What does the inside of an okiya look like? I'm fascinated by Japanese architecture and was wondering whether there are any images of geiko/maiko inside an okiya. I know it probably sounds a bit strange, but I'd love to know what the interior decor of a traditional Kyoto okiya looks like. You're a very kind person to maintain this blog whilst patiently answering all our questions, so thank you very much. My favourite maiko is Katsuna :)
Here is a short summary of the general composition of an okiya:
Okiya are usually pretty small, like most classic Japanese wooden houses and from the outside, it often looks like okiya and ochaya are very closely crowded together in the hanamachi.
Okiya have traditional Japanese sliding doors called fusuma (like most traditional Japanese houses) and byobu, foldable paper screens, and shoji which are also used as room dividers.
An okiya has a kitchen, which are usually super modern and big these days, a dining room, several rooms for sleeping, one or two dressing rooms, one or sometimes several rooms to store kimono and obi, either several bathrooms or a seperate bathhouse (this often depends on the age of the building), a salon to welcome guests in and sometimes a living room. Older okiya also often don’t have central heating.
The entrace of an okiya has a traditional Japanese genkan, which either has a stone floor or just tramped down soil. In the genkan, there are benches for visitors and shoe cabinets and there is a small step in front of which you take off your shoes before entering the house.
Most okiya have two stories, the living spaces are on the ground floor and the sleeping spaces are on the first floor.
Most okiya are built around a small Japanese garden in the center of the house.
There are a lot of documentaries in which you can see okiya from the inside! Here are some of them:
- Geisha Girl by the BBC (2005)
- History of Geisha by the NHK
- Japon: Au cœur de l'une des dernières écoles de geishas (French)
- Seasoning the Seasons: The Enigmatigmatic Entertainers of Gion
- Beautiful Kyoto: Being a Maiko