watercolour, Horadam paints, Canson paper 200g, 11″ × 14″
Apprentice geisha are called maiko (literally “dance child”) or hangyoku (“half-jewel”… meaning that they are paid half the wage of a full geisha), or by the more generic term o-shaku (“one who pours (alcohol)”). The white make-up and elaborate kimono and hair of a maiko is the popular image held of geisha. A woman entering the geisha community does not have to start out as a maiko, having the opportunity to begin her career as a full geisha. Either way, however, usually a year’s training is involved before debuting either as a maiko or as a geisha. A woman above 21 is considered too old to be a maiko and becomes a full geisha upon her initiation into the geisha community. However, those who do go through the maiko stage can enjoy more prestige later in their professional lives.
Inspired by Michael Chandler’s photography
original in private collection