The flower of tradition blooms again
The Maiko’s dance flutters into the modern age

Akita Maiko

Akita Maiko embody traditional Japanese beauty

Akita Maiko

With faces made up in white and ornate pins decorating their dark hair, Maiko possess an unmistakable grace. The famous folding fan dance of these apprentice Geisha exudes elegance with every movement. In northern Akita Prefecture, this classic Japanese art continues to flourish.

In recent years, Akita has experienced a fresh revival of Geisha culture, and in 2016 a classic Japanese banquet hall was given new life. The century-old restaurant has been reborn as a cultural facility where visitors can sip local sake while watching traditional Maiko performances. This loving tribute to Geisha of years past is the work of the Akita Maiko.

In the past, Geisha typically performed at important gatherings. Upholding the graceful traditions of their craft, they delighted those watching with song, dance, and shamisen performances. While the Geisha of Kyoto’s Gion district are better known internationally, Akita was once home to the vibrant “Kawabata Geisha” culture. Performing in the entertainment district of Kawabata, the Geisha of Akita were known for their exceptionally stunning appearance, giving birth to the phrase “Akita Beauty.” However, the thriving Geisha culture of the region would gradually fade with the passage of time.

In a push to restore the majesty of Akita’s Geisha, young women in the region began the Akita Maiko movement. As successors to the region’s Geisha tradition, this modern generation trains in Japanese dance, tea ceremony, and other traditional arts. Dressed in majestic kimonos and gorgeous obi sashes, the performances of the Akita Maiko harken back to the banquet halls of old with their refinement and splendor.

The elegant movement of the sensu folding fan

An Akita Maiko carefully paints her lips

Photo : Courtesy of Sen Co., Ltd.