The Life of a Maiko: An Apprentice Geisha

  • Handing down traditions from one generation to the next is a very difficult task with the constantly changing society. You might have heard of “geisha,” the famous Japanese female entertainers in Japan. But have you ever noticed their apprentice?


    They almost have the same job., but Maiko are normally 15-20 years of age and they have to undergo a special training which will take them 10 months to master.

    Origin of Maiko


    About 300 years ago, the task of a Maiko was to serve green tea and dango in the famous temples of Kyoto. These were the Kitano Tenman-gu and Yasaka Shrine. Everything started from here. Later on, they didn’t only serve food but also offered to sing and dance in order to entertain the visitors.


    Just like the geisha, the maiko has a special kind of kimono wear. This is known as hikizuri. Since this is 200 cm in length, the maiko will have to hold her hikizuri up when walking outside. A maiko can wear whatever pattern or color she wants. However, black is the only color worn during special occasions.

    Training Ground of Maiko


    The headquarters of a maiko is in Kyoto. As mentioned earlier, they will have to stay there for 10 months. Each maiko has a senior geisha. She is the one responsible for training the maiko. The maiko does everything together with her senior, including eating and sleeping in the same room with her. They must give high honor to her at all times. When the senior geisha leaves the house, they have to wait for her at the entrance hall until she’s gone. When she comes back, they have to kneel down on the floor with their fingers down and say “Welcome back, ma’am.” However, there are also perks to becoming a maiko, such as the opportunity to travel overseas. Some are also given the chance to eat at high-end restaurants.

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