Memoirs of a “Geisha” – A Maiko Makeover Experience in Kyoto

Just over a week ago we returned home to Hawaii after a 10-day vacation in Japan.  From Osaka to Kyoto to Tokyo then back to Osaka again.   Even with the threatening typhoon Lan and stormy days during the trip, it was still oh-so-amazing!

To me, the most memorable experience was the opportunity to be a Maiko for a day.

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A maiko  is a geisha-in-training.  The term “Geisha” means “art person”.  This means one must be highly skilled in their arts to be considered a geisha.   Geishas are experts in traditional dance, classical music, tea ceremony, and much more.   They are well versed in social situations and are expert conversationalist. The role of a geisha is constantly misunderstood (mostly by westerners) as they are thought of as escorts, sometimes prostitutes.  They are not.  They are exclusively hired to entertain during sophisticated dinners and events.  They portray beauty, elegance, and their talents that they perfect.  They go through rigorous years of training, and they are an important cultural asset to Japan, sadly there are very few of them left.

Having a maiko makeover wasn’t just the chance to put on white makeup and dress in a kimono.  It was the experience of being professionally made up, to wear a warishinobu wig adorned with colorful hair pins and be beautifully dressed in a traditional kimono.  Not to mention being able to tour (in tabi socks and platform clogs) a few of the most historic and preserved streets of the Edo Period in Gion, Kyoto….. specifically Ninenzeka, one of the oldest streets in the history of Kyoto.

For a few hours you get to feel like a real maiko or geisha, and it was an unforgettable experience!  Although it was a bit tiring because of the stairs, slopes and uphills, and the nonstop photo ops/selfie requests by tourists and locals alike…..but well worth it….

AYA KYOTO –

This Maiko Makeover Experience would not have been possible without AYA KYOTO. They have been very accommodating since the beginning.  They were responsive through email even while I was still on-island (Akiko and Wakana were my contacts through email). We rescheduled because of the storm and they even allowed my bff Kelsie to participate.  Another geisha makeover company in Gion, who will remain unnamed, wouldn’t allow any woman expecting, no matter what stage of pregnancy, to participate in the makeover.  AYA accomodated Kels, and we had the time of our lives!  Here are some photos from our maiko makeover, to help you get a feel of how the process works.

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The AYA studio was a traditional teahouse during the Taisho Period in the early 1900s so it has an authentic, traditional feel as you enter.  You are welcomed into their common room where you fill out paperwork and choose what poses you would like during your photo shoot.  You will then have to remove any makeup you are currently wearing in the washroom, where there are lockers to place your belongings.  They will give you a simple white under-robe  and white tabi socks, the robe which you will be wearing beneath your regular kimono.

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You then go into the makeup room, partnered with one of their professional makeup artists, where all of the magic happens!  

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Phase one includes skin cleansing, moisturizing and the application of white makeup powder.

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Phase two – four includes eyebrows, eyes, then lips!  Pictured above with my makeup artist Yukiko.  She was such a joy to work with, such a sweetheart!  After the makeup was applied, my hair was styled and sprayed to accommodate the maiko wig to make it look as natural as possible.

Here’s a quick video clip of how much fun and laughter actually happens during hair and makeup!  Look at those adorable little maikos behind me! 🙂

After makeup you go into the dressing room where you pick from over a hundred choices of kimono and obi combinations.  I picked a black and red color palette.  Pictured below are the racks of exotic and colorful kimono designs and obi sashes you could select from.  

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In the photo above, pretty Kelsie is getting dressed after choosing a pink and light green ensemble. 

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After dressing, we are taken into a different room where the indoor photo shoot takes place.  Below is a candid while doing a sitting pose, with photographer Mark guiding  proper body angles and where to look.  

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After the indoor photo shoots, we were given one hour outdoors to walk/tour the streets Maiko style 🙂   We could not do it without our platform clogs, or slippahs as we call it here in Hawaii.

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During the walking tour, our husbands Marlon and Bronson along with little Kellon became our personal photographers.  They took candid photos as we strolled the fascinating streets of Gion.  It was like taking a step back in time as you meet tourists dressed in casual kimonos and yukatas.  There were some locals who may have believed we were also real maikos on the way to an appointment.  It was sooo fun to see how curious and starstruck they were. 

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Photo above were students from Sakurajima Elementary School who wanted a photo, they were soooo adorbs!

And just a few more photos featuring Honey-san and Kelsie-san as Maikos, promise 😉 ….

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Doesn’t it look fabulous?!?!

If you are thinking of doing something as amazing as this during your travel to Japan, contact AYA KYOTO below:

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“Maiko or Geisha in Kyoto. Try on a Maiko Costume at AYA and experience the exotic worlds of traditional Kyoto culture. to be a Maiko makeover yourself. “

They recently received a 2017 Certificate of Excellence from Trip Adviser where they hold an average of 5-star reviews!!!

If you are still not convinced, watch their official YouTube video below

Thank you so very much AYA KYOTO, we had the time of our lives, we will never ever forget our memories in Gion.  Much love and Aloha from Hawaii!!!

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Honey

 

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Superman – The Man of Steel

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… it’s Superman!

The Man of Steel. (gasps)

Seeing the movie preview before The Dark Knight Rises gave me goosebumps all over, I am absolutely looking forward to seeing this next summer.

Directed by Zach Snyder, the much anticipated The Man of Steel stars the stunning black-haired, blue-eyed Henry Cavill as Clark Kent.

There was a little glint of hope in us Smallvilleholics that Tom Welling would have snatched this role, but there is an undeniable magnetism in Cavill that oozes Clark Kent’s charm and Superman’s vigor.  Twenty nine years old, standing at 6’1”, Cavill appeared in films such as I Capture the Castle, Tristan and Isolde, and The Immortals, as well as the popular Showtime series The Tudors.  Interestingly, Stephanie Meyer (author of the Twilight series) strongly wanted Cavill to play Edward Cullen (too old to play the role), and was also considered as the next James Bond (Daniel Craig got the part).  The universe had other plans for ya, Henry.   You are the perfect Clark Kent, and you can pull of his glasses pretty damn well.

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the new Superman.

Image courtesy of WB

Notice anything with the costume? Revamped and a little “alienistic”. New chain-like texture, similar to Spiderman’s costume, which gives it a more serious tone. Also, for the first time ever, no red briefs. Someone finally got the message that no one (not even a superhero) in their right fashion state of minds would wear their underwear outside of their pants.

Speaking of, what does one wear to a movie premier of Superman? Kelsie and I joked about wearing superman t-shirts to the theaters to proclaim our love to Clark Kent, but I thought a Superman-inspired outfit would do. Considering it will be in the summer, a light ensemble of shorts and t-shirt, or a light maxi dress with flip flops.

The Man of Steel premiers June 14, 2013. The all-star ensemble also include Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Russel Crowe (Jor-El), and Kevin Costner and Diane Lane (Mr. & Mrs. Kent).

See official trailer teaser below:

 

Love,
Honey

Masters of Body Art- Tattoo Honolulu Exhibit

Sorry my fashion darlings, but I just can’t get enough of Hawaiiana art and culture!

Here’s a quick post on a current exhibit at the Honolulu Museum of Art that I got to visit (again) today.

“The Honolulu Museum of Art breaks new ground with an exhibition focusing on Hawai‘i’s high quality of tattoo art—and how it sprouted from the islands’ mix of cultures rich with tattoo traditions -Hawaiian, American, Japanese and Polynesian cultures. By linking the past with the present, the museum hopes to expand cultural awareness not only about the art of the tattoo, but also the rich cultural traditions it is based on.” -Honolulu Museum of Art

Presently, Honolulu is recognized as one of the world’s tattoo meccas.

Featuring the work of 10 tattoo masters, the museum displays a photographic collection of their craft, skills and ideas. An example of the featured photograph:

The exhibition began on June 14, 2012 and will run through January 13, 2013.

Also available at the museum is the Tattoo Film Festival between June 23rd and July 6, 2012.

A Lecture series by Tricia Allen entitled Tattoo Traditions of Polynesia will be held on July 30th and August 5th at 7:30pm.

On a personal level, I don’t see myself ever marking my body in that way permanently, as I see my body as a temple, I respect it too deeply 😉 However, after today, I also have a new found respect for tattoos as a form of historical art, tying our peoples, culture and generations together.

I won’t be posting too much photos as I would rather that you visit the exhibit to see the for yourself the magnificent work of these artists.

Thanks to the ladies Jen, Jena, Catt, Retch, Sammie, Nat, Ersa, Janice and the only gent Jacob for a wonderful tour at the Honolulu Museum of Art. As always, I had a fabulous time!

“Art is a shadow of what a person is thinking. a small glimpse of what they hold inside. Little secrets, regrets, joys… every line has its own meaning.” -Unknown

Love,
Honey

Hawaii Plantation Village

While we are on the topic of museums…

Another great place that I visited during my staycay (stay + vacay) here in Hawaii Nei the beginning of June was the historical Hawaii Plantation Village, an outdoor museum in old Waipahu.

“Hawaii’s Plantation Village is an outdoor museum that tells the story of life on Hawaii’s Sugar Plantations (circa 1850-1950). The Village includes restored buildings and replicas of plantation structures such as houses of various ethnic groups, community buildings such as the plantation store, infirmary, community bathhouse, and manager’s office. We share the story of Hawaii’s various cultures, including Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino.” – Hawaii Plantation Village

It was a very educational experience.  Almost like stepping back into time and grasping the life and culture of the plantation workers who made Hawaii to be what it is today.  We had a wonderful tour guide named Brenda, and  with it just being my sister and I, it was like having a private tour 🙂

By visiting the museum, I know that I have paid my gratitude to those who lived the harsh life of the plantation to give their families and the future generation better opportunity.

Definitely a must-see if you are into Hawaiian history and culture.

Hawaii’s Plantation Village
94-695 Waipahu Street
Waipahu, HI 96797
tel: (808) 677-0110
www.hawaiiplantationvillage.org

Admissions
General Adult Admission: $13.00

Discounted Rates
Out-of-State Seniors (62+ with ID): $10.00
Military (with valid ID): $7.00
Kama’aina (with valid ID): $7.00
Youth (ages 4-11 years): $5.00
Child (3 and under): FREE

Some photos:

Love,
Honey