Travel Journal

Maiko Transformation in Kyoto

What’s a Maiko? In the picture, it looks more like a Geisha.


Well, that’s what I thought until my husband told me they are slightly different. Unfortunately, I only found out what he meant about being a Maiko at Kyoto when we were already there. All along I thought, he booked a rental for a Kimono that comes with a little photoshoot. I was starting to regret him booking the experience for me but I decided “YOLO.” Besides, it’s almost a once in a lifetime experience considering the cost and – frankly, the embarrassment.

So I went to the studio where some staff speak a little english and started my appointment. They asked me to change into a white thin robe with just my underwear and leave everything else in the locker. They gave me a tiny basket where I can put my phone/camera and wallet. After that they asked me to wait until it was my turn for the makeup. At this point I was feeling exhausted because I was too excited for this trip, I didn’t get to sleep the other night.

Thankfully the makeup artist’s hands were light and relaxing. First, she cleaned my face with an oil base cleanser then I saw her scrubbing something on her hands which appear to be some sort of wax. My mind was like… “is that wax or glue?” but I forgot all my worries when she started applying the wax on my shoulders, neck and face. I closed my eyes and it just felt like a massage, next thing I know I was looking at a creepy geisha in front of the mirror. I guess I was half asleep already and didn’t know what else she did on my face. LOL, this is not an informative blog, not at all.

Oh, correction. Not a Geisha but a Maiko, which is an apprentice of a Geiko. A Geiko is – I think, a term used in Kyoto to refer to a Geisha.

Anyway, when she was done with my makeup and wig, I was escorted to a room where they dress you up. And boy was it fascinating to watch them dress the other clients! I was starting to appreciate the beauty of a Maiko. They literally looked like Dolls and watching them being dressed reminded me so much of my childhood Barbies.

Feeling a little more confident I started talking to the staff when it was my turn. I told them I’m studying nihonggo and I’m from Philippines! They told me I don’t sound like a foreigner when I speak nihonggo and some other comments I couldn’t understand anymore, LOL.

When she was done with me I felt like a doll, literally a stiff doll. I cannot raise my hand higher than my head and I cannot bend my torso.

Luckily, I can still sit when she offered me a seat. She asked me to choose a kinchaku (Japanese traditional handbags/purse). I was about to pick one which matched the color of my Kimono but she told me that kinchaku should never be the same color with the kimono. Fair enough, the kinchaku I picked was a contrast to my Kimono color and it looked nice together.



I placed my phone and camera inside the purse while she added a Kanzashi (Japanese hair ornament) on my wig.


At last, my Maiko transformation was done and I’m off to do a little photoshoot.

This is the only time my husband was allowed inside to see me. At first he did not recognize me until I laughed at him and like any sane couple we were both laughing at my appearance. We do not mean to offend any culture but I was awkwardly creepy AF. He also can’t help it especially when I strike silly pose while waiting for the photographer.



After the photoshoot I came to my doom – 40 minutes outside of the studio, white-face and all. Oh and the Geta (Japanese slippers) ultimately made it torture.


I was happy that my husband was with me but I was also a little pissed because he should’ve worn a Samurai costume! I mean isn’t that what marriage is all about?? Doing stupid things together?


No, I take that back. It was not stupid it was bizarre. Even more when I started hearing people saying “kawaii” towards me.


At first it was my husband taking my photos then suddenly tourists started asking for pictures!



Not just foreign tourists but Japanese tourists as well!


My Husband tried telling them, “She’s my wife, she’s not a celebrity.”


But they keep on coming and taking pictures because I ended up being an attraction in Kyoto. LMAO


No wonder I’m the only one who availed the package that includes going outside of the studio with the complete costume.


Eventually tourists stopped and we started walking towards the Yasaka Tower to take a proper solo picture.

On our way back to the studio we found another tourist wearing a samurai costume! Of course I asked for a picture.


In its entirety, my Maiko experience in Kyoto was  unforgettable! It was remarkably strange as a foreigner and something I recommend for you if you are planning to visit Kyoto.

I have a link below of the Maiko Studio’s website in English but there are a lot to choose from. This just happens to be what my husband chose for this trip. It might as well be the cheapest one, LOL. However, if your going with a Japanese friend or somebody who can speak japanese, let them book it on the Japanese website because the rates are cheaper than the English website.

I hope you find this blog worthwhile if you’re thinking of visiting Kyoto in the future. If you’ve had this experience, let me know how it went!

Also, look forward to my next blog!


I had a chance to visit the wizarding world and I can’t wait to write about it! But for now, thanks for reading this blog and peace out!


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