Unique experience in Kyoto : Maiko makeover!

Hello everyone!

One of our very first few blogs, I introduced the differences between Maiko and Geiko. If you haven’t read it, please check it out! Click

When I was a student in Kyoto, one activity I always wanted to try was the Maiko makeover experience. However, being student on a scholarship  (a.k.a. very tight budget), I didn’t have that chance despite living in Kyoto for several years.

Kyoto Tourist Information Center made my dream comes true when they asked me if I want to try this experience during visit to Kyoto earlier this month. Why not! It’s going to be fun. There are several plans offered but I choose the cheapest one, makeover and photo shoot at the studio, 7,580yen (price listed on the web is 9,500 yen, definitely a bargain!)

I asked Kyoto Tourist information to make a reservation for me at Studio Yume Koubou, Kyoto eki-mae.

There are many branches of Yume Koubou in Kyoto including one near Kyoto station which I chose, Gion, Kiyomizu temple and even in Tokyo at Ginza. I chose this studio because it’s the most convenient by train. If you like to dress up and walk around, it’s better to choose studio in Gion or Kiyomizu temple.


Before the makeover, perhaps you want to know what I look like “before”


This is me!


Studio is about 5 mins walk from Kyoto station


store front



Walk inside, take off your shoe and go to the second floor where the reception is

Reception is on the 2nd floor


First, I have to register my name in the paper. All photos taken today will be send to my home address in 2 months. If you live abroad, don’t worry. They have oversea shipping service too. Just leave your address and contact number.

I chose the photo shoot which included 3 photos and ordered extra data files with additional cost. After the registration is completed, staff at Yume koubou took me to the 3rd floor to get change and do the make up.

By the way, I think it’s best if you came here with no make up. Why? Because it will be removed anyway! I chose to come here first thing in the morning. After the shoot is done, I put on my make up (which I bought in a little bag) and continued with my sightseeing for the rest of the day.

This area is actually no photo allowed but I managed to ask staffs to snap some photos (since there was no other customers but me). The make up didn’t take as long as I expected. You see, mostly when you do make up. you will start with applying foundation or press powder first right? but here, nope, first thing they did was to put the blush on on me before applying white foundation on my face and neck area (I heard this powder is made of rice but I am not 100% sure).


I’m sorry if I scare you;P
Notice my cheekbone area is now a little blushed.
eye make-up took the longest
Maiko signature!



How to put on lipstick has some significance.

As you know (if you read my previous blog!), Maiko is an apprentice of Geiko or Geisha. They have to go through the training for 2 years before graduating and becoming Geiko. The 1st year Maiko apprentice will apply the lipstick on the lower lip only. When they moved to 2nd year apprentice, they will apply lipstick on both upper and lower lip.


applying lipstick
Today I have both upper and lower lip in red




Once Maiko graduates, they can become Geiko or choose different career path. However, if a Geisha/Geiko gets married, they have to quit.

I saw many Maiko in Kyoto but I think most of them weren’t the real deal. How did I know? From the information I got from Maiko san I met at the wedding, she told me that Maiko is not allowed to use cellphone when they are on job. Many Maiko I met have a cellphone on them and occasionally take selfie! lol


Now, I have to choose kimono



My favorite color is pink. However, on my way up here I saw that the reception area wall is pained with orange/red-ish color. I think if I wear blue/navy kimono,  it might look nice in photos. So I chose navy.


Now the “heavy” part



Maiko kimono is actually very expensive. The price could be up to 10 million yen per piece if made of silk.

If you watch the movie, “the Memoirs of Geisha”, you might know that Kimono was a present rich people gave to their favorite Geisha. I don’t think the one I wore today is that kind of expensive kimono but it sure was heavy!



Putting on the kimono and Obi


Wearing a wig



Real Maiko don’t wear wig. They do their hair once every few days. Since the hairdo takes really long, they have to sleep on a very special pillow so that they don’t destroy the hair before they get to do the hair next time. I can imagine that it must be very uncomfortable to sleep on that pillow.

Maybe that’s the reason why the number of geisha is decreasing. From the information I have, there are only 80 or so in Kyoto to date.



Do I look like real maiko now?



The dress up is done. Now it’s time for photo shoot. Since I wasn’t allowed to bring my own camera inside the shoot area, I had no photo to show you.

If you don’t know how to post like maiko, don’t worry. The camera man is quite good at his job. He told me where to sit, where to place my hand, where to look and overall I got many many satisfying photos.

It’s also advised that we don’t smile and show our teeth. Why? because of the make up, your whole face is white! If you smile, photo of yourself will be all white. Just grinning a little but do not show your teeth.

This is how it’s done!




wow… who is this? I hardly remember myself haha!

I have no actual photos to show you since I don’t have my data file from yume koubou yet. This is just a snap from sample I got on the day.

After the shoot, it’s free time. Feel free to take as many photos as you like. Here are some of mine!









I uploaded photos on facebook and no one remembered me, not even my own mother!

After taking some photos, I went back to the dressing area to get change. The make up wasn’t that hard to erase. I wiped my face off with make up remover paper and again wash with face washing foam and a lot of water. You can prepare your own if you like. I didn’t have one so I used those they provided at the studio.

Locker room and washing area


Locker room
Washing area



It took 1.30-2.00 hours total but might take longer if you choose the plan to walk around.

To end my day, I had a cup of “maiko” cappuccino at the coffee shop in Kyoto station!


Maiko cappuccino! 



Please contact Kyoto tourist information center for reservation.


Email : info-kyoto@his-world.com

Phone number : (+81)-75-253-0288

Kyoto tourist information center website

Maiko plan

Language available : English, Thai, Chinese, Korean




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