October 3, 2016
Why people are attracted to Maiko
Longing to be a Maiko
Maiko Makeup Step by Step
Become a Maiko
October 3, 2016
by Mayumi Otsuka, Mai Takezawa, & Kanako Wakamatsu
In Japan, geiko are women who wear beautiful kimono, paint their face white, perform songs or dances, and play a traditional Japanese stringed instrument called the shamisen. Geiko have existed for about 300 years, and are more commonly known as ‘geisha’ outside of Japan.
Originally, geiko were the girls who served tea. Later, the tea was changed to alcohol, and the girls came to not only serve alcohol, but also perform songs or dances. At this time, the girl was called a geiko. To become a geiko requires lots of training. Girls who train to be geiko are called maiko. Now, geiko and maiko are one of the most popular symbols in Kyoto. Not everyone can be a maiko; there are certain qualifications. In this article, we are going to introduce 3 important points related to how to become a Maiko: age, house rules, and strict training. We are going to reveal some surprising facts about Maiko, too.
Only girls between the ages of 14 and 17 can start their training, and the age limit is 20. The reason is due to child labor laws. These girls must decide their future after they graduate from junior high school, but they do not need to worry about their school career and other requirements. Maiko must also have Japanese nationality.
Maiko must live and train in a training house called an ‘okiya’. In the old days, because being a maiko was thought of as deeply traditional work, generally families who had connections or relationships with an okiya could send their daughters to become maiko. But nowadays present Japan is modern, so there are some websites for finding the right okiya and also for the recruitment of new maiko.
There are 5 main organizations of maiko and geiko. It is called ‘Gokagai’ in Japanese. They are Gionkoubu, Miyagawachou, Pontochou, Kamishitikenn and Gionhigashi. When a girl is introduced to one okiya, she can meet the landlady. However, nowadays maiko is an especially popular job among woman, so if there is no financial support from the okiya, she cannot go to train.
The last trial is an interview with the landlady. The landlady looks to see if the girl can put up with the hard training of being a maiko. She also looks at how much mutual understanding their is between the girl and her parents. If she judges that the girl cannot put up with the hard training or is not suitable for this work, then she rejects the girl.
Life in an okiya is unimaginable for us. Maiko is a traditional thing, so there are many strict and traditional rules. Okiya is a place where people gather, so maiko have to live in a community-style life. Okiya is not a for-profit business; they pay for all of the girls: their life, their food, clothes, makeup tools and more. For this reason, the landlady is always very strict. She always judges the girls, and tests their strong intentions and humanity. It is said that one’s look is not the most important qualification of being a maiko, but you have to improve both your humanity and figure.
After the final interview, at last the training will start. The training term is called the ‘preparation term’. The girls live in the okiya, and learn Japanese dance, Kyokotoba, behavior, and the manner which is called ‘iroha’ in Japanese. The landlady and other trainers check the girls behavior in daily life. The girls have no free time of their own. Half of applicants fail on this point. It means the training is so hard, and they must do their best every time. Maiko is beautiful work on the outside, but the hidden side is strenuous and challenging. At this point, it is hard for the girls to imagine that luxurious work of a geiko is in their near future.
Once girls finish the preparation term, they can be a maiko. Before then, they are called ‘minaraisan’ which means ‘not enough’. The main work place is called ‘ozashiki’, where the girls can treat customers with their dance or song. After 5 years of being a maiko, it is called ‘nennki’ in Japanese. They cannot receive a wage because they have to give the okiya their money during the training term. Also, they cannot quit their job.
Being a maiko is a specific job because maiko is not the end goal; it is a training position. When girls become about 20, they are eligable to be a geiko, which is the main goal for a maiko.
The shape of a girl’s body is certainly an important point toward being a maiko. Girls must wear shoes called ‘oboko’, which are 10cm high, so the girls cannot be too tall. Also, a Maiko must be accomplished in several areas, so they must develop skill in Japanese dance, Japanese songs, and in playing the shamisen. They also must learn kyokotoba, which is the traditional Kyoto dialect. The work of Maiko is hard, so girls must find ways to work hard and overcome their difficulties.
There are some prohibitions in the maiko world. The first is that girls cannot take a bath for a week, because their hairstyle is difficult to make again. Second, is that girls must not enter food stores and cafes, because the image of the maiko is important. Maiko must maintain the pure image of traditional culture. Third, maiko are prohibited from using a cellphone in the presence of other people. This is also related to the problem of maintaining a traditional image. Finally, maiko are not supposed to talk while they are walking. It is a kind of maiko manner.
Finally, after finishing this strict training, maiko can become geiko. As we said before, it is very strict. However, it is a traditional thing, so we should not be quick to change the rules, but rather protect the traditions to maintain the image of Kyoto throughout the years.
A maiko is a woman who trains as a Geiko. To become a maiko you have to be 14~17 years old, and have Japanese nationality. To train as a geiko, maiko have to live in okiya and do a lot of strict training related to performance, behavior and so on. Maiko is one of symbols of Kyoto and also one of the old Japanese traditions, so we have to respect this tradition. In addition, one of the maiko’s manners is that they cannot talk while they are walking, so if you see Maiko on the road, you cannot talk to them. This is the reality of the maiko.
by Koudai Kobayashi and Akari Mihashi
Kanzashi is a traditional Japanese hair accessory for women. In English we might call it a ‘traditional Japanese hair ornament’. Historically, it was made of many different materials, for example, wood, gold or silver-plated metal, elephant tusks, and even silk. But recently, it has come to be made of plastic. For the part of the charm, other rare materials are used, such as coral, agate, jadeite, and crystal.
The origins of kanzashi lie in ancient Japan. At that time people believed that a special power was contained with a thin stick, and by inserting the stick into ones hair, evil sprits or bad energy could be warded off. So, kanzashi was originally thought to be more of an amulet rather than a hair accessory.
In the Nara period (710~794 AD), what we now know as kanzashi came to Japan via China. Then, in the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1573~1600 AD), the hairstyle of Japanese women changed from long straigt hair to a variety of hairdos, thus the need for greater varieties of hair ornaments. At that time, the creation and use of kanzashi became more popular.
In the early Edo period (1603 AD) in Kyoto, hanabira kanzashi (flower kanzashi) began to be worn by women. When that style made its way to Edo (what is now Tokyo), it evolved into Tumami kannzashi (we explained this type of Kanzashi below No. 4)
After the middle of the Edo period, kanzashi became more and more popular and its shape became more diversified, for example, slim ones, wide ones, and elliptical ones. Moreover, the designs became even more beautiful, colorful, and elaborate.
In the Meiji period (1868~1912 AD), in association with westernization, Japanese women adopted a more western-style look, so kananzashi became out of fashion. But nowadays because of its history and usefulness, kanzashi has become popular again.
There are now a wide variety of different kanzashi designs. Also, the price has become much more affordable, so we can buy kanzashi more easily.
These days, there are many kinds of Kanzashi. Here are some examples.
It is a thin and slender kanzashi. It has one or two legs. Originally, it was used by samurai class woman. On the top, there is round, rhombus, or flower-pattern ornament. It was originally made with silver, wood, or bamboo. Nowadays however, it is mainly made of plastic, because it is inexpensive.
This is a form of kanzashi that looks like an ear pick. At one end, there is a small colored ball. This ball can be made of many different materials, such as amber, lapis lazuli, jade, tortoiseshell, elephant tusk, glass, plastic, etc.
This type of kanzashi is similar to tama-kazashi, but without the ball at the top. It was made of metal traditionally, but is now also made of plastic. It used to be for married woman to wear. In the case of geisha, they can wear two such kanzashi, but in case of a prostitute, they can use any number of yoshicho kanzashi.
It is also called ‘hana-kanzashi’ because it is made into the shape of a flower. It is made of colorful silk. Tsumami-kanzashi is now often used by maiko (geisha-in-training).
As stated above, maiko are geisha-in-training. They often wear hana-kanzashi, which contain flower designs that follow the seasons of the year. In Kyoto, we can see the change of the season from the hana-kanzashi the maiko wear.
In January, pine, bamboo, and plum are common kanzashi motifs. The crane motif is also used, and it is made to appear very lively.
In February, pretty plum flowers are often used. In the days before the beginning of spring, we also see ornamental ball-shaped scent bags on kanzashi.
In March, we see rape blossom,narcissus, peony in use. Especially, the rape blossom is the most typical flower of this season.
In April, weeping cherries are common. The weeping cherry blossom is the quintessential flower of the Japanese spring, so wearing cherry blossoms on their kanzashi makes maiko look very cute.
In May, blue iris and Japanese wisteria are often used on kanzashi. In the old calendar, May signifies the rainy season, so people use a fresh color.
In June, hydrangea and willow is often used. In this month the color of Kanzashi becomes blue or green, which looks fresh. Also, the color of the maiko’s kimono changes to a lighter shade.
In July, the whole city of Kyoto is enveloped in the spirit of the Gion festival, so the style and kanzashi of maiko becomes very lively. Their kimono becomes a light color and goldfish are also used in their kanzashi. When we see kanzashi in July, we can feel cool, refreshed, and festive.
In August, morning glory and silver grass is often used. In the old calendar, August is early autumn, so the design of kanzashi becomes cooler. Morning glory is a Japanese summer tradition.
In September, bellflowers and Japanese bush clovers are often used. At the time, the atmosphere of Kyoto is perfect for relaxing.
In October, the chrysanthemum, which is the typical flower of autumn, is the main mofif. From small to large chrysanthemums, a variety of designs appear in the kanzashi.
In November, the red leaves of autumn are fantastic in Kyoto, so as you might imagine, the Kanzashi of maiko displays the same beautiful red leaves of autumn. It makes this season more colorful and beautiful.
In December, gorgeous flowers and bringers of good luck are used a lot, because in this month, people are very busy to prepare for the next year. For this reason, the design of Kanzashi is a splendid one.
In Kyoto, there is a good Kanzashi shop, where there are various types of Kanzashi.
Please click this link and go there to buy your favorite Kanzashi.
Che cos’è Kamogawa odori? Kamogawa odori è una rappresentazione di danze splendidamente eseguite da maiko e geiko (le geisha di Kyoto), che ha avuto origine nel 1872. Il tempo di rappresentazione è di un’ora e si svolge in due parti. La prima è una rappresentazione teatrale con danza e la seconda è uno spettacolo di danza.
Elementi della danza: L’immagine comune che si ha delle maiko e delle geiko è quella di persone che danzano elegantemente, ma nella prima parte è molto differente. Questa ha infatti inizio con maiko e geiko che, cantando nagauta (canto e dialoghi) come in una specie di musical, raccontano la storia agli spettatori. I temi di Kamogawa odori sono tratti dalla storia giapponese e da racconti della tradizione. Vengono utilizzate varie tecniche del teatro kabuki. Le scene di battaglia con le spade di legno e quelle delle zuffe fra donne sono molto vigorose. Le scene in cui un uomo cerca con insistenza di sedurre una donna, essendo mute, sono molto divertenti anche per gli spettatori stranieri che non capiscono il giapponese. La seconda parte è uno spettacolo di danza con una storia eseguito dalle maiko e dalle geiko, che comprende elementi del teatro kabuki. La geiko è una donna dall’aspetto dignitoso ed elegante. La maiko danza in modo ingenuo e grazioso, e adornando il costume con fiori di glicine ci fa sentire l’atmosfera delle stagioni.
Quando e dove si possono vedere le danze Kamogawa odori?
Dal 1 al 24 maggio sono rappresentate tre volte al giorno (12:30-, 14:20-, 16:10-)
Al teatro Pontocho Kaburenjo; INDIRIZZO: Sanjo Ohashi Nishizume, Nakagyoku, Kyoto
Se si comprano il biglietto speciale con tè o il biglietto del tè….. si può partecipare alla cerimonia del tè e bere il tè preparato dalla geiko, gustando un dolcetto tradizionale. Oppure si può portare a casa un piattino (kiyomizuyaki) come souvenir. In questo modo è possibile avvicinarsi alla cultura giapponese.
INFORMAZIONI (in giapponese e inglese): http://www1.odn.ne.jp/~adw58490/
Che cos’ è MIYAKO ODORI .
MIYAKO ODORI è una danza tradizionale molto raffianata delle maiko e geiko di Kyoto. Le geiko sono le geishe di Kyoto, e le maiko sono le apprendiste geishe. Miyako odori significa letteralmente “danza della capitale”, cioè danza di Kyoto, in quanto Kyoto era l’antica capitale imperiale del Giappone. La tradizione è nata nel 1872, le danze sono composte da otto scene, e una rappresentazione dura un ora. I temi principali sono la storia e i racconti tradizionali giapponesi, oppure eventi famosi recenti, e sono basati sul motivo tradizionale delle quattro stagioni. Assistendo a una rappresentazione di miyako odori si possono apprezzare la tradizione e la cultura giapponesi.
Elementi della danza
Maiko e geiko esprimono i sentimenti con i movimenti del corpo, senza usare le espressione facciali. Usano tutto il corpo, dalle dita delle mani alle dita dei piedi, e danzano in modo a volte raffinatamente elegante e avolte in modo vivace. Il fatto che si vestano anche da uomo è molto interessante. I costumi sono kimono tradizionali, i cui disegni sono considerati portafortuna. Usano come attrezzi di scenacome oggetti tradizionali come sensu (ventagli) e cho-chin (lanterne giapponesi in carta) che vui consiglio di ossarvare con attenzione.
Le canzoni e la musica sono eseguite dal vivo. Le canzoni hanno uin carattere solenne, e sono chiamate nagauta (letteralmente canzone lunga). La musica ritmica è suonata con strumenti a tre corde (shamisen), percussioni (taiko) e flauto traverso (shinobue). Forse suona un po’ monotona alle orecchie degli occidentali, ma è tipica musica giapponese tradizionale. Per apprezzarla occorre stare attenti ai delicati mutamenti che accompagnano i cambiamenti di scena, e che sono capaci di far risaltare la bellezza della danza, comunicando l’atmosfera graziosa ed elegante della Kyoto tradizionale.
Sul fondale sono dipinti luoghi famosi che tutti i giapponesi conoscono. Anche il fondale ha un carattere stagionale, in quanto vi sono dipinte piante come i ciliegi (simbolo della primavera) e gli aceri (simbolo dell’autunno). Il cambiamento di scena è molto veloce, come si addice a uno stile moderno.
Quando e dove si possono vedere le MIYAKO ODORI?
Dal 1 al 31 aprile sono rappresentate quattro volte al giorno (12:30; 14:00; 15:30; 16:50).
Al teatro Kyoto Gionkobu Kaburenjo. INDIRIZZO: 570-2 Gionmachiminamigawa Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto 605-0074
Se si compra il biglietto speciale…
si può partecipare alla cerimonia del tè giapponese prima della rappresentazione. Le geiko preparano il tè e le maiko lo servono agli ospiti. Si dice una maiko che serve il tè è come un’ “opera d’arte in movimento”, ed è un’occasione per vederle da vicino. Si mangia un dolce giapponese con il tè , e alla fine si riceve un piatto come souvenir.
INFORMAZIONI (in inglese) http://www.miyako-odori.jp/english/index.html
Ayane Okubo, Kyoko Kasami
Il Museo Internazionale dei Manga di Kyoto è nato dalla cooperazione tra la città di Kyoto e l’Università Seika di Kyoto in cui esiste una Facoltà di Manga. Originariamente l’edificio era la sede della scuola elementare di Tatsuike, però col tempo gli scolari sono diminuiti, e la scuola ha dovuto chiudere definitivamente. Ancora oggi all’esterno si possono vedere elementi che appartenevano alla vecchia scuola elementare, come parti degli edifici e gli alberi di ciliegio.
Il museo svolge tre funzioni principali: è una biblioteca dove si possono leggere liberamente i manga; è un museo nel senso stretto del termine, ossia una galleria per l’esposizione dei manga (soprattutto al primo piano); è un centro di ricerca, sede del Centro Studi Internazionale sui Manga dell’Università Seika di Kyoto e dell’ufficio della Società dei Fumetti Giapponesi.
All’interno c’è la biblioteca per bambini in cui si trovano tremila libri illustrati. Si entra a piedi scalzi, e i bambini possono leggere i libri illustrati in libertà come a casa propria. (In Giappone si entra nelle case a piedi scalzi). Anche gli adulti possono entrare, e quindi tutta la famiglia può passarvi il tempo piacevolmente.
Nel museo si può vedere Kamishibai, un teatrino ambulante in cui il racconto viene accompagnato da illustrazioni su carta. Kamishibai è una delle forme di intrattenimento tradizionali del Giappone, ed è l’origine dei manga e dei cartoni animati. Alcuni famosi fumettisti, come ad esempio Shigeru Mizuki, prima di diventare fumettisti disegnavano le illustrazioni di Kamishibai. Una delle opere più popolari, famosa anche all’estero, è Fantaman. Al museo il narratore di Kamishibai vende anche dagashi, merendine giapponesi di una volta.
Orari degli spettacoli:
Nel museo ci sono cinque sale per l’esposizione dei manga. La sala principale ospita l’esposizione permanente, mentre le altre quattro ospitano mostre speciali o a tema, e cambiano tre o quattro volte all’anno. Nelle esposizioni si possono vedere le tavole originali dei fumetti, che sono molto importanti per comprendere le intenzioni dell’autore, e forniscono materiali di studio indispensabili per gli aspiranti fumettisti. Nelle foto sopra si vede la mostra “43 anni, 18000 tavole. Tutte le tavole originali di Tsuchida Seiki” che era in corso quando abbiamo visitato il museo. Le tavole erano esposte sulle pareti e sul pavimento. Il contenuto delle esposizioni è vario: ad esempio, in passato ci sono state esposizioni di costumi creati imitando quelli dei personaggi dei manga.
Nel museo sono conservati circa trecentomila manga, e se ne possono leggere liberamente circa quarantamila. Nella “parete dei manga” sono raccolti manga a partire dal 1970. Il pianoterra è per i manga per ragazzi, il primo piano per quelli per ragazze. Il secondo piano è per i giovani adulti. Ad ogni piano ci sono cataloghi elettronici per la ricerca delle opere.
Al museo nei fine settimana si tengono corsi di disegno e colorazione dei manga. (Per i corsi di gruppo è necessaria la prenotazione.) Inoltre tutti i giorni si possono usare liberamente i computer per creare fumetti. E c’è l’angolo “bottega dei manga”, dove si possono vedere fumettisti professionisti al lavoro e fargli domande. Due o tre volte al mese si tengono anche eventi di cosplay (si veda il sito internet per i dettagli).
Inoltre c’è un angolo dove ci si può far fare il ritratto (giovedì, sabato, domenica e giorni festivi, dalle 11:00 alle 17:00; una persona 1000 yen, due 1800 yen, tre 2500 yen).
C’è naturalmente un negozio di souvenir dove si possono comprare tanti oggetti legati al mondo dei manga. Fra i visitatori italiani è molto popolare tenugui, un asciugamano giapponese, con motivi del manga Mazinga-Z. C’è un caffè ristorante sulle cui parete si vedono le firme di tanti fumettisti famosi, e alla ricezione c’è una signora che parla italiano!
Informazioni per la visita
• apertura: lunedì – domenica (10:00-18:00; ammissione visitatori fino alle 17:30)
• il mercoledì è chiuso
• biglietto: adulti 800 yen/ scuola media, liceo 300 yen/ scuola elementare 100yen
Prendete la metropolitana e scendete alla stazione di Karasumaoike. Potete prendere la metropolitana dalla stazione JR di Kyoto, dalla stazione Hankyu di Karasuma e dalla stazione Keihan di Keihansanjo.
by Maria Kakiuchi and Akane Ogawa
Oiran was a kind of ‘woman of pleasure’ of the Edo period (1600~1868) in Japan. Unlike common street prostitutes, oiran were glamorous courtesans, who were cultivated in the traditional Japanese arts, the classics, calligraphy, tea ceremony, waka poetry, the shamisen (Japanese harp), and the game of go. This made them primarily entertainers. They were very popular in the brothels of the Yoshiwara in Edo (now Tokyo), Shinmachi in Osaka, and Shimabara in Kyoto. One can read about oiran in traditional Japanese literature, as well as see images of them in ukio-e, a genre of woodblock prints and paintings. Of course the oiran seen in ukiyoe works is more opulent than real.
Back in the Edo period, sometime prostitutes were put on display behind bars for potential customers to look at. This practice was called harimise. Oiran, however, did not practice harimise. On the contrary, oiran took an active role in the process of selecting a customer. In this way, we might say that the oiran chose the customer, rather than the other way around.
If a man really wanted to be with an oiran, he first had to make contact with a tea house and have lots of money. Next, he had to engage in a three-step process to get together with an orian. In the first step, the oiran just sits and observes the customer. She does not eat, drink, or talk, but rather just gets a feeling for the potential customer. If he passes that stage, the next time he comes, the oiran gets closer to the customer, but doesn’t interact much. This is also a testing period. Finally, if the man makes it to the third stage, he can go into a room with the oiran. He must present her with a set of chopsticks with his name engraved into them, along with an envelope of congratulatory money. From that point, he is forbidden to visit other prostitutes. To do so would be considered cheating, and would be seen as a great insult.
In edo period, the oiran would dress in their best costumes to go and collect their valued customers and bring them to the teahouse and on a special day. Then they would parade around the area of the pleasure quarter with their most beautiful and ornate clothing on display. This included the wearing of two combs, and six Japanese hairpins in the front and six in the back. This style of Japanese hairpin was particular a sign of nobility.
Some people might certainly ask the question, “What is the difference between a geisha and an oiran? Aren’t they the same thing?” The answer is, “No.” Although they appear to be similar, in that they both dress up in beautiful traditional clothing and entertain guests, the geisha never were involved in prostitution like the oiran were. Instead, the geisha specialized in playing the host at private parties, with dancing, music, and games. In fact, the rise of the geisha corresponded with the fall of the oiran. They were much more accessible to the common visitor, rather than just for rich men who wanted sex.
Although the oiran have died out, the tradition of dressing like one still remains. In fact, you can experience dressing like oiran yourself right here in Kyoto! The place is called, Oiran Keiken Studio Yumekoubou, which translates into something like ‘Oiran Experience Dream Studio.’ If you want to take some amazing photos of yourself dressed like an Edo period Oiran, there are the steps you need to take:
1. Call to book an appointment. You should try to book one as soon as possible, because sometimes it’s already fully scheduled.
2. Go to the studio on the day and time of your appointment and the staff will give you some information about oiran.
3. Get your face made up by professional make-up artist. Then, if you have an image that you want to be, for example, looks big eyes, be sexy, pretty and so on, just tell your image to them and they will make it happen. It doesn’t matter if you are already wearing make-up or not when you arrive. They will take care of everything. If, however, your skin is weak or has some alleges, you should tell your artist about it before he or she gets started. It’s okay to put contacts on, but it could be a bit uncomfortable, so make sure you bring your contacts case with you in case you have to take them out. Also, if you really want to put on the make-up by yourself, you can. But there is no telling how it will look.
4. Choose your hairstyle. There are mainly 2 styles.
Classic style. This is a wig. Ornamental hairpins are the main characteristic. We recommend it for people who have short hair.
Modern style. This is done with all of your real hair. No wigs involved.
You can choose the hairstyle you want, and the artists will do it for you.
The classic style is popular with most customers because it gives them the traditional image of being Japanese, just like the oiran really were back then.
5. Choose a kimono. There are about 30 different kinds of kimono in the studio, so you can choose the one you want to try. Kimono are all the same cost, so you can choose the color and design freely.
6. Take pictures. A professional photographer will take your picture. The purpose of taking the picture is you get right into oiran. Then, the photographer will capture your beauty. A space is also provided so that you can take pictures with your own camera. You can’t have an experience like this so often, so this is a perfect opportunity to capture your memories of Japan.
7. Choose the photos you want to keep. If you see some really good ones, you can buy them directly from the studio.
* Pregnant women cannot dress up like oiran, because of the tight girdle they must wear.
* There is no parking area. Therefore, you should come by bus or taxi. The studio is very close to Gion bus stop.
You want to make good memories in Japan, why don’t you try it!
Oiran Keiken Studio Yumekoubou
Kyoto-city, Higashiyama-ku, Yasaka shinchi sueyoshi86
Junya Kitagawa and Miki Suzuki
As sushi is now well known all over the world, there are many sushi bars located in many different countries, and a lot of people have become familiar with it. All over Japan you can find sushi bars serving many different kinds. “Mamezushi”, which we would like to introduce here, is one type that originated in Kyoto.
“Mamezushi” is often called “Maiko zushi”, too, because its birthplace was Gion, in Kyoto, an area which is also famous for Maiko, or apprentice Geisha. Maiko have a cute little button for a mouth, with the perfect size and shape for eating sushi. Mamezushi means small sushi bean in English, as the shape is small and spherical.
In top-class Japanese restaurants, 15 kinds of Mamezushi are presented in a box and served to customers. The kinds of mamezushi shown here, are from the upper left, squid sandwiched between sheets of kelp, mackerel oshizushi, bamboo shoot, pickled tuna, masuzushi, pouch of fried bean curd stuffed with vinegared rice, shrimp, butterbur, egg, pickled rape blossoms, kelp boiled in sweetened soy sauce, eel, Japanese ginger, with squid and pickled ginger to the lower right. When the customer first removes the lid to begin to eat, they cannot help but be impressed with the beautiful colors before them, and almost always feel the urge to take pictures of it. However they not only look elegant but also have a very refined taste. Each one tastes different to the others, and we do not have to put on any soy sauce, which makes it a little healthier for us.
There is really only one place where we can eat Mamezushi in Kyoto, and this is the top-class restaurant “Mametora”. This restaurant has a calm atmosphere and is peaceful and comfortable. The restaurant is located on Hanami-Koji Street, which is actually quite noisy, however, you do not notice that once inside the restaurant. There are 3 types of seating available here: the counter seat, where you can see the inner garden, a private room, where you can eat lunch or dinner in privacy and relaxation, and on a covered table placed over a recess in the floor of a Japanese-style room. Of course, you can enjoy a special lunch or dinner whichever seating arrangement you choose.
The restaurant has two service times, lunch time and dinner time. Lunch time is from 11:30 a.m. to 02:00 p.m. and dinner time is from 05:00 p.m. to 09:00 p.m. At lunch time two options are available, one is “Mamezushi-Zen”, which consists of five courses.The main course Mamezushi, is served 4th, and before that courses containing foods in season are offered, with the final course being a dessert. The other option is “Mamezushi-Sara Zen”, which consists of 6 courses, and offers many kinds of foods in small dishes in addition to the courses of “Mamezushi-Zen”. At dinner time there are other options. The first is ”Mamezushi-Kaiseki”, with different courses. With this you can eat Mamezushi, deep-fried food, grilled fish, meat, or chicken, and 4 courses containing foods in season. The second is “Choice Mamezushi-Kaiseki”, which offers 6 courses. In addition to the courses offered in “Mamezushi-Kaiseki” we can eat one-pot type dish cooked at the table. “Mamezushi-Kaiseki” costs ￥3,800 per person, “Mamezushi0-Sara Zen ” costs ￥5,800 per person, “Mamezushi-Kaiseki” costs ￥9,680 per person, and “Choice Mamezushi-Kaiseki” costs ￥13,200 per person. As the dinner courses are so expensive, we recommend you try the lunch courses. They are very reasonable and you can enjoy plenty of Mamezushi. Fundamentally, the restaurant does not close on a regular day, however, on holidays, there will surely be a lot of customers and few empty seats. Therefore, making a reservation before arrival is certainly a good idea. You can actually now make reservations either by telephone or online.
There are a lot of ways to access this restaurant because it is located in the heart of Kyoto city, and near some famous places, for example, Kiyomizu-Temple and Yasaka-Shrine.
・Kyoto City Bus: you can take the “Gion Express” bus from Kyoto Station to Gion Bus Station, and thereafter it is a 3 minutes walk to the restaurant.
・Keihan-train: if you take the train, please get off at Sanjo-Keihan Station, and thereafter take a 5 minute walk to the restaurant.
・Hankyu-train: if you take this train, please get off at Kawaramachi Station, and then take an 8 minute walk to the restaurant.
・phone number:075 532 3955
In addition to enjoying this great traditional cuisine, please visit the two places of interest mentioned before. Kiyomizu-Temple is very famous, and many travelers wish to visit it. The view from this temple is really beautiful, and will give great memories. Yasaka-Shrine is also famous, and especially for its connection to the “Gion festival”. If you have time, please visit these wonderful places, too.
by Yukari Maruoka; Miku Nogami
In Kyoto, you can still spot maiko and geisha when you walk around well-known hanamachi districts such as Gion or Miyagawa-cho, because Japan still has women who are carefully trained in the traditional arts and ways of this refined and renowned element of our culture. But if you’re a woman visiting Kyoto, even a non-Japanese, you can go a step beyond just seeing maiko; you can also try the transformative “maiko experience”. While you won’t learn to play music on a shamisen, speak an arcane local dialect or walk as if you’re floating on air, you can dress up to look real enough to fool many tourists into taking your photo!
Costume play or “cosplay” is a key part of contemporary Japanese culture, and the maiko makeover is the ultimate example. There are several businesses in Kyoto which make it possible to “be” a maiko for a day. One chain is called Yume Koubou (夢工房), which means “dream atelier.” Its three Kyoto locations are perfect, because whichever you choose, you can easily make a convenient plan for costumed sightseeing. One store is at Kyoto Station, and another is even close to Kiyomizu Temple, Kyoto’s number one tourism spot, so after you’ve donned your kimono, makeup and wig you can stroll over to the lovely ancient temple and take a picture with the ideal exotic atmosphere.
If you are stuck in Tokyo and haven’t got the chance to come to Kyoto, don’t worry, because there is a Yume Koubou store in fashionable Ginza.The staff at these shops are all women, so they do everything for you from applying makeup to dressing you in your complex kimono. Once you “look the part”, a professional photographer takes a digital picture of you, after which you can adjust the image to make yourself look even more beautiful.
Koubou has six ways to make customers happy: location, facilities, makeup, kimono, transformation and photography. The facilities include a reception room, where you can wait in luxury with an excited heartbeat. And there’s a powder room where you can use all the amenities and the staff will help prepare for your return. Lockers allow you to store your valuables safely during your makeover or while you are out on the town.
A professional makeup artist does your makeup for you — one who is studying every day under real maiko’s and geiko’s instructions. They are aiming for the ultimate beauty; it’s like their motto. And they use oil-free makeup, so everyone from children to adults, including people with delicate skin, can use it without worry.
There are many styles and colors of kimono, so you can choose whatever you want, and the same goes for the obi (sash).Concerned about your hair? No need! They use a full katsura wig that fits everyone well, and have contracted with a famous katsura maker of long standing. As a result they offer an attractive, original shape that is one-third lighter than conventional katsura. These six ways of pleasing customers are the secret of the popularity of the best shops in the business of “maiko/geiko transformation”.
There are many plans for maiko experiences, so you can choose whichever suits you. For example, if you want to “be” a maiko, then take pictures in the studio, it costs 9,975 yen. If you’d also like to ramble around town the price rises to 13,125 yen. Or you can go to a good location to be photographed like an actress for a bit more: 14,175 yen. You can have both the studio shoot and a location shoot for 16,800 yen. In addition, there are mother and daughter plans, children’s plans for kids ages 5-12, student field trip plans, and a jinrikisha plan and they also have 3 men’s makeovers, one of which is samurai warrior style, which harkens back to the Age of Warring States (sengokujidai).
My mother and I chose the parent and child plan, which was simply to dress up as maiko and take pictures. The parent can choose either geisha or maiko, whichever she wants. My mother chose maiko at the recommendation of the staff, but usually older people choose geisha. Maiko are more gorgeous and colorful. Geisha are simple and their kimono must be black. Still, if you are not so young but you want to be a maiko, just choose a dark-colored kimono and it will not be strange. However, before you put on your chosen kimono, do not forget to use the restroom. While you are wearing a kimono it is difficult to use a toilet.
First of all, they put on your makeup. And your face and neck will be pure white, with delicate eye shadow in red and eyeliner which is brushed on in bold strokes. Bright red will be painted onto your lips. That is a maiko’s face. And then, don’t forget, you cannot touch your face and neck or your hands will get white and you may stain your expensive kimono.
Next, you will select a kimono and obi. There are between 20 and 30 kimonos to choose from, with many kinds of color schemes, motifs and designs. Only about 10 minutes is needed for putting on the kimono. Then comes your wig. And your breathing may become labored because your torso will be wrapped tightly with a cord and obi sash.
At last, my mother and I had our pictures taken by a professional photographer in a studio with a number of furnishings and props. About 20 exposures were taken of various poses. Afterwards they let us take some pictures by ourselves with our own cameras or cell phones. And then we were able to choose five pictures from the 20 pictures we had been shown. The finished prints were sent to our home one month later. The total “transformation experience” took us about two hours. We did not need to prepare anything in advance.
I asked some questions to the staff, who told me that many foreigners come to this shop. Some days only foreigners come! Spring is the busiest and most crowded season because it is the best season in which to see cherry blossoms.
Please try the “maiko transformation” experience when you come to Kyoto. Another good makeover studio which has an English section on its website is Studio Shiki.
by Naoko Iseki and Hajime Yozaki
Maiko and geiko are traditional performers whose job it is to add zest to a dinner by singing, dancing, and playing the shamisen. They are also a symbol of traditional Japanese culture. Are you interested in maiko and geiko and the kimono they wear? Kimono is one of the most well-known traditional costumes in Japan. Perhaps, we associate kimono with maiko and geiko. They are really beautiful!
Visitors to Kyoto can also dress up as a maiko. Here is what some customers said about their experience:
Now, we will introduce some shops where you can dress up as a maiko in Kyoto.
The main office is located near Kiyomizu Temple. After being transformed into a maiko, you can go for a walk around Kodaiji Temple, Nene Road, Sannen-zaka, Ninen-zaka, Yasaka Shrine, and Chion-in Temple. Shiki has 200 kimono, and you can choose which one you want to wear.
Maiko Stroll Plan
Cost: 13,000 yen
Time required: two and a half hours
・Contents: twelve poses taken in the studio, a stroll lasting an hour, and a photo book containing twelve pages
Samurai Plan (for men)
Cost: 8,500 yen
Time required: one hour and 50 minutes
・Contents: twelve poses taken in the studio, and a photo book containing twelve pages
Address: 351-16, Masuya-cho, Kodaiji-Minamimon, Higasiyama-ku, Kyoto, JAPAN
Access: a five-minute walk from the city bus stop “Kiyomizu-michi”
Tel: 075-531-2777 Fax: 075-533-2244
Shiki also has two branches, Sakura and Kitano.
The first branch is located in Gion. You can take a walk around Kiyomizu Temple, Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park, Sanjusangen-do, and Kenninji Temple. Sakura has 150 kimono, and you can choose which one you want to wear.
Maiko Sakura Plan
Cost: 6,500 yen
Time required: one hour and 50 minutes
・Contents: two poses taken in the studio, and an album containing two pages
Maiko Studio Photography Plan
Cost: 8,900 yen
Time required: two hours
・Contents: six poses taken in the studio, and an album containing six pages
Samurai Plan (for men)
Cost: 6,500 yen
Time required: one hour and 20 minutes
・Contents: two poses taken in the studio, and an album containing two pages
Address: Building-Shiki, 110-9 Tatsumi-cho, Todaiji-Matubara noboru, Higasiyama-ku, Kyoto, JAPAN
Access: the shop is front of the city bus stop “Kiyomizu-Michi”
Tel: 075-533-6666 Fax: 075-533-6667
E-mail and HP are the same as the main office
The second branch of Shiki is located near Kinkakuji Temple. Nearby are Kitano-Tenmangu Shrine and Ryoanji Temple. Kitano has 150 kimono, too, and you can choose which one you want to wear. The plans available at Kitano branch are almost the same as the main office, Shiki.
Address: 54-4, Hiranotoriimachi-Cho, Kita-ku, Kyoto, JAPAN
Access: Near the city bus stop “Wara-Tenjin-Mae”
Tel: 075-462-3777 Fax: 075-462-1117
E-mail and HP are the same as the main office
※If you want to dress up as a geiko, you have to pay an additional 2,100 yen.
The shop is located near Kyoto Station. Maika has 400 kimono, and you can choose which one you want to wear.
Cost: 6,500 yen
Time required: one hour
・Contents: two pictures, and free photography in the shop
※If you want to dress up as geiko, you have to pay an additional 1,500 yen.
This is the most popular plan in this shop!
Cost: 13,650 yen
Time required: one hour and a half
・Contents: four pictures, 60 minutes’ free photography, and a 30-minute stroll from the shop to Ebisu Shrine
Cost: 15,750 yen
Time required: one hour and 45 minutes
・Contents: four pictures, 60 minutes’ free photography in the shop, and a 45-minute stroll from the shop to Kenninnji Temple
Okigaru Samurai Plan
Cost: 6,500 yen
Time required: one hour
・Contents: two pictures, 60 minutes’ free photography in the shop
Cost: 12,600 yen
Time required: one hour and 20 minutes (max.)
・Contents: two pictures, and 60 minutes’ free photography in the shop
Address: 4-297, Miyagawa-suji, Shijo-kudaru, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, JAPAN
Access: a three-minute walk from the station “Gion-Shijo,” on the Keihan line or a five-minute walk from the station “Shijo-Kawaramachi,” on the Hankyu line
This shop is located near Kiyomizu Temple.
Cost: 8,800 yen
Time required: one hour
・Contents: a post card, and a free photograph
※This shop accepts only 3 groups per day for the plan.
Maiko Geisha Henshin Plan
Cost: 19,800 yen
Time required: one hour and a half
・Contents: four pictures, and free photography
※With this plan, you can experience dressing up as both a maiko and a geiko.
Cost: 9,000 yen
Time required: 40 minutes
・Contents: two pictures, and free photography
※Women also can experience this plan.
Address: 6-583-70, Gojobashi-higashi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, JAPAN
Access: a five-minute walk from the city bus stop “Gojo-Zaka”
Tel/ Fax 075-531-1166