Travel with Val: YNN's Travel Reporter tries on the Geisha look
YNN's Valarie D'Elia headed to Kyoto, Japan for a makeover that helped her learn what it takes to be a Geisha.
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For me, travel is transformative. I love how it so readily gets you outside yourself, helping us shed the psychological wardrobe of our daily lives.
That’s why in Japan I became intrigued by the idea of dressing up as a Geisha, or more specifically a "Maiko," an apprentice Geisha, or "Geiko" as they are called in Kyoto.
I visited an authentic Maiko house, through a special experience tour operator called Plus Alpha Japan that makes customized arrangements for tourists.
There are five Geiko districts in Kyoto and I was in the Miyagawacho district.
I could have gone to an ordinary photo studio to have a geisha glamour shot taken but this is more authentic, where the Maiko actually live.
In this case it cost $400, a small price pay to pretend you are under 20 again, with all the embellishments a young Maiko would wear, like the flowers in my hair woven into a wig and the flowing sleeves of the kimono.
White makeup, I will admit, is even scarier to this reporter than hi-def. And then all wrapped like a sausage, I had to catch my breath. It felt like I overdosed on spanx.
Once the Maiko graduate to Geiko, they can entertain for as long as they like, as the average age is 50 and there is no mandatory retirement. Now that's job security!
Back in the Maiko studio, after about an hour, I was camera-ready, as photos are part of the package. Normally, you get to take a spin around the district in your garb, but I got the picture without walking the walk.