How to Choose the Best Tour for Meeting a Geisha
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Nothing speaks traditional Japanese more than geisha. In this article, I will be teaching you how to choose the best tour to meet a geisha. It is important to note that geisha are not prostitutes. They are special people who offer an experience of traditional beauty so make sure that you join the tour to appreciate it.
Our 3 Most Recommended Tours
|Ganko Maiko Plan at Nijoen||Enchanted Time with “Maiko”||Kyoto Dining with Maiko|
5,000 yen for Kaiseki Cuisine / Guest
45,000 yen for 1 Geisha
|19,000 yen / Guest||19,000 yen / Guest|
|Venue||Ganko Takasegawa Nijoen||Yasaka-Dori Enraku||Gion Hatanaka Ryokan|
|At your availability||
Every Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday
|Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday|
|Time||At your availability||6 pm- 8 pm||6 pm- 8 pm|
Offers kaiseki cuisine, a traditional multi-course meal as you enjoy the view of Takase River. However, it only accepts reservations by phone (075-223-3456).
You get to be quite close to the
geisha as it accommodates up to 24 guests in a small tatami room. You even get to have a direct conversation with the
geisha as there will be an interpreter. Although it might be difficult for foreigners to sit on a tatami floor and eat, it also is a precious cultural experience.
You get to enjoy the atmosphere of a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, as the part of a ryokan is used for the venue. It might be a more comfortable choice for foreigners as there will be chairs.
When choosing a tour, it is important to keep in mind that the geisha world closely adheres to the rule, “first-timers are not welcomed.” This means that unless you are invited, you cannot see a geisha. This makes the Enchanted Time with “Maiko” tour special as you get to meet and spend time with geisha in a secluded space and even have a conversation through an interpreter. Although a normal package will cost almost 100,000 yen, you can have a rich cultural experience with a geisha at an affordable price by joining a group tour.
What is Included in an Ozashiki Experience
The ozashiki experience offered in a traditional tatami room, offers a meal, the opportunity you have a chat with a geisha, traditional games played at an ozashiki, and a photo shooting. This is quite a rare experience, as the time with a geisha is traditionally kept private. The “first-timers are not welcomed” rule makes it even hard for Japanese people to have this kind of experience.
Precautions in Participating in the Ozashiki Experience
A geisha is an underage person, so she cannot drink alcohol. Also, do not touch the kimono the geisha is wearing as it is extremely expensive.
Things to Pay Attention to when having an Ozashiki Experience
When joining an ozashiki experience, try to pay attention to the kimono and kanzashi (a traditional, decorative hairpin) that changes depending on the season and age of the geisha, the fact that the obi (sash wrapped around the waist of the kimono) is long for a geisha whereas it is short for a geisha, the family crest on the obi that shows which geisha house the geisha is from, the business card called hanameishi as it shows the geisha’s personality.
If you are just want to See a Geisha
If you don’t want to have a full-on private time with a geisha and simply want to have a glimpse of one, try going to the Gion Corner. You get to see seven different types of traditional performing arts, including the kyo-mai dance performed by geisha. It is located in Yasaka Hall next to the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theater. You can have an overview of Kyoto’s traditional culture in just an hour and is a guarantee that you can see a geisha.
Another dance worth seeing is Miyako Odori, a theater performance held at Gion Kobu Korenjo in Kyoto every year from April 1st until April 30th. This performance has been faithfully held since 1875 and is a beloved tradition carried out in Kyoto. A tea ceremony will be offered by geisha as well as a traditional dance performance.
Kamishichiken Beer Garden is also a fun event held every year from July 1st until September 5th at the Kaburenjo at Kamishichiken. There will be six geisha dressed in yukata, the traditional cotton kimono worn in the summer, serving guests every day. The basic set starts from 1,800 yen.
Although there are more people joining the “Maiko transformation experience” with the increase of tourists, note that real geisha do not walk around during the day or dine out, so it is important not to be confused. You may meet geisha dressed up after evening. However, you cannot ask them to have a photograph with you as they are on their way to work. Even if you ask them, you will be refused in eloquent Kyoto dialect, “kannin dosse” which means “please pardon me.” The iron rule is to join a tour if you want to take a picture with them.
- Born and raised in Kyoto. I love traveling. The more I was exposed to foreign culture, the more I realized how fascinating Kyoto is. This is why I am writing this English article for you to make your trip in Kyoto much more enjoyable!