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Let me ask you something – Do you like Kyoto?
Even in Kyoto, Gion is famous as a place where yo can see many maikos in the evening throughout the year. You can invite a maiko to a banquet, which many people would say they’d like to experience once in their lifetime.
Besides, maiko, there are also people called geigi in Kyoto, who can be seen around the same time frame as maikos. They might look the same at first sight, but do you know what makes them different?
For your reference, geigis are sometimes called “geisha,” which is because it’s a stereotypical Japanese word like “Nippon! Fujiyama! Geisha!,” but this is an ancient way to call them. There are also some differences in how they’re called and the work they do. Please note that we’ll be explains about geigis in Kyoto in this article.
1. Maiko and Geigi
2. How do you enjoy time with maikos and geigi?
Maiko and Geigi
Maikos and geigi may seem to be similar, but there’s a clear difference between the two. Maiko is actually a name given to girls undergoing training to become a geigi.
In the world of maiko and geigi, girls normally enter an okiya, a school and office of performances for training called shikomi. This starts while they are in their teens. At the okiya, the girls receiving training for the performances and gain experience as they are called to banquets. This period is the time when they are called a maiko. As the name, maiko suggests, the maikos main skill to perform during this period is the “mai,” which means dancing.
In contrast, geigis are women who become independent from the okiya and work as sole proprietors. Once you become a geigi, other than “mai” (dancing), geigis start to perform “gei” (art or performance) as the name “geigi” suggests. Some of the notable “gei” are singing and playing shamisen (a three-stringed banjo). Generally, a maiko would change to become a geigi around 20 years old.
How do you enjoy time with maikos and geigis?
Image: Ryotei Kiyoshi|Pocket Concierge
So how do can you enjoy a good time with maikos and geigis? The so-called “ozashiki-asobi” or “ochaya-asobi” refers to this, and the most standard way to spend time with a maiko or a geigi, is to have them invited at a ryotei, a traditional Japanese restaurant called ochaya. Some ochayas will have it on their menu so please try it if you have the chance.
Needless to say, sake and food will be served at the ryotei, since it’s a restaurant. A time with maiko or geigi allows you to enjoy chatting, playing games, listen to singing and watch dancing.
One thing to note is that the person inviting a maiko or a geigi must display manners. For example, your attire is important. Even if you’re the one who invited them, you must be dressed in a way that is worthy of the Japanese room called ozashiki. Being barefooted or wearing shorts are not acceptable. Most importantly, maikos and geigis do not offer sexual services, so it’s not allowed to ask for such services. The right attitude to have is to respect them as artists.
However, it’s quite uncommon to find people who have enjoyed a time with a maiko or a geigi. When spending time with them, it’s important to have a respectful attitude and communicate well with them so they can teach you things you don’t know about.
Also, as mentioned earlier, since maikos are generally teenagers, you should never recommend them to drink alcohol. Being a “good customer” means to have patience to young maikos who are undergoing training and pay respect to geigis who are professionals.
At a street near Kitano Tenmangu called “Kamihichiken,” there’s a place called Kamihichiken Kaburenjo, where maikos and geigis train their skills. This place holds beer gardens and events throughout the year, allowing you to meet them in a casual way. Please try visiting this place during your next visit.
【Written By: Norio/Aeroplane】
Waltz through one of Kyoto’s nostalgia-exuding haute-entertainment districts in Miyagawacho to find Kikuya, a cultured destination for exquisite tempura and Kyoto-cuisine courses. Enjoy a show by the maiko and geigi before sitting down to some ‘ozashiki-asobi’, whilst indulging in the 90-years of history that Kikuya‘s kitchen folds into its menu. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience only available through Pocket Concierge, visit this wonderful timepiece.
Mukaijima, on the east bank of the Sumida-river that courses through Tokyo, is home to the city’s olden centers of classical entertainment. Standing alongside fellow generations-old authentic Japanese restaurants is Kiyoshi, popular as an approachable and friendly location to experience the full maiko service. Their geigi, good-natured and bright, entertain guests with classic dances, music, and a deep understanding of the essences of Japanese culture. Book and be wowed, a guaranteed old-Tokyo night to remember, and a dining experience to not forget.