The Maiko of Somaro Teahouse
Maiko and Geisha are one of Japan’s most well-known cultural asset but also one of the most misunderstood as well! Now before we even start to talk about Yamagata Amazing Somaro Teahouse and its Maiko and Geisha, we believe that it is important to clear up a few things about the difference between Maiko, Hangyoku, Geisha and Geiko. A Geisha is a generic term that mean an “Arts Person” and who is a master in music, acting, literature, dancing, chanting and serving people (tea and such), simply put they are artists with many talents.
Now and despite whatever you have been told, there are no Geisha in Kyoto per se. Indeed the term Geisha is reserved for such artists who in the past were located within Tokyo and its surrounding area, where the term Geiko would refer such artist performing in Kyoto and the surrounding area. Simply put you have Geiko in Kyoto and Geisha in Tokyo. However, with time and in order to make things less confusing for outsiders, the term Geisha is, incorrectly, used now as a generic term.
The same applies for the term Maiko and Hangyoku. A Maiko/Hangyoku is an apprentice Geiko/Geisha who undergo a five-year training before graduating and becoming a Geiko/Geisha.
The difference here between the two terms also comes from where the student comes from. A Maiko is a student from Kyoto and who undergoes her training in Kyoto while a Hangyoku is a student that undergoes her training in Tokyo. Also, the term Hangyoku means here “Half Jewel”.
Now that we cleared a few things up, let’s talk about the Amazing Maiko of Somaro Teahouse of Yamagata. Located in Sakai district of Sakata, Somaro is a hub of Japanese culture where you can enjoy the beauty of Japanese traditional dance performed by two Maikos in one of the city’s most beautiful traditional houses.
Because of its huge influence in business due to its port, Sakata quickly became a powerful economic hub in the Tohoku region and has such Maiko, Hangyoku, Geiko and Geisha decided to establish their own community in this area and is why their presence so far up north in Japan.