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Can you tell the Difference Between a Maiko and Geisha?

Posted on June 7, 2020 at 8:00 PM

Although Maiko and Geisha may appear similar, there's quite a few differences. A Maiko is an apprentice Geisha or "Geisha in Training" and are usually between the ages of 15 and 21.  Maiko have a more elaborate hairsyles, which is complimented with kanzashi, a hair ornament used for traditional Japanese hairstyles. Maiko will leave a strip of bare skin unpainted at their hairline. Maiko wear more vibrant and colorful kimonos, which represent the youth and beauty of a Geisha. Kimono Patterns may include cherry blossoms, maple leaves, autumn grasses, turtles, and cranes. A Maiko’s kimono sleeves are longer and their inner collar is usually red or white with decorative pattern. The sleeves of the Kimono trail down to the floor, which symbolizes a Maiko's unmarried status. The Eri (collar on the back of the Kimono) is decorated.

Geisha wear more demure, less patterned Kimonos, which symbolize maturity and adulthood . The Higher the rank of a Geisha, the more restrained the patterns. A Geisha’s inner collar of her Kimono is plain white. A Geisha wears a wig, rather than using her own hair in creating a simple modest hairstyle. Geisha paint their face completely white.

A young Maiko only paints the bottom lip red, whereas an older Maiko and Geisha will paint both upper and bottom lips. Maiko and Geisha wear wide belts which go around the waist and drapes down at the back. Maiko’s obi  (belt) is longer and Geisha’s obi is shorter. A Maiko wears high wooden shoes, whereas a Geisha’s shoe is much lower.

Beauty Secrets of a Geisha

Posted on June 7, 2020 at 12:50 AM


What is the Make Up Process for a Maiko or Geisha?

The makeup process for a Maiko and Geisha begins with application of bintsuke-abura, a special kind of oil.

This is then followed with white powder mixed with water that is applied to the skin with a special bamboo brush. The nape of the neck has the  W or V shape of clear skin which has no white makeup. Maiko has a "W" shape whereas a Geisha has “V” shaped bare skin at the nape of the neck. The hairline too is not painted white so as to give an illusion of a mask.

The eyebrows and eyes are drawn, with traditional charcoal. Maiko have red around her eyes, which distinguishes a Maiko from a Geisha.

The rank of the Geisha can easily be identified by looking at her lips. First year Maiko only have their lower lip filled with color. Only a full-fledged Geisha may have her lips fully colored red.  The intent of lip make up for a Maiko or Geisha is to give the illusion of a flower bud.