Thursday, November 27, 2008

Maiko for a Day

These pictures were taken this past weekend in Kyoto. I've been wanting to dress as a Maiko for some time now, but never had no one to go with. Then my friend asked me, and I was thrilled and we made plans for November. A Maiko is a young Geisha in training. The ones really pretty colorful kimonos and huge shoes, those are the Maiko, not Geisha. Geisha dress much more reserved. A Maiko is very young, maybe starting around 15 up to 19 years old before they become Geisha.
I have pictures of the makeup being put on, but it's rather embarrassing. I look like a really creepy ghost, so I will leave those for family and friends when I get back if they are interested, but I really don't want the whole world to see.
There are many places in Kyoto where people can dress up like a Maiko, so it's hard to choose. Most of them are like factories, churning out people in Maiko costumes. They cost about $80-100 US dollars. However, we wanted as close to the real experience as possible. So, we choose a very small shop, one that the owner actually works or has worked (not sure) in a real Geisha house. The quality of the make-up and kimonos, and hair, and everything should be better. The price is much higher of course, but it was well worth it. You get personal service. Also, we saw other people dressed up later that day and their kimonos and the quality of the makeup and fabric was not as nice, and you could see their wig line, which looked kinda funny. So I was very pleased with the services that we received. The name of the place we went is called Ka-fu. They don't have an English site and I went with a Japanese speaker, so no problem. Anyway, I felt it was way worth the money.
Above, my friend and I have just finished getting our makeup replied. I haven't looked in the mirror yet and I have no idea what I look like. Markian was laughing the whole time, because when it was only white, and there was no red, it was really scary looking! Plus this hair looked so huge on me! They used a wig and sewed it into my real hair and then added my real hair to the outside of it. They kinda wrapped it around it. I was pleased with how natural it looked. The wig was really, really heavy though!

Here I am wearing a yukata which I changed into to get made up. I have the first layer of the Maiko "underwear" under it. Then I washed my face and they did my hair first and then the makeup. The first picture is of all the kimonos I could choose from. Maikos wear different kimonos that reflect the seasons. Also the winter and fall ones are a little thicker. We were allowed to choose any that we wanted though. While we got our makeup put on, they would bring little trays by with hairpins and ties and such and let us pick. We got to pick every little thing and build our outfit from the ground up. I wasn't expecting that. Other people who had done Maiko dress-up before told me all they picked was the color of their kimono and that was it! They only take two people at a time, so they have plenty of time to let you choose.

I love this picture below that Markian took of me when the makeup was put on. The dove's tail on the back of the neck is so beautiful. I feel really pretty here. Too bad I didn't have my Kimono on yet.

I choose a blue Kimono with autumn leaves and pine needles. It was the correct one, as it is fall. Maikos have different hair pins every month depending on what the seasonal flower is. I choose the correct flower for the month. So everything I was wearing was what a real Maiko would wear during November. The only thing I did incorrectly was my lip paint. I choose to be a 1st year Maiko which has the brightest colors and the beautiful hanging hair piece. However, first year Maikos only paint a very small part of their bottom lip. I think it looks funny, so I decided to have more of it painted since I thought it would look nicer in the pictures. All those boxes behind me hold the seasonal hairpieces. It was a really nice shop. My students told me that most places, they don't care enough to give you the right season, it just a costume shop.

Here I am getting dressed. I already have a few layers of underwear on. It takes a man to put the kimono on. It takes a lot of force to tie it. It is different than the regular ones I've worn before. The ties also go way lower on the hip which I found strange. The guy who is dressing me has dressed people for many Japanese films and my friend has seen him on tv many times.

I have no idea how he tied that thing. It was like putting on a corset though. They had to yank it so tight. I though I wouldn't be able to move at first. Of course I couldn't bend down, but that's why you put on tabi (socks) 1st!

Here I am dressed! I look so sad in this upper picture. All my hairpieces aren't in yet. Maybe that's why.
They posed us and took pictures. It was so difficult to sit seza with all this weight on me! I had trouble getting back up too! I felt like a doll. I liked it though. It was surreal. It went by REALLY quickly too. It's kinda the way I imagine my wedding day going by. Markian was an excellent photographer. I liked most his pics better than the professional ones I received (I don't have digitals of those, so I can't put them on here. Maybe when they go on the website I'll put up a link).
Behind me are fans from different Geisha houses. I didn't want to open my mouth to smile because my teeth would look so yellow next to the white paint!

The picture above may be my favorite picture. I really don't think it's me!

Above: Me and my friend fully dressed! (well without shoes cause we're inside).
I was embarrassed and happy at the same time. I just really didn't know what to do with myself!

So then I put on the Geta, they were so tall! Then I went to their little garden to pose for more pictures for the photographer, and Markian took many as well. I was hard to stand at first. They were so wobbly! I was still feeling nervous and weird, but happy. When you put on the shoes to go out, you have to hold up the kimono (it's quite heavy) or it will drag. The plus is that you can see the pretty red printed underclothes underneath.

Finally they let me see everything in the mirror for the first time! I didn't recognize myself it was strange! Markian took some really cool pictures of me inspecting myself.

Then we went outside for real! The photographer took more picture and we posed. It was weird being totally the center of attention.

We are carrying the type of bags that Maiko's carry. It is cute, but also awkward. My shoes jingled as I walked. Maikos have bells inside their shoes. You can see the autumn leaves in my hair. I was oh so happy.
Then our walk around began. It was short, but sweet. My friend got a little embarrassed, so wanted me to walk in front. I felt shy too, but there really weren't that many people about yet. It was still early.

We walked by the willow trees by the river. It was a beautiful area. Near the very famous chion-in temple. Too bad we didn't have time to go there. It would have cost a lot of money to extend the time.

Above in the distance is a real geiko. The people from the shop recognized her. She walked away quickly so Markian didn't get that great o a picture. It was still cool though. I'd never seen a real one before.

Markian posed with us. It made him look like a rich man. Maikos don't come cheap!

I LOVE these pictures he took! I didn't know what he was doing at the time, but I'm very pleased now.

I looked SO TALL! But really I was with the shoes. This is an interesting modern shot.

We visited a small temple.

There were many beautiful flowers there.

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Everything was starting to feel really heavy, but I didn't care.

We walked back to the shop. The wall made for some nice photos.

Look at my big shoes! And my obi and obi-jima up close! So pretty!

A strange but interesting shot of my face.

I love this picture too! Again, at the time I didn't know what the heck Markian was trying to do!

Here we are with our make-up and hair artists. They were were nice and talented!

Above: My friend's feet!
Below: Me in the underwear without the wig. Scary huh? Kinda Mime-esk? Markian wanted to take this picture.
So this was a fantastic experience. I would totally do it again. I had so much fun. I'm so greatful my friend invited me. It was the experience of a lifetime. I was sad it was over, but quiet relieved to take off all that heavy stuff! It took another 30 minutes to get dressed and get all that makeup off! That stuff is really stuck once it dries. We had to rub our faces with this oil to get it off. So, which picture do you like the best?


Anonymous said...

Wow! You look so different with all that on. I can't decide which picture I like best. I like the ones where you eyes are shut that you said you liked. They look very professional and convincing. I'm glad you had fun. :D

-Jessica / Panda Bear

Courtney said...

Thanks! :) Yeah I didn't recognize myself either!