How to quickly distinguish a Maiko from a Geisha

Maiko – Apprentice Geisha in Kyoto, Japan.

How can you tell the difference between a Maiko and a Geisha?

Some of the easiest ways to distinguish the apprentice (Maiko) from the Geisha is by looking at their appearance. Whereas a Maiko wear a more colorful Kimono (dress) with a long ornate-style tied Obi (sash), the Kimono of the Geisha is generally more refined, having one color with patterns near the bottom. The Obi of the Geisha is normally tied in a box bow “Taiko”-drum style.

It is also easy to distinguish the Maiko and the Geisha by looking at the collar of their under-kimono. The ones of the Maiko are red and will become embroidered with white patterns as they advance. The Geisha’s collar is fully white.

Further distinction can be made by looking at details such as hairstyle, make-up, shoes, et cetera.