Now is the time to transform!
～the coiffure, the white make-up…
give the last finishing touches to hair with a flower kanzashi～
Here is a model for today’s transformation, Miss Honda. She is studying fashion design at Art University in Kyoto. It only took a minute to get her best shot before a maiko transforming. The cameraman just needed to release a shutter few times. Because she also models for college posters and several fashion shows, she is so used to be natural in front of the lens. A clear look with rock-steady eyes. From the start, it has become a greater pleasure for me to see how she transforms.
When a genuine maiko prepares for her look, she starts with the white make-up as hair is already done. In a case of maiko transformation, the very first thing to do is setting a wig.
There are two kinds -half and full. Like Miss Honda with long hair, half one is used .It is Daimino way to leave wisps of real hair at front and side in advance, blend them to the wig carefully for natural finish.
This is a half wig in wareshinobu style on the right. The coiffure is normally dressed for young maiko in a real life, there is a red kanoko(tie-dyed cloth with a pattern of minute rings) set in the middle of round part on the top, they can be seen both from the front and the back.
Speaking of wigs, some think that it is just to wear a hairnet and put on head, but the way is totally different at Daimino. After putting real hair into hairnet, they puff it up by putting a tip of comb into tiny single mesh of net. This gives hair a certain volume and a wig can be naturally fitted when it is worn.
While looking at Ms.Mouri’s work, I was absorbed in watching her fingerwork. It was so accurate, fast and beautiful. And some craftsmen came into my mind. They are called ‘finishers’, who do all sorts of finishing work for men’s tailored suits in London.
Instead of combs, they had needles in hands and hand-stitch to put the right side of garment and lining together at an incredible speed. Hems, armholes…wherever they sew, all stitch is made with equal distance neatly. I just think the person who masters his profession thoroughly is terrific, no matter in what field.
To blend real hair and a wig, ‘bindukeabura’ is used. This is special solid oil like a wax that can be melted with hand’s temperature. If you take a little piece and knead for few minutes, it soon melts softly and become a transparent liquid. They apply it on hair with a comb.
In addition, it is also used for maiko’s white make-up as a base.
Just like for genuine maiko, face powders in white and pink are prepared
When a base is done, it is time for shironuri (the white make-up). A Japanese cosmetic paste‘Nerioshiroi’ plays the starring role. It is dissolved with water before use. There is no certain lotion or concealer…And white and pink are the only color used at this stage. The procedure and tools used are simple, too. Pink powder is applied around edges of forehead and eyes to make softer look.
When Face, chest, neck are painted in white, then do the same for back…last thing is to draw a maiko’s trademark, the V-shaped pattern, on the back of neck.
Until this stage, Ms.Mouri was both working and talking at the same time, all of a sudden an expression on her face was changed. She started to focus her attention on the tip of a paint brush. There was a tense atmosphere.
I experienced this moment before at some other shop which also provides a maiko transformation service. Of course, I was not the one to draw, but I remember make-up artist stopped talking as she started to work on my V-shape pattern. My body trembled a little as Miss Honda’s nape of the back reminded me of a cold brush touching my skin.
Genuine maiko draw a pattern on nape of the neck herself, using two mirrors that are face to face.The other day, I was told that it is extremely difficult to draw an semicircular arc symmetrically. She said,“Even if it went all right with one side, it often happen to be distorted on the other. Everyday is a succession of failures! But I just need to keep on practicing it.”
Face powder is blended on skin with a sponge after applying with a brush. It is to make a texture that is even. Ms.Mouri colored the corner of her eyes in red, painted eyelashes with mascara.
And there is a rouge to finish. She whittled solid rouge with a cutter, dissolved it with water and add on lips. It is maiko’s style to line a little inwards than original outline of lips.
When make-up is completed, then it is a time to choose kanzashi. For maiko’s coiffure, flower one and the other one called ‘birakan’(kanzashi made in silver) are decorated together.
For flower kanzashi, customers can choose anything they like, but if no decision can be made, I recommend that it is best to ask for Ms.Mouri’s advice. She asks about intentions first, looks at an atmosphere of the person and gives her an appropriate one.
White, yellow, pink and lavender…Kanzashi chosen by Ms.Honda was one decorated with small flowers in many different colors Its taste is girl-like but graceful as well. Just like the ones for maiko, it is a superb piece of work which details are made all in silk.
You can enjoy a process of dressing kimono in maiko transformation on the next page.