Kinkaku-ji Temple, the Golden Pavilion under snow in Winter

舞い – Dancing

Maiko Fukutama of Miyagawa-Cho performing the "Kyo no shiki" (four seasons of Kyoto) dance.

Dancing is probably one of the main skills a maiko has to acquire. They will practice almost every day for four or five years before becoming a geiko. And then after that, they will continue to practice even more. Japanese traditional dance or “Nihon Buyo” is an art of movement that has been cultivated for over a thousand years. Each Kagai (geisha district) is following a different dancing style or school.

The five dancing schools of Kyoto’s Kagai are:

  1. Gion Kobu School (Inoue): Established in the late 19th century, it is one of the most famous geisha schools in Kyoto. It is known for its lively and expressive style of dancing.
  2. Pontocho School (Onoe): Founded in the mid-20th century, this school is known for its innovative approach to geisha dancing. It incorporates modern dance elements into traditional geisha performances.
  3. Miyagawa-cho School (Wakayagi): This school was founded in the early 20th century and is known for its graceful and subtle style of dancing.
  4. Kamishichiken School (Hanayagi): The smallest of the five schools, it was founded in the late 18th century. It is known for its traditional and refined style of geisha dancing.
  5. Gion Higashi School (Fujima): The Fujima style of dance emphasizes the use of the fan as a prop and is known for its gracefulness and subtlety.

Visiting the room

As you enter the room, look to your right. The top right photo shows you the “Sakkô” hairdo which was commonly used during the Edo period for brides at their wedding.

The five maiko in these photos are in the so-called “Sakkô” period, the last two-three weeks before their “Erikae” or “turning the collar”, the formal debut of a geiko. They are about to finish their apprenticeship and become a full fledge geiko. During that period, they perform the “Kurokami” (black hair) dance that is only performed during this limited period. Four of them are wearing a black “kuromontsuki” kimono while the fifth one (above, in the center) wears a standard kimono with a golden obi because the tradition in her district (Kamishichiken) is different.

The three photos on the left show you maiko and geiko performing during a party or a photo session.

The five photos on the right are of maiko during the "Sakkô" period, when they finish their apprenticeship and are preparing to become full-fledged geiko.

Other photos in the room are of maiko and geiko dancing during a party or a photo session. 

The three photos on the floor on the left wall were captured during “Ozashiki” parties, with two maiko performing together, or a maiko dancing while a geiko plays the shamisen and sings.

The last two photos on your right before you leave the room are of Geiko Mamefuji san, one of the top geiko of Gion Kobu, an exceptional dancer and an amazing person.