"Being a maiko is a training period in order to become a geiko," the geiko Momifuku told me. Most maiko or "women of dance" spend five years as apprentices, and their appearance and actions differ from the more mature geiko.
A maiko's natural hair is styled, and it is filled with colorful kanzashi (hair ornaments). Her job is to brighten the atmosphere of any gathering she attends with childlike laughter and enthusiasm. With the vivid colors of her kimono, long darari no obi (sash), and dazzling kanzashi, a maiko literally glitters when she walks.
During my street photography days, I had about ten seconds to photograph a maiko, and my light sources were the sun, streetlamps, and vending machines. Once I started photographing inside the teahouses where maiko and geiko entertain in 2007, things changed.
I had to learn to light since teahouse rooms are quite dark. I started simply, using only a single strobe with an umbrella and a reflector, but now I use anywhere from three to five lights and a variety of modifiers and reflectors to create the moods I am after.