What is “Hangyoku” ?

What is “Hangyoku” ?

Is it one type of geisha?

The full-fledged geisha is called “ippon” and the fledgling geisha is called “hangyoku” (半玉). The word Hangyoku translates to ‘half jewel’ as they were paid half as much as their fully-fledged Geisha colleagues. This is also another label for those who are still in training to be a professional entertainer. However, nowadays, the charge for “hangyoku”(the regular name is “hinako”) is equal to that of the full-fledged geisha. This term mostly refers to geisha apprentices in Tokyo while in Kyoto, the most equivalent term for “hangyoku” is “maiko”.

Several differences between a hangyoku and a geisha:

  1. Hairstyle:

Geisha usually wear a simple wig over their natural hair, however, maiko or hangyoku style their own hair into elaborate arrangements that vary depending on the stage of training they are in.

2. Hair accessories:

Hangyokus wear several elaborate hair ornaments such as a fan or ball-shaped ornaments and combs. There is also the hanakanzashi – an ornament with silk flowers dangling from the hangyoku’s head to her chin.  While this is one of the most recognizable hair ornaments, it is only worn during the first year Minarai stage of a hangyoku’s training.

In contrast, geisha wear simpler ornaments or decorative combs in their hair as similar as in the picture below.

3. Makeup:

As maikos/hangyokus do not wear wigs, they will have a noticeable band of unpainted skin at their hairline. Their eyebrows will be colored with red or pink, while their eyes are outlined in red and black. First-year hangyokus have only their lower lip painted red, while hangyokus in the second year of training and beyond have both lips painted.

By comparison, as geishas normally wear wigs, there will not be any band of bare skin at their hairline. Their eyebrows will only have a touch of red, while their eyes are only outlined in black. Both their lips will be painted bright red.


Hangyoku often wears brightly colored, long-sleeved kimono with a wide obi that is arranged into a bow at their back and extends to their feet. The collar of their kimono will hang low at the back of their neck and is thick and embroidered, containing only red, gold and white colors.

The geisha are older, hence wear more mature kimono, usually in solid colors and shorter sleeves. Their obi are narrower and tied in a square knot, while their collars are completely white and sit higher at the back of their neck.

Sources: http://kimonogeisha.com/2015/02/23/

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.