It is rare to see the revered Kyoto geiko (a more common term for geisha in the ancient capital of Japan) and maiko (a geisha in training) as you explore the city, let alone see what life is like inside a Okay (geisha house). Meeting traditional artists over tea or dinner is strictly a member’s affair, which is why the world of this historic art form is especially full of mystery and intrigue for a stranger.
If you’ve ever wondered what the daily life of the handful of geiko and maiko looks like in Kyoto today, you’ll get a surprising amount of information from this free animated series available at NHK World called ‘Kiyo in Kyoto‘.
The series is adapted from a manga of the same name by Aiko Koyama. The story centers on 16-year-old Kiyo, who moved from Aomori to Kyoto to become the resident cook of an okiya. Her childhood friend Sumire is also there, but unlike Kiyo, Sumire trains to become a maiko.
The anime is especially popular among foodies as it features close-ups of the mouth-watering meals Kiyo prepares for his roommates. The show also explores the everyday aspects of life outside of the kitchen.
NHK edited the series to include explanations of aspects of life that deviate from the norm, such as a rule that prohibits a maiko from carrying a cell phone. For the most part, however, the show reveals that the geiko and their maiko apprentices look more like us than we ever imagined, as they eagerly swap a heavy kimono for chunky-rimmed glasses and sweatpants. at home, or have an insatiable appetite for dumplings. at the end of a long day.
There are currently five episodes available to watch for free online. Each episode is 25 minutes long and there are English subtitles.
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