The goal of a maiko’s career is to become a geiko. As for every other special occasion, this particular event is also celebrated with a meaningful ceremony. It’s called erikae (衿替え/襟替え) or, roughly translated, “turning the collar”. The collar worn with a geiko kimono is indeed different than maiko’s one—completely white, in the front and the back, carefully sewn onto a light pink undergarment (襦袢juban) which replaces maiko’s red robes. It’s not only a visual change but a mental transition as well. After the maiko adapts the new collar, she steps into an entirely different path. From now on, it’s expected from her to be more autonomous, liable, mature, and diligent, as she slowly adjusts to working for her account. It’s the final exam of her art skills, the one she’s been waiting for since she first stepped through the door of her okiya.
As autumn comes and leaves’ tones turn slowly into orange and red, all of the Kyoto hanamachi get into a festive mood again. October is the month of the sophisticated dance recitals which, unlike April’s Miyako and Kyou Odori, are not that much “touristic”. In fact, most of the tourists may have no idea about these shows, and the audience mainly consists of conscious spectators connected with this unique world of art. Tickets are usually hard to obtain and, if you ask me, maybe it’s better this way. Autumn dances of the Old Capital guard the mysterious aura of the upscale Kyoto entertainment.