Maiko makeover (舞妓変身)

"Maiko makeover" is a kind of service offered for visitors to Kyoto City, especially around Gion area, which satisfies desires of those who adore maiko girls to transform their looks by dressing them up like maiko or geiko with kimono, a wig, kanzashi (hair stick), etc. Ordinary people thus dressed up like maiko girls are often called "kanko maiko" (tourist maiko). There are also makeover services for men and children. At the beginning, the maiko makeover service available in Kyoto Uzumasa Eigamura (Toei Movie Land) was famous. Gradually, since former Okiya houses (a tea house and lodging house where maiko and geisha live) in Hanamachi (geisha districts in Kyoto) and neighborhood photo studios began to offer the same services, the services have been spreading.

The more the maiko makeover services expand, the more tourists dressed up like maiko, for example, when they are dining in the city, are taken for real maiko by other tourists who do not know such services.

Now some people see maiko makeover as problematic causing misunderstanding about Gion culture. For this reason, the more exactly a tourist maiko is dressed up to look like a real maiko, the less freedom she will be allowed in strolling in the city.

Differences from real maiko

There are many dress codes for a real maiko, including what types of kimono, hairstyle, makeup and kanzashi should be used and how, based on their careers and the seasons, while a kanko maiko is dressed up without being bound by such dress codes.

A real maiko makes her hairstyle only with her own hair while a tourist maiko uses a wig (whole or half wig). A real geiko also uses a wig.

A real maiko holds the right and left skirts of her kimono jointly in her left hand when walking while a tourist maiko need not do so because the skirts of the kimono are hitched up and tied so as not to bother tourists who are not used to kimono having long skirts.

The white makeup of a real maiko fades naturally towards the hairline on her forehead while that of a tourist maiko is thick all over to the hairline. Few rules on the makeup of the nape are followed in maiko makeover services.

Basically, real maikos in Gion are trained not to show their teeth to their customers (when they smile or eat). The places where real maikos are allowed to dine out in their costumes are strictly limited.

[Original Japanese]