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Why Do Geisha in Tokyo Not Wear White Makeup? The Difference from Kyoto's Geiko

Updated: 5 days ago


Why Do Geisha in Tokyo Not Wear White Makeup? The Difference from Kyoto's Geiko


Are There No Geisha in Kyoto!?


Foreign tourists often ask, "Are there Geisha in Tokyo as well as Kyoto?" The answer is, "There are no Geisha in Kyoto, but there are Geisha in Tokyo." This is a common misconception, even among Japanese people.


In the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo, the term "Geisha" refers to "Geigi" (professional female entertainers), and apprentices are called "Hangyoku" or "Oshaku." In contrast, in Kyoto and other areas outside Tokyo, professional female entertainers are called "Geiko," and apprentices are called "Maiko." Therefore, there are Geisha in Tokyo and Geiko in Kyoto. "Geigi" is a general term for both Geisha and Geiko, referring to women who entertain guests with songs, dance, and music during banquets.


Why Do Geisha in Tokyo Not Wear White Makeup? The Difference from Kyoto's Geiko


Do You Know Why Geisha Do Not Wear White Makeup?


Not all Geisha (Geigi) wear white makeup. In Tokyo, Geisha wear white makeup during formal occasions, such as New Year's celebrations, but they do not wear it during regular banquets. Additionally, during formal occasions, while apprentices (Hangyoku) use their natural hair, Geisha wear wigs.


One reason Tokyo Geisha do not wear white makeup during regular banquets is to avoid attracting attention when walking with VIPs from political and business circles. White makeup would draw attention to both the Geisha and the VIP, potentially revealing the identity of the VIP attending incognito. In contrast, in Kyoto, where the patrons are often heads of small and medium-sized enterprises, Geiko often wear white makeup until around the age of 30.


Why Do Geisha in Tokyo Not Wear White Makeup? The Difference from Kyoto's Geiko


How Much is The Cost of Wearing White Makeup for Geisha?


Foreigners (and even some Japanese people) often have a strong image of Geisha wearing white makeup. For an additional fee of around ¥10,000 to 20,000, Geisha who normally do not wear white makeup can do so upon request. This fee generally includes the rental cost of the formal kimono "Hikigi" and dressing fees.


If a Geisha owns her "Hikigi," the fee is lower. A "Hikigi" is a type of kimono worn by Geisha during their performances. Unlike regular kimonos, it is worn with a long, trailing hem (without folding the hem up to shorten it). This creates a more elegant and graceful appearance.


Learn More About Geisha and Enjoy the Geisha Experience


Understanding these differences in terminology and makeup practices can enhance your enjoyment of banquets (Ozashiki Asobi) with Geisha. Our company offers various plans, from casual Geisha banquets at the restaurant "Torijaya" to authentic Geisha banquets at the traditional restaurant "Kohmoto" and casual chats with Geisha at Geisha bars. Enjoy the authentic Geisha culture in Shinjuku's Kagurazaka area.



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How to Access Kagurazaka


The Kagurazaka area is conveniently located within 30 minutes from any major station in Tokyo. This is because Kagurazaka is situated in the heart of Tokyo, at the center of the Yamanote Line. Please come and visit this convenient and charming Kagurazaka.






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