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March 23, 2016

Japanese Girls in the Taisho Period: 37 Vintage Photos of Maikos and Geikos in Kyoto From the 1910s and 1920s

Literally translating to ‘arts person’, geisha (芸者) are highly trained in Japanese traditional arts, including music, singing and dancing. By contrast, geiko (芸子) is primarily used to refer to geisha from Kyoto. Although geisha formerly referred to only those from Tokyo and its surrounding areas, it has now become the general term for all geisha.

Geiko vs. Maiko

Maiko (舞妓) translates to ‘dancing girl’ or ‘child’, and refers to apprentice geiko. They undergo about 5 years of training in various arts, before graduating to become geiko. Outside of Kyoto, the hangyoku (半玉) in Tokyo would be the closest equivalents to maiko. Hangyoku literally means ‘half jewel’ and are trainee geisha, although little is known about their training process. So summed up, the difference between geiko and maiko can be described as the difference between accomplished “master” of their art and an apprentice.

Here is a photo collection shows the normal life of Maiko and Geiko girls in Kyoto in the 1910s-20s.

A group of Maiko girls on a balcony overlooking the Kamo River in Kyoto, ca. late 1910s

A group of Maiko girls playing a game, ca. 1920s

A group of Maiko girls standing on the riverbank, ca. late 1910s

A Maiko girl taking a photograph with an early Kodak folding camera, while being guided by another Maiko, ca. 1920s

A Maiko playing with a ball, ca. 1920s

Admiring a folding fan, ca. 1910s

Beautiful girls in a hot summer evening, ca. 1920s

Beautiful Japanese girls going out for a walk, ca. 1910s

Climbing an escarpment, ca. 1920s

Drinking Kirin beer, 1920

Five Maiko girls posing for a shot, ca. 1920s

Fourteen Maiko girls in Komonos, ca. 1920s

Geikos on a summer balcony, 1920

Maiko  dancing with a mai-ogi (dancing fan), her obi (sash) decorated with dragons and pearls, ca. 1910s

Maiko girls have an afternoon tea, ca. 1920s

Maiko girls in a Takase-bune, 1926

Maiko girls with dolls, ca. 1920s

Maiko girls with umbrellas in the 1920s

Maikos at a waterfall, ca. 1920s

Maikos by the river in the 1920s

Maikos in Kimonos in the 1920s

Maikos with dragon obi Kimonos in the 1920s

One Maiko taking a photograph of another withe an early Kodak folding camera, ca. 1920s

Playing the Taiko and the Kotsuzumi, ca. 1910s

Playing Toryanse, ca. 1920s

Portrait of a Maiko with Sakkou hairstyle in the 1920s

Posing for a shot by the Kamo River, ca. 1920s

Relaxing on a balcony in the 1920s

Taking a break and fixing their make-up on a park bench, ca. 1920s

Three Maiko girls with a camera, ca. 1920s

Twelve year old musicians, ca. 1910s

Two Maiko girls from behind, ca. 1920s

Two Maiko girls with obi of Nishijin Silk, 1917

Two young girls on a street in the 1910s

Two young girls sitting on a park bench, ca. 1920s

Wisteria obi dancing, ca. 1920s

Young Maiko girl, ca. 1920s



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