Geisha and Maiko Tours In Kyoto
If you want to feel the traditional culture of Geisha and Maiko, Kyoto is the best place to select. There are lots of ways to feel the culture of them. You can go to the tea house to enjoy playing games and having dinner with them, or visit the Miyako Odori and watch them dance. In this article, I would like to introduce some ways to feel the culture more closely to understand what Geisha are, and how to meet a Geisha or a Maiko.
What is a Geisha?
Geisha are people professional in art. In kanji, “Geisha/芸者” means, “the art of person”. They’re highly trained in Japanese traditional dancing, music (such as singing songs and playing various musical instruments), and in manners too. In Kyoto, Geisha is also known as Geiko. You can’t become a Geisha even if you want to. There’s an age limit and it takes about five to six years of training to become a Geisha. Before becoming a Geisha, there are a few steps to follow. The beginning of the trainees are called Shikomi, and they’re around fifteen years old. They look after the house, start training traditional culture of art, and learn about the rules to live in Hanamachi; where the Geisha and Maiko work. This term continues about a year, but it depends on how much skills and talent the person has. After spending the days as a Shikomi, the next step is starting a career as a Maiko in Hanamachi. Maiko is only a transit point to become a Geisha. After five years of training as a Maiko; when the person is around twenty or twenty-one years old, finally they receive the permission to become a Geisha and leave the okiya; a house the Shikomi and Maiko are living. They say, there’s no ending for training art unless the person quits working as Geisha.
Are Geisha Prostitutes?
Geisha are not prostitutes. Geisha are people who are professionals in art. They sell artistic performances and not their bodies.
Best tour with Geisha in Kyoto
Actually, if you want to meet a Geisha and enjoy the time with them, it’s quite expensive so you need to prepare for that. Usually, when holding a banquet with the Geisha, there is no fixed price for the banquet. The bills change from a few points. If the customer invited a popular Geisha to the banquet, the cost increases. Not just only that, the numbers of Geisha and the size of the room makes the difference of the cost too.
This is an example if somebody was planning to have a Geisha banquet with three people. If the room cost ¥20,000-, invited three Geisha that cost ¥20,000- per person, eat a meal for ¥5,000- per person, and the drink cost ¥5,000- for three people, the total will cost ¥100,000-. As you can see, the cost changes by the rank of the Geisha the person invited, what kind of room they’re using, and what the people are eating and drinking. However, I have selected some cheaper tours more reasonable to meet a Maiko (an apprentice Geisha).
However, there are tours not that expensive to have a banquet with a Maiko (an apprentice Geisha). “Enchanted Time With Maiko”, offers the best opportunity for you to enjoy time with a Maiko. In the tour it includes dancing performance, Ozashiki games (playing games with the Maiko), taking photographs and having a conversation with the Maiko.
◾️ Enchanted Time With Maiko
Include: Having a banquet with a Maiko, enjoying games and Maiko performances
Price: ¥19,000 (Tax Included) per Guest
Time: 6pm- 8pm, Every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday
Venue: Yasaka Dori Enraku
Best place to see Geisha in Kyoto
You may have heard that you could come across Geisha and Maiko in Gion district at night. It is definitely true but as they on the way to their work, they are now allowed to talk with you or take a picture. Although there are more people joining the “Maiko transformation experience” with the increase of tourists, note that real maiko and geisha do not walk around during the day or dine out, so it is important not to be confused. You may meet maiko or 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. Therefore, the best way to see them is going to a certain place such as Gion Corner.
◾ Gion Corner
Include: A digest in one hour about six Japanese traditional culture including, Maiko performance show. They also have a coupon on the website that changes to ¥2,800
Tickets: Adults ¥3,150 (Tax Included)
Students (Age 16-22): ¥2,200
Children (Age 7-15): ¥1,900
Infants (Age 0-6): free
Time: 6pm adn 7:00pm Everday
Rules And Manners
It’s famous that new customers are not welcomed at some teahouses. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is that Kyoto has a traditional culture to really care to treat the customers. Therefore, the teahouse and the Geisha don’t know about the new customers, so maybe the service and treatment might not be enough and the new customers might not satisfy enough.
The second reason is, the customers don’t pay the bill after enjoying the time with the Geisha like a normal restaurant. The bills come a few days later to their houses. They take this way because, as I written in the first reason, the teahouse and the Geisha want the customers to enjoy the night and don’t want them to think about the money when they are enjoying the time. That is why the new customers need an introduction by someone who has respect from the teahouse.
At the banquet, it’s unnecessary to wear formal outfits. There’s no problem to wear formal out fits, but it’s more important to wear clean socks and shoes. That’s because the customers have to take their shoes off at the teahouse. The floor is tatami, and people have to remove their shoes off before entering the room. Except for this rule, it’s unnecessary to worry what to wear.
◾️ In The End
As I introduced in the beginning, there are lots of ways to touch the culture of Geisha. By using your five senses, feeling the atmosphere is what you can only do at Kyoto. It’s another enjoyment thinking by yourself finding out how to touch the culture of Geisha. It might be hard to find a Geisha banquet plan, but fixing out things is another enjoyable event when you travel around. Please enjoy the Geisha culture that you can only experience in Kyoto.
- 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.