3 New Maiko Entertainers Debut Together in Kyoto

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The three new maiko show their long obi belts with the balloon flower emblem of Kano-ya at the bottom.

KYOTO — Three new maiko novice female entertainers have made their debut in the Gion Higashi district, one of the five traditional entertainment areas in Kyoto.

It is quite rare for three maiko to give their first professional performances together. Their debut received cordial blessing from many fans who gathered around Kano-ya, the teahouse and okiya live-in establishment the three belong to.

On Oct. 3, the three maiko dressed in black furisode long-sleeve formal kimono, and paid visits to about 20 teahouses and restaurants to offer their greetings with the traditional phrase, “Otano moshimasu” (Please remember us).

The trio started living at Kano-ya in February this year to start their maiko training. They learned the art of maiko from Kano-ya’s fourth-generation master, Yukitaka Nishida, 47, and from senior geiko there, such as traditional Kyoto dialect, manners and etiquette and how to wear kimono properly. They also took lessons in traditional Japanese dancing and tea ceremony formalities. They were given maiko names Kanoshizu, Kanosuzu and Kanosono.

“The three of us discussed together how to follow the advice we received from Neesan [literally big sister, meaning geiko in this context] and we helped each other,” Kanoshizu said.

“I feel secure [being with the other two]. I’m glad we could make our debut together,” Kanosuzu said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Three new maiko visit a teahouse in the Gion Higashi district in Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto.

When asked which training and lessons are their favorites, Kanoshizu said the tea ceremony, Kanosuzu chose playing the ohayashi flute and Kanosono picked dance lessons.

“I like Japanese culture. I’d like to become a maiko who is gentle and elegant, fitting the image of maiko held by everyone,” Kanosono said excitedly.

In the Gion Higashi district, the number of maiko has declined in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The trio’s debut doubled the number to six. Together with another maiko scheduled to make her debut this month from another teahouse-okiya, the three will all join the Gion Odori dance performances opening on Nov. 1.

“When there’re more maiko-san, the show gets brighter. I’m glad that there are now those invaluable new faces ready for the occasion,” said Saburo Nakanishi, 65, the head of the Gion Higashi Kabukai association, which organizes the Gion Odori performances.