• Beniko

17.How Maiko Buy Things

We, Maiko (舞妓), do not get paid. Instead, our Yakata (屋形, Maiko house) pays everything for us, including living expenses, costumes, and educations, etc. During the five to eight years of Maiko period, we receive monthly allowance of approximately 10,000 yen/month only.

When Maiko shops something, it will be billed to Yakata. We didn't have chances to use money because we were banned from going to downtown anyway even on our day off which was only once a month.

We were given sufficient clothing by Yakata, such as Kimono (着物) including ones for Ozashiki (お座敷, Maiko banquet) and daily use. The monthly hair ornaments were delivered to Yakata always in advance.

Sometimes we purchased cosmetics such as lipsticks or bottles of hair oil, but still, only thing we had to do was to tell the name of Yakata, and that's it.

My Okasan (お母さん, the female owner of Yakata) used to tell us, “It’s really disgraceful for Maiko to buy things in cash. Never mind the price if you want to be a first ranked Maiko”. Accordingly, I didn't even have a chance to use my allowance.

Sometimes, my Okasan and Oneisan (お姉さん, mentor Geiko) took me to a department store to buy Western clothes for my day-off. They purchased dresses and bags from their personal shopper in the store and the bills were sent to Yakata automatically. At that time, the code of conducts for Maiko were very strict, to the extent that even going to cafe with colleague was banned. So, I was very excited like a child every time they took me to the town.

However, yes, I was a child in fact. Back then, I was only 16 or 17 years old. Whenever they took me to shopping, I was so happy that the hard training of dancing and tea ceremonies, or even frustrations from Ozashiki (お座敷, Maiko banquet), were all blown away.