Deconstructing the Maiko Look

Within the course of this year, I have been fortunate enough to have been able to purchase two maiko wigs, as well as a maiko haneri collar. Now it’s my turn to pass on what I have learned to you guys!

Maiko haneri can be very expensive. However, if you’re good at embroidery (or have a nice sewing machine or dedicated embroidery machine), it’s much cheaper to make your own. All you need is a heavily embroidered white design on a piece of chirimen (crepe) red silk, and flecks of golden thread woven beneath. However, even if you do this, you still need an “easy collar” to hold the haneri in place on your neck, or else it’s just a piece of very pretty floppy fabric. In case anyone is interested in creating their own maiko collar, or for those of you just interested in its construction, I have gone through and taken pictures and measurements. I covered everything I could think of, but if you don’t see something that you want, please feel free to contact me, and I’ll be more than happy to take pictures or provide additional measurements.

Here you can see the haneri already attached to the easy collar. The thin white pieces of fabric on the sides are for tying the collar to your chest; you simply wrap them around yourself and tie. They also help keep the collar stable on your neck and prevent it from flopping about everywhere under your kimono. Note that there is also a piece of white fabric under the haneri on each side….I have turned these up in the first photo, as my particular haneri is very stained in that area, and does not make for a nice picture.

The topside of the haneri:

The underside:

Close-up of the chikara-nuno stitched to the back of the collar, from the underside. This piece of cloth allows the collar to hold a very low v-shaped dip on the back of the neck, which is achieved by taking the two white strips attached to the sides and wrapping them around your body before tying them off in the front.

Detail of how the chikara nuno and haneri are attached to each other, as well as to the stiffener underneath:

Underside of the collar, showing how the haneri is folded over, and the placement of the stiffener and cotton covering:

Detail view of cotton covering and stiffener:

And here is two photos showing how it looks when worn. Normally, a kimono would be on top of this piece, and cover all but a wide strip of the collar in the front, which gradually tapers towards the back. (Please forgive my lack of padding here, I threw it on before heading out the door to work one day)

As you can see, the collar dips quite low in the back:

I am also in the process of collecting the rest of what I need to finish off the maiko wig sets….all I need now are hana-kanzashi for the wareshinbou style (left), and plastic faux-bekko kanzashi as well as a crane-and pine  kanazashi for the sakkou style (right).

Here is a side-by-side comparision from the back:

That’s it for this update! I plan on dressing in kimono sometime next week for the holiday season!


2 Comments Add yours

  1. karen says:

    Simply gorgeous! Congrats on your impressive knowledge ^.^ I’m a newish enthusist of maiko/geiko attire. I’ve been dressing up as a maiko for Halloween for 3yrs now. Every year I try to add new authentic (or as close as I can financially get) items to my kitsuke. Can I ask where you find your katsura? I looked through your site to find the info but couldn’t locate it.

    Thank You Much!

    1. Sure thing! I buy my katsura from Yahoo Japan Auctions (, sort of Japan’s equivalent of EBay) However, YJA doesn’t ship outside of Japan (which sucks), so you have to use a third-party service that will bid on the item for you, then ship it to your house once they’ve received it at their warehouse in Japan. Two recommended ones are and (I find Noppin to be easier to use) Beware, however, that anything you bid on will most likely cost you at least $30-70 or more for shipping and service fees alone. I only use it to buy things I cannot get anywhere else (such as the katsura) To give you an idea of price, I paid around $300 USD for one of my maiko katsura, and it was an additional $80 in shipping and service fees. However, that price was perfectly reasonable, considering that katsura come in very large boxes, which are very expensive to ship internationally. You can use either english or kanji to search for things on Noppin….for kanji to search with, I recommend my friend’s page

      Hope that helps! 🙂

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