Being a Maiko

When visiting Kyoto, one of the sights most people hope to see is that of an elegant geisha, women working in five districts called hanamachi and preserving the traditional dance and music entertainment styles of centuries past.  Called geiko in Kyoto, with apprentices called maiko, these cultural icons live notoriously secretive lives, and these days only an elite few have the connections or wealth required to spend a great deal of time in their company.  Each district performs a few public dances each year that anyone can attend, but how do these women spend their daily lives?  Just how much hard work and dedication to their craft goes into becoming a geiko?


Follow a day in the life of Fukunae, a maiko in the Miyagawa-chō district who works for the Shigemori okiya (geisha house), and hear what inspired her to come to Kyoto and become an apprentice.  Learn what a normal day’s training schedule is like for these talented young women, how they do their hair, make-up and dress, and what sort of aspirations they have going forward in this short documentary, Being a Maiko: Kyoto’s Fukunae-san.


A special thanks to: Miyagawa-chō Teahouse Association (宮川町お茶屋組合), Shigemori Teahouse (お茶屋 しげ森), Kofuku-san (小福さん), and Fukunae-san (福苗さん) for their generous cooperation.