Almost any tourist visiting Kyoto is hoping to see real live geishas walking through the small streets of Gion, the most famous and exclusive geisha districts in Japan. The chances are rather slim: I read that nowadays there are only between 1,000 and 2,000 geishas left in Japan (down from almost 80,000 in the ’20s).
However most of the times you see exquisitely dressed geiko or maiko (apprentice geisha) surrounded by huge crowds and one or two professional photographs. These are fake geishas. A popular thing nowadays is to get dressed up as a maiko/geiko in a specialized dress-up parlor and live the experience for a day. Usually such a thing costs around 100$ so it’s kind of affordable for any tourist, therefore you see them quite often.
Yesterday as I was wandering down the streets of Gion, I bumped into two fake maiko. They seem to be mother and daughter and even if they are not the real thing, I still think they are beautifully dressed.