I recently made a 2 week trip to Japan, and before I set off one of the things I wanted to do when I was in Kyoto was to get dressed up as a Maiko, as it's a part of Japanese culture that I find fascinating. I went on a guided tour and my leader recommended Maiko Henshin Studio, so I'm not sure how the price compares to other places, but for the experience and memories I got out of it, I thought the price was very good.
The staff are friendly and speak enough english to instruct you whilst applying your make-up and dressing you. First, the make-up is applied and then you get to choose your kimono. The staff will then give you a choice of 3 obi that match with your kimono.
There are various options for which experience you get, and I went with the ¥13,000 option, which was 12 professional shots in the studio, and 60 minutes free time walking around outside. I would strongly recommended you choose an option which includes the free time walking around outside, as this was by far the most fun part! The studio is located just off a popular shopping street in a tourist area, so there were lots of people around. I went with a friend and we felt like celebrities with all the attention we got! Tourists, both western and Japanese, were asking to take our photo and lots of friendly Japanese people were coming up to us and telling us how great we looked.
The area around the studio also provides some nice locations for any photos you take in your free time walking around. The shots from the studio are very nice, the staff help you pose and tell you where to look etc, and afterwards you get a printed, laminated photobook which makes for a lovely souvenier. I also paid ¥1,400 extra for a CD of the photos, so that's an option if you want digital copies of the studio shots as well.
The quality of the transformation was very good, confirmed by the fact that when I showed the photos to my friends and family back home, nobody could recognise me! Also, when walking around outside a western tourist took our photo, and then thanked us in Japanese, so it must be quite convincing!
If you are interested in Maiko and Geiko, I would highly recommend Maiko Henshin Studio for a great experience (especially the free time walking outside), and one that will form some of the best memories from your trip to Kyoto.
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