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#FIUGoesAbroad: Two maikos, one geisha, and an okaasan


For some students, summer is about getting some R&R until fall comes around. Others have to take summer classes. And a few take it a step further and study abroad. FIU Goes Abroad will follow students on their trips around the globe and showcase their journeys using their photos, videos and gifs.

First week of class is always a little stressful, but our identical twins Shonda and Shalisha had probably one of the best first-weeks ever. Their second week was pretty big as well: class consisted of making udon noodles from scratch, creating scarves from natural dyes and their first test. However, the biggest standout event of the week was Maiko and Geiko.

The story of Maiko and Geiko

In case you’re wondering what Maiko and Geiko are, please allow us to explain: Geiko (known in Tokyo as Geisha) are talented entertainers, who are particularly skilled in song, dance and games.

Geiko are most associated with a three-stringed instrument known as a shamisen. Maiko, on the other hand are Geiko in training. They usually become Geiko at about age 20 or so, and there are other physical differences to tell the two apart.

For example, Maiko style their own natural hair, while Geiko wear wigs. We could go on and on about Geiko, as Geiko were the topic of one of our research papers in our Japanese culture class last semester, but there is way too much information to write about. We encourage anyone interested in Geisha/Geiko to look them up!

A rare sight

This week, two Maikos, one Geisha, and one Okaasan (“mother” of Geisha), came to my host university (Ritsumeikan), and the experience was incredible! Authentic Geiko/Geisha are a rare sight even for Japanese people, so the fact that we got to see them in person is simply amazing.

We were first treated to a spectacular shamisen and dance performance that stunned the crowd in awe. Following this, we played two music-related games with the Maikos and Geiko, to which one of us (Shonda) was pleased to win both games! This event is one reason why we are really enjoying this program. We get to experience different aspects of Japanese culture that even most Japanese people never get the chance to do. Here’s to next week’s events!

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