from the Edo period). They arrange their hairstyle with their own hair and insert Kanzashi (Japanese traditional hair accessories) into their hair with the seasonal flowers. The hairstyle always changes by the years of experience they have. 


A maiko wears a kimono with the train trailing on the floor, they wear the darari-no-obi (special obi just for maiko) over the train, which is five meters (sixteen-feet) long and it hangs from their waist to their ankles.


In the morning-time, a maiko takes lessons to polish and hone their performances, then at night they go out to work at various events and parties. They are usually given the opportunity to feast at high-class Japanese-style restaurants, or stay in Japanese-style hotels. They will perform dances, songs, play the shamisen, and serve the visitors with sake. And in recent time, their jobs have also expanded to include visiting nursing institutions or hospitals, some maiko are also dispatched overseas.
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