We found this cooking class with Emi based on reviews on trip advisor and were not disappointed. After a jam packed day of with touristy sites, we navigated our way via bus to Emi's part of town. She met us at the University steps and then walked with us the couple block to her home. As you arrive Emi welcomes you to her home, reviews the menu and then you dive right in to the lesson.
While all the flavors of the dishes were familiar, the preparation of the ingredients was new to me. Emi also helped to identify a number of items that were in my local market, but foreign to me (I have seen ginko nuts up and down my street, but until this class I had no idea they were delicious and easy to prepare.)Of course the best part of the class was getting to sample our food! If you are in Kyoto and looking for a different type of experience contact Emi
During dinner our beds were laid out in the tatami room next door and after all that soaking and eating we didn't have any trouble falling asleep. If you get a chance to visit an onsen don't pass it up. You will find it relaxing and you too can be a pro in no time!
A Maiko is an apprentice studying to be a Geisha (or a master: Maiko). The typical Maiko begins her training at age 16 and then apprentices for 5 years before she becomes a Geiko. During these years the Maiko undergoes intensive studying and training. Each Maiko lives in a boarding house or okiya. Okiya is a boarding house for those training to be a Geisha. The woman who owns the okiya will pay for all training and attire of the aspiring Maiko (but she will also take all of the money a Maiko earns in order to repay this debt). A typical boarding house holds between 5-7 girls. As you walk through Gion you can tell which houses are an okiya by the placards on the wall above the door, these are actually the names of the Geishas which live inside.
What is a Maiko?
What is the typical day like of a Maiko in training?
A Geiko is someone who has mastered the skills required of a Geisha (and no, they are not prostitutes!). These skills include dancing, tea serving, and entertaining guests with conversation, games, or jokes. As a Geiko a woman is able to set her own schedule and anything she earns is hers to keep. Additionally, the style of dress for a Geiko varies from that of a Maiko. A Geiko wears a sash which is shorter in the back and she typically wears a wig. Geikos are highly valued and the top Geiko made as much money as the CEO of Toyota. Finally, you don’t really age out, but instead can continue to work as long as you please (currently the oldest Geiko is 80 years old).
What is a Geiko?
The typical attire of a Geisha includes a kimono and a sash (obi). If the Geisha is a Maiko she will wear an obi that reaches to the ground, while a Geiko will wear a sash that is much shorter. In addition to these items, there are very ornate hairpieces that each wears, which can cost upwards of $1,000 per hair piece. These kimonos and hairpieces change with each season. One final distinguishing feature reserved for a first year Maiko is the sound of bells, which are placed in her shoes so that as she walks you hear the jingle.
What does a Geiko or Maiko wear?
Your best bet for seeing a Geiko or Maiko is to pay to attend a party. We did not do this. The cost for a party is $1,000 and permits up to 6 people to attend. Your $1,000 will get you 1 Geiko, 1 Maiko, Sake and Beer, 30 minutes of travel time for the Geiko/Maiko, and 1 hour of entertainment. This entertainment includes conversation, games (rock paper scissors) and traditional dance. You could take another route and just mill about in Gion and hope that you encounter a Geisha. Be warned, they are moving very quickly and are rather difficult to photograph (it is also not acceptable for you to get in their way, as they are on a schedule)
I want to see a Geiko or Maiko!