Geisha : Maiko Vs. Geiko

Differences between Maiko-san and Geiko-san

Most people is familiar with the world Geisha (How can you not know famous movie “the memoirs of Geisha”?). In Kyoto dialect, Geisha is known as Geiko.


Left – Maiko, Left -Geiko


Maiko is an apprentice of Geiko. The word “mai” means dance and “ko” mean child. Maiko will go through 5 years of training until they reach the age of 20 and become Geiko.

There are about 80 Maiko and 200 Geiko in Kyoto to-date (May 2015).

Maiko has unique hair style and ornaments whereas Geiko wear wigs. The kimono, obi and make-up are also different as you can see in this photo.


Maiko (Left) Geiko (right)


I attended the wedding of a good friend and had a chance to have a little chat with Geiko san. According to her;

1. Maiko can’t wear western cloths except on off-days.
2. While on job (aka wearing a kimono), they can’t use cellphone.
3. Many Maiko quits after they turn 20. Either they graduated and choose different life path or they get married.
4. When they get married, they have to quit.
5. The oldest Geiko-san in Kyoto (one-san as they called) is 83 years old.
6. The Kimono is extremely expensive.
7. Maiko redo the hair every few days. She need to sleep on a special pillow so her hair can stay nice the way it is.
8. The service costs 30,000~ yen per hour.


Photo cr. JNTO and the City of Kyoto
(c) The city of Kyoto and JNTO


There are many studios in Japan that offer the Maiko-cosplay service. It could be one of the most unique experience you could have for your Japan trip.

If you are interested, please check it out!!  >>> Maiko makever experience


Kyoto Tourist information center

For optional tour reservation and inquiry, please contact or visit our Tourist information center in Kyoto.




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