A new generation of Maiko have now taken centre stage in Kyoto’s Gion and Miyakawa-cho districts. These young stars appear confident and are more comfortable with the attention they get from the audience and hordes of tourists, and it is hard to imagine that they are only teenagers. Years of apprenticeship under the watchful eyes of the Okiya’s Oka-san allow these stars to blossom into their new roles with ease.
Tanefumi-san is originally from Tokyo and used to dream of being a star in a musical. Her passion for becoming a Maiko started when she visited Kyoto with her family. Her interest and pursuit of ballet, jazz and tap dance give her a strong dance background, and her confidence in facing the camera and meeting new people is very impressive. I asked her where she would like to go for a holiday and she wanted to go to a place full of nature and was genuinely interested when I mentioned my trip of Easter Island. Her comment “when I grow up, I would like to travel” brought me back to the fact that she is only 16.
This was the first time for me to meet Yaemi-san and I was very impressed with her kindness and her gentle way of talking. Something about her is very comfortable and I look forward to meeting her again.
Mamechika-san continues a long family tradition of being Maiko. Her Grandmother was both Maiko and Geiko in Gion and Mamechika-san also exhibits strong confidence in her approach to dance and meeting new people. Her only hesitation of travel is passing through the security checkpoint and the noise all her accessories will make when they trigger the alarm. Underneath the mask, there is a strong sense of humour.
I could not talk much with Momokazu-san since she was very shy in the company of her Maiko sisters. One could sense though that she is also kind and caring and will blossom further.
A new Maiko wears a different make-up than the established ones. The difference is in the painting of only one (lower) lip, in the color of the collar, and the seasonal hair ornaments. As one gets more accustomed to these minor details, one understands the intricacies and the traditions that one has to not only learn, but also practice before one can get accepted in the world of the Maiko and the Geiko.