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Mizuka and I went to Kyoto yesterday to celebrate Mameyoshi becoming a geisha. Mameyoshi was a maiko until recently. Maiko are young girls who live in okiya and are in training to become geisha They generally start when they are 15-16 and can be identified by their long flowing obi and the fact that they use their real hair for the hair styling. Typically maiko become geisha and become independent when they are 18-20 years old. There are two types of geisha. Geisha who perform with musical elements and geisha who are focused on dancing. Usually, geisha who perform with musical instruments are not maiko first, but Mameyoshi took the irregular path of going from maiko to geisha. They do a ritual called erikaishi where they change their kimomo style and switch from their real hair to wigs. Mameyoshi became a shamisen player and performed for us yesterday. The two maiko dancing are Teruyuki and Terukoma. The first dance is kagamimochi and the second one is gion kouta (one of my favorites). Apologies for the noise in the background. There was a fire engine outside.

I've uploaded a 55M QT movie of the performance. Here is a torrent of the file.


I liked the second half of the performance better than the first. Aren't they supposed to be sponsored? I remember seeing a movie about a young girl about to become a geisha and having trouble finding a sponsor.

Anyway, Korea's version of geisha is called geesaeng. The profession survives but not as performers. Performance part are now in the domain of folk-art students and professionals who won't go anywhere near a house of geesaeng.


When are the cc-licensed mp3s going to be available?

That was wonderful. Thanks for sharing it here. I downloaded the QT movie for my daughter, who has been studying Japanese language and culture for three years (she's 16).

Just thought I would mention that it might be nice if you put the creative commons license and other information in the QuickTime Movie Info. I'll add it to my copy before I pass it along.

That's a good idea. I will add it and upload again. (cc in movie info.)

Don, yes. They need sponsors. Mizuka and I helped sponor Mameyoshi. Historically they would usually have a single wealthy sponor, but these days, they gather sponors for the various expensive things they need such as their new $5000 wig... It's becoming quite difficult these days to find new geisha and maiko. Since Mameyoshi became a geisha, there are only 19 maiko left in the district of Gion. The second song, Gion Kouta will disappear if we run out of maiko...

Good point Robin. Adding it and uploading now.

Dude. Thanks for this - ya made my night, being able to see this! I've read a good deal about maiko and geiko over the years but have never had the opportunity to see them perform live - this was the closest I'll come (without actually flying to Kyoto!) Cheers!

Good material for a book or even a movie: "Last Geisha" or "Electronic Geisha". The story is about the last living geisha trying to preserve her art using a motion-capture suit to record and robots to playback performances. In the end, she realizes that capturing an art like hers without capturing the life behind the art is worse than a still photo.

Fire engine outside, camera phone inside ;-)

I think you need to get yourself a wide angle lens attachment, and maybe a video tripod head. Maybe some New Years bargain shopping? :-) Yay for more gadgets!

Great video though! Mameyoshi-san ni omedetou gozaimasu!

I saw Mameyoshi dance at the Gion corner last august when my sister and nephew came to visit.
She had to do the dances alone, as the other maiko was unavailable this day (sick, I think).

I like Gion kouta too. I have it on CDs in two versions, one recent from Umekichi and one from Fujisato Fumikichi dating back to 1930...

I leant the lyrics so that I can sing it ocasionnally when we go to Karaoke with friends and colleagues.

Thanks for the video! I'll show the normal two maiko version of the dances to my sister (well, she saw them when she came two years before that, but my nephew didn't). Also, I wanted to see it leisurely and replay it so that I can try to understand the dance a bit better (match the movements with the lyrics).

Now I can do it!

Oops, I meant Fujimoto (not Fujisato) Fumikichi...

I find both maiko and geiko fascinating in that they can control themselves so well and be completely aware of what they are doing at all times. I realize that this comes through years of practice and study, which causes me to
admire the dedication it must take to absorb all that knowledge.
On the other side, I am envious. I have always been a bit clumsy, socially oblivious, and most of the time I can't tell how good or bad I might look to someone else. This can be quite a problem.
But since there's no way I can take kyo-mai lessons from the Inoue School to work on my movement, I would be very grateful if you could suggest something I can do to be a little more self-aware. Seriously. It is affecting my career.

Konnichiwa Joi-San Okgenki desu ka?
I saw your Odori I must say it is most shokingly amazing
and so flawless as well.

I just learned about Geisha and Maiko. And I have to says I love everything about them, there wonderful. And I hope they never run out. If I was Japanese I would no doubt be one... but of course I'm not, I just obsess about how pretty they are. well keep it together ^^

Hi, Are there really still geisha's? and maiko's training to be a real geisha?? that's so cool! And is here a geisha on this blog or does someone here know a geisha personaly. i think they are really special.. i just saw the movie: memoirs of a geisha.. that's why i'm so interested hihi. bye bye daphne

Wow i don't know how to speek Japenese or how to write it what r y'all saying I am from South Carolina

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Joi Ito videotaped a maiko performance over the weekend, the ceremony of passing from maiko to geisha in Gion.... Read More

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