Art Gallery – Maiko by Charlotte Royal

Sometimes you find the most beautiful things in the most unexpected places. While browsing Kickstarter last year, I came across the Postcards from Japan project by Charlotte Royal. Her goal was simple and straightforward – travel across Japan while creating beautiful and unique works of art for people who helped back her financially.

The painting I received is an absolutely stunning watercolour painting of a maiko, done in Kyoto. I love the rich, warm colours and the thoughtful expression on her face. There’s so much personality and talent in this piece, and the fact that it’s an original, one-of-a-kind artwork makes it all the more special to me. It is large postcard-sized, more than enough room for lush detail but small enough to feel like a little jewel in my growing art collection

I have a bunch of new pieces I need to hang, and this one will definitely be front and centre once I figure out where everything is going.

I received this item as a backer perk for a project or product that was crowd-funded (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, etc)

Book Review: Geiko & Maiko of Kyoto


Geiko & Maiko of Kyoto
by Robert van Koesveld
Language: English
ISBN: 978-0-9944501-0-4
Buy Here

For this volume, van Koesveld was awarded the Photography Book of the Year (2015) by the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers, and it’s easy to see why. While the text is certainly interesting and well-written, the photographs are the heart and soul of this book. They are beautiful, and there are many of them. The book is full of gorgeous, crisp full-colour plates of geiko, maiko, live performances, as well as garments and accessories, and the skilled people who make them. It’s a fantastic glimpse into a world most of us will never get to see.

The book features interviews with maiko and geiko who live and work in Kyoto, as well as interviews and information about the artisans and craftspeople who support the community. It offers an unprecedented look into the Flower and Willow World, the mysterious and ethereal environment where these women live and work that most of us will never be able to experience. It is filled with information that anyone interested in modern geisha traditions and culture would love to have in their collection.

(The tinting and distortion in these sample pages is a result of my scanning process; the photos in the book are absolutely beautiful and these pictures do them no justice)

I would recommend this book for:


-People interested in the tradition and culture of geiko and maiko
-People looking for information about the artisans and tradespersons who support this culture
-Anyone who appreciates beautiful photography

I would not recommend this book for:


-People who have incorrect assumptions about geiko and no interest in learning
-People looking for instructions on how to dress maiko or geiko-style I received this item as a backer perk for a project or product that was crowd-funded (Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, etc)

Geisha Style Coordination

It seems like I’ve developed a pattern when it comes to dressing Tsukiko; alternating experimental or non-standard kitsuke with very traditional coordinations. I’d been wanting to do something with the gorgeous geisha hikizuri that Naomi and Erica gave me years ago. The obi is a Taisho-era chuuya from the big obi bundle several of us split a while back. It’s absolutely stunning, but it’s in very fragile shape – the black silk used to line these obi tends to rot much more rapidly than the silk on the front. I repaired one with similar damage a while ago, but I haven’t had the chance to do it to this one yet. Because of this, I wasn’t comfortable wearing it myself, but mannequin kitsuke tends to be a lot more forgiving. I absolutely love how they look together, so soft and desaturated and elegant. I don’t own a momi, so I used a red shigoki obi and obiage to replicate the pop of red under the obi, and pulled out a vintage red juban with a heavily textured collar already attached. I’d initially wanted to tie the obi in yanagi musubi, which is common for performing geisha, but because the obi is so delicate I figured it would be safer to stick with something I know how to tie quickly and easily, so I defaulted to a standard otaiko musubi instead. I think it still looks quite good.

I do wish I could leave this outfit up as a display, but between the fragility of the obi and the cats being fascinated by the trailing hem (and discovering that it makes a spectacular tent), it’s going to to have to be put away quite soon.

Araiso Geisha Hikizuri

If anyone needed further proof that I am spoiled far beyond anything I might possibly deserve, this is it. Friends and loved ones in the hobby are constantly sending me lavish gifts, but I think this one takes the cake. It’s a gorgeous lavender hikizuri that appears to have belonged to a geisha, with a motif of araiso, or carp and crashing waves, dyed in white and indigo. When I saw it on eBay, I fell hard in love with it. Unfortunately, I’d just splurged on a trip so my friend Keith and myself could go to California together and I could spend some time with Naomi. I did bid on it, but I knew once it hit a certain point, I couldn’t keep fighting, and had to bow out. I was upset, but I figured it was worth it – I was going to see some friends I hadn’t seen in a long time.

Fast forward to the trip itself. Keith has gone home and I’m settling in at Naomi’s place, and she’s (inevitably) dumping kimono in my lap. The two haori I posted about recently were some of the items I ended up with. At one point, she hands me a folded up purple-grey kimono, telling me it’s “some old thing [she] had lying around” and that I might like it. I do like lavender, and I thought it was an iromuji, so you can bet when I opened it up and figured out what the heck it was, I nearly had a heart attack. I have a history of cardiac issues and don’t take well to surprises XD I wasn’t sure whether to faint or cry. Thankfully I ended up crying, because fainting would have been a nuisance. Naomi confessed to me that she and Erica conspired together to get this for me, after seeing how sad I was that I wouldn’t be able to afford it. I really don’t deserve these friends! I’m not this good a person, I swear!

The kimono is just so incredibly breathtaking in person – photos do not do it justice. The gradient is so skillfully done, it is a perfect fade from a desaturated grey-lilac to a richer purple, and the yuzen work of the crashing waves and jumping carp on the hem is very thin and very detailed. The addition of the indigo really makes the carp pop out, and then some of them are lightly outlined in gold leaf. It’s a stunning piece, exactly the sort of thing I would expect on a slightly older, subdued geisha, someone who lets her art speak for itself but still makes sure her wardrobe will not be forgotten.

Araiso hikizuri

Araiso hikizuri Araiso hikizuri

Araiso hikizuri

I treasure this piece, and it’s really one of the gems of my collection. I will never part with it.

Geisha-inspired Meta-kimono outfit

I was so smitten with the kimono that arrived yesterday that I decided to put it on today, despite not having anywhere to go. Sometimes it’s nice to wear kimono just for the sake of wearing kimono – especially delicate vintage pieces.

There’s still a bit of ambiguity about what this piece actually is, but the general consensus on the Immortal Geisha forums is that it’s likely a vintage hikizuri. Because of that, I decided to go with a geisha-inspired outfit. Not a full on costume, but proper kimono with a bit of “flair”, if you will. I paired the kimono up with a red juban, a black and white hakata obi, and used a red shigoki obi in lieu of a momi (the red cloth geisha wear wrapped around their torso under the obi). I am really pleased with how this pulled together, and took far more photos than I usually do. Sorry about that!

Because of the formality, the styling choices, and the age of the kimono, this is not an outfit I’d feel particularly comfortable wearing out of the house, but I think it turned out well and I felt very pretty in it.