So I'm very late but I had a maiko transformation last April, right during the sakura season. As I had a very nice experience I would like to share it with you, also in case you are planning on doing a maiko henshin in Kyoto. I had actually been thinking and dreaming about this plan for a year and a half before actually deciding to do it
I had been looking at Gion Aya studio website again and again before going to Japan and had decided to have the "Nene Plan", which includes two photos taken inside, and four outside. I also asked for a CD of additional photos taken during the experience.
Truthfully, I was very anxious on the morning I went to the studio ! Though I don't really know why...
When I entered the actual studio, I ended up in a "Japanese traditional house"-like place where I was greeted warmly by the staff. I spoke Japanese all along and I admit it helps to create a very nice mood, but I saw other staff girls talking to Tawainese tourists in English and the atmosphere was also very nice.
I loved the make up part. The staff girl applied rouge on my lips in such a nice way that I really loved my reflection in the mirror. I really felt "maiko-ish" with this minor detail
The only drawback for the make-up part is that she applied too much eye liner on my eyelids, and it started dripping on one eye at a moment (I was very scared to have it get into my eye, for I was wearing lenses
Then I had a half-wig put on my head, and I asked for black spray on my hair to make it more natural. I was amazed again at the result. I didn't think I could really look like the real deal, but I was very satisfied with what I was seeing !
After waiting a little while as the studio was a bit busy, I was given time to choose a kimono. Well, to tell the truth, I had seen a blue one on the website I absolutely wanted to wear, and I was lucky enough to find it among the available kimono in front of me ! Yay~
I got dressed and was impressed that the staff girls can actually pull so hard on the darari obi while tying it ! About the obi though, I noticed several threads out of place on it, and it was not the only one like this. When I got to choose a hana kanzashi, I was a bit disappointed by the fact that almost all of the remaining kanzashi looked old and overworn. The most new looking ones must have been chosen by girls before me. I chose a weeping sakura/silver butterflies combo one.
And then I was ready to go ! So here are the studio photos :
These are the indoor ones. It felt great sitting on the tatami floor with the kimono leaves covering my hands like wings~
Then it was time to go outside. I asked for normal zori shoes instead of okobo, because I'm 1,70m and I felt it would seem really awkward if I wore even half-okobo. The staff was very understanding and I was provided with well-sized zori.
I was veeeeery embarassed to have to go in the street in this outfit. I attracted the attention of A LOT of Japanese and foreign tourists. I think I have been taken pictures of by at least 30 people while shooting
Well, I knew it would become something like that, and in the end it was as fun as it was embarassing
Here are some bonus pictures I asked the staff to take for me :
This is the only picture where I can actually see the full obi and my painted nape.
A close up on the kanzashi. You can clearly see it is not brand new but it's still cute in my opinion.
And I took this last one just to see the hikizuri actually trail on the floor like a real maiko haha.
In the end it was a very very nice experience, and in fact a dream come true. I really enjoyed myself doing this, and even felt "pretty" looking at myself with this make up on my face. I think I got more confident with Japanese traditional make up haha.
I could hardly recognise myself on the printed photos at first, and I think the staff did a wonderful job. I would recommend this studio to anyone who would like to do the same experience ! I am for myself really happy to have become a maiko (kind of...) for a few hours~