As with many things in the geisha world the hairstyles of the geisha and maiko are ritualised. Special meaning and seasonality is attached to each hairstyle and much can be told about the girl simply by reviewing her hair.
Many of the traditional hair styles work by geisha today were modern fashion in the Edo and Meiji periods. Today they are worn mainly by traditional artisans like geisha and kabuki actors. The styles take hours of waxing, teasing and construction and are designed to last many days. While maiko are expected to grow and use their real hair for these styles wigs are often used by geisha and dancers for practicality.
The first hair style, this is designed to be complex and emphasise the prettiness of the maiko.
The ‘split peach’ style worn after mizuage or a level of maturity is attained. In the back of the bun the colour is changed to match her changing of age. The splash of red (no longer red and white) is meant to be suggestive and the types of hair decorations must change to match the hair style.
A formal hairstyle worn for dance recitals, this used to be a common hair style for married women.