Taken place on January 4th, the Shin Aisatsu (新挨拶) or New Year’s Greeting of the Kamishichiken Hanamachi (Geisha District) is the first “event” of the year around Kyoto’s Kagai (another word for the so-called “flower town” or geisha world of Kyoto).
The Maiko and Geiko have returned from their New Year’s break, the only holiday they all can spend together with their families back in their hometown. They are all dressed up in a most formal way, wearing a luxurious black kimono called kuromontsuki, a golden obi, red under-kimono, and having a special hairstyle for the occasion (different for the junior and the senior maiko) and the formal Sanbon-Ashi makeup (three lines on the back of their neck). For this short New Year’s period, they also wear special hair ornaments made of turtle shells and a real rice stalk.
All the Maiko and Geiko of the same Okiya (geisha house) go together around their neighborhood to pay their respect to the various Okiya and Ochaya (tea houses), and other restaurants and shops.
Needless to say, this attracts a lot of photographers as it is the only opportunity of the year to see such groups of beautiful geiko and maiko walking around the streets of preserved districts in Kyoto, dressed in their most beautiful outfit, a formal black Kuromontsuki kimono with golden obi.