1. Geisha Show In Kyoto

Geisha Show In Kyoto

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Kanae Nakahama

Lived in the States for ten years. Now living near a famous sightseeing area; Arashiyama, for more than 15 years. Watching people and feeling the culture in two countries made another point of view for me.

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Kyoto is a city full of traditional culture. For example, Geiko and Geisha are one of the symbols of Japanese traditional culture, especially in Kyoto. When you visit Kyoto, wouldn’t you want to meet a Geisha? In this article, I would like to introduce all kinds of ways to meet a Geisha.

Who are Geisha and Maiko?

Contrary to a still persistent misconception in some parts of the world, geisha are not, nor were they ever, prostitutes. They are in fact artisans – not courtesans – being highly trained practitioners of traditional Japanese arts and customs of hospitality. As accomplished performers, story-tellers, singers, dancers and musicians, their services have long been revered and coveted by the Japanese elite. Although geisha is today a generic term throughout Japan, these women are still known as geiko in Kyoto.

Maiko, on the other hand, are apprentice geiko (who might otherwise be known as hangyoku in Tokyo). Much about the lengthy five-year training they undergo to become geiko remains a closely guarded secret.

If you want to get more information about the difference between Geisha and Maiko, please visit here

Geisha Dance Shows

 

Geisha are professional entertainers who are highly trained in Japanese traditional dancing, music (such as singing and playing various musical instruments), and in manners too. Maiko is the term for a trainee, wishing to become a Geisha. They spend about five to six years as a Maiko before they become a professional Geisha. In the following paragraphs, I would like to introduce you to three shows that an audience can enjoy Geisha dancing shows.

One of the Most Popular Geisha Show Theater, Geisha show Gion Corner

Inside Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theater, you can find Gion Corner. Here, you can enjoy watching and digesting six different aspects of traditional Japanese culture in an hour. It starts with the tea ceremony; Kado (flower arrangement); Geisha or Geisha performance; Gagaku (Japanese court music); Kyogen; and ends with Bunraku (Japanese puppet theatre). Being able to watch six different traditional Japanese cultural assets in one sitting is a rare experience. The ticket costs only ¥3,150, and the show is held twice a day. It is a popular place to experience traditional Japanese culture, so the tickets soon get sold out, even though it is an ordinary day.

■Gion Corner

Tickets: Adults ¥3,150 (Tax Included)
 Students (Age 16-22) : ¥2,200
 Children (Age 7-15) : ¥1,900
 Infants (Age 0-6) : free
 Show: 6 pm and 7 pm every day

Duration: 50 min
Website: http://www.kyoto-gioncorner.com/global/en.html

Geisha Show At Kyoto Tower, Kyoto geisha show theater near Kyoto station

This tour is held at the Kansai Tourist Information Center of the Kyoto Tower Building. It is in front of Kyoto Station, so the access is very convenient – the tour is also all in English. During the Geisha performance, feel free to take photographs and enjoy the moment.

 

Tickets: ¥ 3,000-
Show : 3:45PM – 4:30PM
Available: Monday, Wednesday, Saturday
Inclusion: Photo service / English-speaking assistant / Geisha entertainment (song and dance)
Website: http://www.tourist-information-center.jp/kansai/en/kyoto/topics/detail.php?no=NjQ=

 

Geisha Shows with dinner in Gion, Kyoto

Even to people who live in Japan, it is a rare experience to have a banquet with a Geisha. The culture of Geisha is not so open these days, so people think it is still a very expensive and rare experience to have dinner with a Geisha. However, these days lots of people are interested in the culture of Geisha. There are lots of tours that people can join in easily.

In the following paragraphs, I would like to introduce three recommended dinner shows.

You can interact with Maiko at “Enchanted Time With Maiko” in Gion, Kyoto

Place: Yasaka do-ri Enraku
Price: ¥19,000 (Tax Included) per Guest
Show: 6pm- 8pm
Available: Every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday
Inclusion : Open Bar (Unlimited drinks / including alcohol) / Dinner / English-speaking assistant / Japanese-speaking staff / Geisha performance
Website: http://www.travel-kyoto-Geisha.com/main

 

 At Gion Hatanaka, you can have traditional dinner with Geisha show

Place: Gion Hatanaka
Price: ¥19,000 (Tax Included) per Guest
Show: 6:00 PM
Duration : 2.5 hour(s)
Available: Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday
Inclusion : Open bar (all-you-can-drink) / Dinner / Photo service / English-speaking assistant / Geisha entertainment (song and dance)
Website: http://www.thehatanaka.co.jp/english/

 

 

Five Hanamachi Holding a Geisha Dance Show in Kyoto, Especially around Gion

Geisha work in an area called Hanamachi;  also known as Kagai. Kamishichiken, Gion Kobu, Gion Higashi, Ponto-cho, and Miyagawa-cho are the five Hanamachi in Kyoto, and they are called “Gokagai” in Japanese. Every year at a particular time, a big Geisha performance is held within the five Hanamachi, and it is a program full of performances by the Geisha. Once you watch a show, the impact left is of an unforgettable experience.

Following, I would like to introduce the big Geisha performance shows – the five best performances held in Gokagai.

Miyako Odori

When the cherry blossoms are blooming in April, Miyako Odori is held. Miyako Odori has been in existance for 144 years, and it is by far one of the best Geisha performances in Kyoto. There are many programs during the show, such as dances expressing the feeling of the cherry blossom. Miyako Odori is held at Gion Kobu Kaburenjo and it is on Hanamikoji street. When visiting Miyako Odori, wandering around Hanamikoji street and watching the tea houses (where the Geisha and Maiko work) might be a nice chance to experience the history and culture in Kyoto.

Schedule: For 2018, the venue, dates, tickets, and performance times have changed because the building is under construction. For this reason please confirm times with the English website as follows: Click here

Kyo Odori

Kyo Odori is a beautiful performance by Geisha during Spring, held at the same time as the Miyako Odori and has been an annual event in Kyoto since 1950. Both Kyo Odori and Miyako Odori are for the local area – Kyo Odori is in Miyagawa-cho and Miyako Odori is in Gion Kobu. Each show has different dances and songs, all related to the area.

Kyo Odori is held at Miyagawa-cho Kaburenjo Theatre, which is not very big, so you are close enough to be able to see the Geisha’s faces.

7 mins walk from “Kiyomizu Gojo Station” on the Keihan line, or 20 mins walk from “Sanjo Keihan station” on the Tozai tube line, also 7 mins walk from “Kawaramachi Matsubara” bus stop on the city bus.

Schedule: Please confirm times with the English website as follows:Click here

Gion Odori

 

It is the only show held in Autumn, as others are usually held in Spring. Gion Odori started around the same time as Kyo Odori, circa 1952, and is organised by the Gion Higashi area. There are 500 seats available for the show and the theatre is called Gion Kaikan, very close from Yasaka Shrine. Just 5 mins walk from Gion Shijo Station or get off at the “Gion” bus stop on the city bus just in front of Gion Kaikai.

Schedule:Please confirm times with the English website as follows:Click here

Kamogawa Odori

Kamogawa Odori is organised by Pontocho, and was performed for the first time – mainly to attract more tourists to “The First Kyoto Exhibition” held in Kyoto in 1872. It used to be held twice a year, both in Spring and Autumn, but now is held only once a year since 1999, and it is from the 1st to the 24th May every year. It has always been held at Pontocho Kaburenjo Theatre, which is about 5 mins walk from Keihan Sanjo Station on the Sanjo Keihan tube line, which takes about 20 mins from Kyoto Station.

Schedule:Please confirm times with the English website as follows: Click here

Kitano Odori

Kitano Odori was first performed in 1952 as one of events for the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine festival. Since then, it has been held more than 60 times. The show is from the 25th March to the 7th April for two weeks every year, and is organised by Kamishichiken at Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theatre, which is very close from Kitano Tenmangu Shrine.

It’s very convenient by the city bus, just 3 mins walk from either “Kitano Tenmangu Mae” or “Kamishichiken” bus stop.

Schedule:Please confirm times with the English website as follows: http://www.maiko3.com/event/ev-4.html

Two recommend ways to purchase tickets

Online booking

Online booking is the best way for tourists. There is also telephone booking, or by sending a facsimile, but this may be an inconvenient way.

A package plan, ticket and hotel will be available during the Gokagai dance season.

Purchase on a day

You can purchase tickets at the ticket booking reception on the day if they are available, so you can see the show without pre-booking. You may need to be aware though, that tickets are not available on popular dates. There is more chance to get tickets for weekday shows, but NOT for weekends.

Summer Limited Edition, Kyoto Beer Garden With Geisha

In summer, there is a special event coming at two of the Hanamachi. Miyagawa-cho Kaburenjo Theater and Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theater will host a beer garden where Geisha serve beer to their customers. It is a summer only limited edition so don’t miss it.

 

 Miyagawa-cho Beer Garden, you can drink beer with Geisha in Gion, Kyoto

 

At the Miyagawa-cho beer garden, the Geisha and geisha welcome the guests. The Geisha serve the customers the beer and the geisha perform on a special stage. The food menu changes every day, which is another good point, allowing the guests to enjoy the beer garden even more. The food is made by chefs that work at Miyagawa-cho neighborhood restaurants. The seats are limited to only 100 seats, so do not forget to make a reservation.

Place: Miyagawa-cho Kaburenjo Theater
When: July 15 – August 31
1st Show : 6 pm – 7:30 pm
Tickets for the 1st Show: ¥7,000- (including the Bento box and free drinks)
2nd Show: 8 pm – 9:30 pm
Tickets for the 2nd Show: ¥5,000- (including appetizers and free drinks)
Admission: Geisha and Geisha performances, food, free drinks
Website: http://www.miyagawacho.jp
Phone: 075-561-1151 (Miyagawa-cho Kaburenjo Theater)

 

You can discover the history of Kamishichiken in Kyoto from Kamishichiken Beer Garden

Kamishichiken is the oldest of the five Hanamachi geisha districts in Kyoto, and it is a little far from the other four. Unfortunately, it is also the least popular Hanamachi, so it is a nice opportunity to discover the history of Kamishichiken by this beer garden.

Place: Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theater
When: July 1 – September 5 (2017), 5:30 pm-10 pm (Closed August 14-16)
Basic Cost: ¥2,000 (a beer and an appetizer)
Website: http://www.Geisha3.com (only in Japanese)
Phone: 075-461-0148 (Kamishichiken Kabukikai)

 

 

Other Ways To Meet Geisha or Maiko especially in Gion

 

Geisha are still expensive to meet. If you just want to watch them for a moment, there is one way to see them. Geisha work at night, and the ones who walk around the sightseeing area during the day are fake Geisha. But you can see authentic geisha before they go to the tea house to work. Geisha live in a place called Okiya, so if you just wait there at around 5pm to 6pm, you can see them heading off to work – or, waiting at the tea house is another way to see them. Teahouses are places where the Geisha work, and in Hanamikoji street, Gion, there is a famous tea house “Gion Ichiriki-tei” – the walls are red so it is easy to find. So if you wait there, you can probably meet a Geisha or a Geisha.

 

In The End

 

As you can see, there are lots of ways to meet a Geisha. The point is how much you want to meet Geisha. These days, there are a lot of tours held in Kyoto to meet them, so you can figure out the manner of how you want to meet them. Either way, there is no doubt, meeting a Geisha is just a fantastic and marvelous experience that not many people can have. So, enjoy your way of finding out how you want to meet them.

Even foreigners can now have access to Geisha and Maiko

We are proud to offer an excellent opportunity for foreign visitors to Kyoto to meet and interact directly with Geisha, at an exceptional price, every Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 6pm to 8pm. This tour includes dinner, an English guide, watching a traditional dance performance, and to also be able to play a unique game with the Geisha.

Are you curious about this tour? Check the detailed information, and make an online reservation now to meet an authentic Japanese Geisha in Kyoto!

Make an online reservation to have a precious time with Geisha!


Author Profile

Kanae Nakahama
Kanae Nakahama
Lived in the States for ten years. Now living near a famous sightseeing area; Arashiyama, for more than 15 years. Watching people and feeling the culture in two countries made another point of view for me.