Shop Forum More Submit  Join Login
Revisited: Compare by Fuyou-hime Revisited: Compare by Fuyou-hime
I was looking through my pictures from my stay in Japan, and I thought I should post some of the images I never used.

This photograph of maiko Kyouka and geiko Fukumomo is perhaps the best photograph I've taken that shows the differences between a maiko and a geiko. To a person who's familiar in the nuances of kimono, it's unthinkable to mistake a maiko and a geiko, but to those who don't it's often easy to confuse the two. Here are a few key differences which make identification easy.

The hairstyle worn by Kyouka in the back is called the wareshinobu, and is the first hairstyle a maiko will wear. It's characterized by the bun on the back which has a red ribbon peeking out from behind two strands of hair, and a brooch in the middle. It's a style based on a young girl's hairstyle of the past, because back then it was a very easy style to produce and didn't require extensions (that's not quite so true now). She also wears many more hair ornaments than a geiko, such as the iconic kisetsubana, the flowery ornaments worn in front that are made from silk and change monthly. Geiko Fukumomo in contrast wears one of the many varients of the Shimada coiffure, a much more complicated hairstyle that has less ornaments within it. The shimada style was worn by unmarried women who were of a marrigable age. It signified that they were women, not girls. It's held together with silver paper chords and strips, and is decorated with a comb and a few simple ornaments. So essentially, a maiko's hairstyle is in itself easy to create but decorated profusely, while a geiko's is complicated to create and decorated sparcely.

The kimono of a maiko is different in construction and design from a geiko's kimono. Maiko Kyouka's kimono is in a style called furisode, which is characterized by its long sleeves. It's a style worn by unmarried women, and gives a girlish image. As you can see in the photo, Kyouka's sleeves go to the end of her obi, while Fukumomo's much more womanly sleeves in constrast are only half that size. A maiko's kimono is also more colorful and expensive. While Fukumomo's is covered in yuzen, a dye-resist painting design, Kyouka's is covered in expensive shibori, tie-dye on a minute scale. Each one of those little white dots was a tiny knot made by hand before the fabric was dyed. So essentially, a maiko's kimono is big and showy, while a geiko's is simpler.

The underkimono collar of a maiko and geiko is another big difference between the two. A maiko's collar in back is always red, while a geiko's is always white. That is why the debut of a geiko is called Erikae, turning of the collar. An important note to remember though is that the front of a maiko's underkimono collar is a mark of seniority within maiko ranks, and ranges from the very red collars of very junior maiko to the perfectly white collars of very senior maiko. Only the back of the collar is the marker of overall maiko status.

The obi knots of maiko and geiko are the easiest way to identify them. A maiko is famous for her iconic Darari knot, the dangling knot made from an obi around 25 feet in length. This style was created by unmarried merchant daughters, and as geiko were mostly patronized by merchants, it makes sense that their apprentices wore the style that their customer's daughters helped create. A geiko in contrast wears the simple Otaiko knot, a square knot made from much less fabric. The Otaiko was in fact created by geisha, which helps explain why it's the most popular style for geiko to wear. An important note to remember is that this difference only holds true in maiko and geiko's work clothes. During the day both of them wear the Otaiko knot as it's the most popular obi style to wear for all women, not just geiko.

The last major difference in appearance between maiko and geiko is their footwear. Maiko are famous for wearing okobo, 10cm high wooden clogs that are shaped like a wedge and ring like a bell when the maiko walks. Like everything else that maiko wear, okobo were worn by children and young women, mostly to make them cute and give them extra height. Geiko don't wear them, they wear zori or geta, adult footwear. But an important note to remember is that maiko are not required to wear okobo, and in fact many of them almost never wear them.

I hope this helps for anyone who has a picture of a possible maiko or geiko and is having trouble identifying them.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconcustomcookie:
CustomCookie Featured By Owner May 31, 2013
Thank you!
Reply
:iconfuyou-hime:
Fuyou-hime Featured By Owner May 31, 2013
You're welcome :).
Reply
:iconcaterpillartomoko:
caterpillartomoko Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2010
What a beautiful shot. I am glad to come across this photo. And the explanations are a major plus. *faves*
Reply
:iconfuyou-hime:
Fuyou-hime Featured By Owner Jul 26, 2010
Thank you very much :).
Reply
:iconakai-tenshi:
Akai-Tenshi Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
great photo! I was wondering about okobo, because I'd seen photos of (what looked liked) maiko who were wearing zori. XD
Reply
:iconfuyou-hime:
Fuyou-hime Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2010
Maiko often wear zori. I know from personal experience that geta make horrible sounds on certain flooring like tile, so I'm betting okobo do too. That would be a good reason to wear zori instead, and they're probably more comfortable to stand in for long periods of time. If a maiko were attend an outdoor event or one in a Western style room, she'd have to keep her footwear on for a long time so she'd probably want to wear the more comfortable option. At the same time, if she were taller than average, she'd probably want to minimize that with zori (seeing as how her hairdo would already be adding height). I also wonder if some of the girls I see who never wear okobo do so because they have an unusual footsize...
Reply
:iconakai-tenshi:
Akai-Tenshi Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
That makes since and is rather practical. When I went to Japan in spring it seemed that my feet were relatively "large" but I could still find shoes that fit me in normal shoe stores (also a pair of nice tabi, and geta, I could only find one pair of zori that fit me XD ), but my friend who's feet are a couple sizes bigger then mine could only find a store or two that even carried shoes in her size (she's also very tall).
Reply
:iconfuyou-hime:
Fuyou-hime Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2010
I've noticed in my research that the reasoning behind most of the things maiko and geiko do is actually quite practical. Some people want there to be flowery, scandalous reasoning, but often the reasons make a lot of sense and aren't that mysterious :).

I know about the shoe thing, too, I had friends that were totally screwed if they ruined their shoes because there was no way they could replace them in Japan. It's horrible how small the shoes sizes are there.
Reply
:iconlonewylfe:
lonewylfe Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2010
Thanks for all the great information!
Reply
:iconfuyou-hime:
Fuyou-hime Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2010
No problem :).
Reply
:icon23-tiny-wishes:
23-tiny-wishes Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2010  Student General Artist
I love Fukumono's kimono! Ume! :la: Lovely photo! Great info as always!
Reply
:iconfuyou-hime:
Fuyou-hime Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2010
She's actually not wearing ume, although I can see how it looks like she is. You can see in this photo [link] that it's flower balls and strings of what are either chrysanthemums or daisies. Her obi is my favorite part of her ensemble :).
Reply
:icon23-tiny-wishes:
23-tiny-wishes Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2010  Student General Artist
Uwaaa...it's still pretty! =) Yes, the obi is so cool! I saw one on ebay like that.
Reply
:iconfuyou-hime:
Fuyou-hime Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2010
So did I, it was blue with gold waves just like that. I bidded on it, but I lost :cry:.
Reply
:icon23-tiny-wishes:
23-tiny-wishes Featured By Owner Jun 16, 2010  Student General Artist
:pat: I'm sure you'll find another one =) I'm still hanging out for a red fukuro. =D
Reply
:iconragettisbride:
ragettisbride Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2010
Hands down, I think this is my favorite photograph of yours so far.
Reply
:iconfuyou-hime:
Fuyou-hime Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2010
Thank you very much. I thought of posting this one originally when I took it, I like how their lines curve towards each other. But the one I took a split second afterwards of just Kyouka had more presence to it. Well, it's up now =D.
Reply
:iconragettisbride:
ragettisbride Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2010
Sweet!
Reply
:iconmelbourne-cha:
Melbourne-Cha Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2010
Not only is the photo beautiful, but the information was really interesting to read. Thanks for taking the time to write all that up!
Reply
:iconfuyou-hime:
Fuyou-hime Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2010
It was no problem at all, I really enjoy writing up my commentary :).
Reply
:iconsephirothpaine:
sephirothpaine Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
Nice^_^
Reply
:iconfuyou-hime:
Fuyou-hime Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2010
Thank you very much :).
Reply
:iconsephirothpaine:
sephirothpaine Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
I do have a question about Obi's. The maiko and geisha both have the okya's crests on it?

I've heard of okya's sharing kimono and obis. Is it really ok for a maiko/ geisha to wear anothers okya's crests?
Reply
:iconfuyou-hime:
Fuyou-hime Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2010
I've yet to see a geisha wear an obi with her or her okiya's crest on it. While crests in general may be a design feature, they aren't an identifying tool the way a maiko's obi crest is.

Whether okiya share clothing is a tricky question. I've heard of it too, both that they do it and that they don't. I don't think maiko's obi can be borrowed, because I don't think maiko are allowed to wear any crest other than their okiya's. But the crests on kimono aren't as strict, especially since independent geisha can wear their own personal crests. So, with kimono and geiko's obi, it's up in the air, but with maiko's obi I'd say no.
Reply
:iconkjsylvan:
KJSylvan Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks so much for not only the beautiful picture, but all of the information you took the time to share with us :) I already knew most of it, but it's great to see all of it right here with a wonderful reference picture so that others may use it to help them. Thanks a ton!
Reply
:iconfuyou-hime:
Fuyou-hime Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2010
No problem, I always have fun with my explanations. I find that the information about maiko/geiko differences isn't so hard to find, but the reference pictures certainly are. Getting a good, clear shot of a maiko and geiko together is surprisingly difficult.
Reply
Add a Comment:
 
×




Details

Submitted on
June 13, 2010
Image Size
301 KB
Resolution
600×1059
Link
Thumb

Stats

Views
2,417
Favourites
70 (who?)
Comments
26
Downloads
52

Camera Data

Make
SONY
Model
DSLR-A100
Shutter Speed
1/50 second
Aperture
F/5.6
Focal Length
80 mm
ISO Speed
400
Date Taken
Mar 7, 2009, 5:08:18 PM