Maiko Sighting in Highashiyama, Kyoto

The area of Higashiyama in Kyoto is normally a major hub for the city’s cultural sights, around every corner there is a photo opportunity, but combine this with the peak weekend of Cherry Blossom season and basically it was like all the planets were aligned!

Just 100 metres from Kiyomizu Temple we ambled into a Maiko photo shoot at a shrine, not once in my 2 years of living in Japan had I ever experienced this, nor seen a Maiko so close up. A Maiko is an apprentice Geisha, a Japanese performer of the traditional arts. Seeing a Maiko or Geisha in the flesh is breathtaking, from the kimono and accessories to the make up and poise, these women are living treasures.

A Maiko wears white makeup on her face and on the nape of her neck, leaving 2 or 3 stripes of bare skin exposed. The scarlet-fringed collar of a Maiko’s kimono hangs loosely in the back to accentuate the nape, considered a highly sensual part of the female body by the Japanese. Her kimono is brightly coloured and includes an elaborately tied sash called an “Obi” hanging down to her ankles. A Maiko, like a Geisha walks with very small steps on traditional wooden shoes called “Okobi” which stand nearly 10 cm high.

I hope these photos give you a better idea of this experience …

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