Where You Can Meet a Real-Life Geisha in Kyoto
It's a rare experience even for the Japanese.
Very little is known about geishas, apart from the knowledge provided by books and films. Despite this, their amazing culture lives on even in modern Japan. Meeting one, however, is a different story. Geishas or geikos, as they are called in Kyoto, are generally elusive.
If you really want to see a geiko, Kyoto is your best best. In this article, we list down a few places in Kyoto where you stand a better chance of having a geiko encounter.
Hanamikoji Street in Higashiyama District
Hanamikoji Street is located on the south side of Shijo-dori Street in Kyoto City. Here, you'll find a lot of traditional Japanese restaurants and buildings. Apart from this, you might also get the chance to see a geiko in this traditional townscape.
We recommend that you visit the area late in the afternoon since restaurants only start offering geiko dinners around this time. Do note, however, that they will not allow you to take pictures with them, nor allow you to touch them.
Yasaka Hall Gion Corner in Higashiyama District
Kyo-mai dance performance
The Yasaka Hall Gion Corner is a place where you can witness seven kinds of Japanese performing arts, such as the Kyo-mai dance performed by maiko dancers (young women who are currently in training to become future geikos), the bunraku puppet theater, and flower arrangement all on one stage. You can also enjoy a tea ceremony and koto (a Japanese traditional musical instrument) performances, gagaku court music, and kyogen theater here.
Tea ceremony performance
The performances are usually held from December to the second week of March on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and national holidays at either 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. One performance takes about 50 minutes to finish. The admission is ¥3,150 for adults, ¥ 2,200 for students (ages 16 to 22), ¥1,900 for children (ages 7 to 15), and free for infants (ages 0 to 6).
Geiko Tour Packages
Another way you can try to meet a geiko is by visiting restaurants where geikos serve. But you have to remember that you cannot just walk in these restaurants. Instead, you're supposed to follow an exclusive system called Ichigen-san Okotowari, where you should make your reservations through the regular customers.
Without this invitation or reservation, it is nearly impossible to get a slot. This is why meeting a real-life geiko is a very special experience even for the Japanese.
Your best bet is booking a geiko tour package from big travel agencies. These dinner packages often come at a price and must have reservations done in advance.
Provided by Karaksa Media Partner (13 February 2019)