1. The best 3 dinners with Geisha in Kyoto

The best 3 dinners with Geisha in Kyoto

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Masaya Osada

Masaya Osada

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!

 

Dinner with Geisha in Kyoto would be a most pleasurable event, for not only foreign people but also for native Japanese. For to have a Japanese meal – washoku (和食) – registered as an intangible heritage asset by UNESCO in 2013. Japanese food is becoming very popular. It is of course very tasty, but we must start to understand that for Japanese people, it is not just about eating and gaining nutrients for good health. It is also the means by which to treat the family, friends, and guests – having meals together is a special occasion – treating others how you want to be treated yourself – this is Omotenashi (おもてなし).

Unique culture of Geisha

One of the most recognizable representatives of Japanese culture and leading experts of omotenashi is the Geisha. Professional entertainers, hostesses and skilled exponents of omotenashi, the Geisha are trained to pamper guests, cater to their immediate needs and create a relaxed, fun and comfortable ambiance.

Just imagine having a delicious Japanese meal, and next to you sits a Geisha in a beautiful kimono – she is treating you impeccably, pouring your drink, conversing politely, and all set in a traditional Japanese room in Kyoto. It is the epitome of Japanese culture and tradition. But there is an unknown fact, even amongst Japanese or Kyoto residents – that not only is it rare to see Geisha, it is even more rare to be able to be in their company! Why? It is due to a tradition called Ichigensan okotowari (一見さんお断り). To be accepted as a customer, you must have an invitation from another regular customer – It is a matter of trust. So Geisha remains something of a mystery for a reason.

It is interesting, isn’t it? So if you desire to meet a Geisha at dinner, but you don’t know any of their regular customers, who do you turn to for an invite? And so the mystery deepens.

But there is another way in which to meet Geisha, another way to enjoy an “Enchanted Time with “Maiko”, a chance for you that may be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Let me take you to another destination in Kyoto!

The best 3 tours with Geisha for you:

<Ganko Geisha Plan at Nijoen>

Ganko’s concept is “Enjoy the food culture of Japan with the hospitality of Ganko”. It started as a sushi shop in Osaka in 1963, and now a “Maiko Plan” is available at Ganko.

 

<Enchanted Time with “Maiko”>

Enchanted Time with “Maiko” offers all travelers to Kyoto an unforgettable experience, especially focusing on meeting Geisha. Travellers are able to now have a real Geisha experience – outside of the tradition of Ichigensan okotowari and its very expensive costs.

 

<Kyoto Dining with Geisha>

Kyoto Dining with Geisha is run by a Ryokan (a type of traditional Japanese inn). Customers meet Geisha in one of the rooms where there are tables and chairs for dinner.

 

Ganko Maiko Plan at Nijoen

Enchanted Time with “Maiko”

Kyoto Dining with Maiko

Price

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

Availability

As and when you require

Every Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday

Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday

Time

At your convenience (One hour only)

6 pm- 8 pm

6 pm- 8 pm

Kaiseki cuisine at Ganko, a stunning view of the Takase river, in the company of a charming Geisha for one hour – this is a real experience of Japanese culture.

For 50,000 yen, Ganko will immerse you in the rare and beautiful world of the Geisha/Geisha.

Please be aware that there might not be enough time for you to take pictures with the Geisha on some occasions, and an additional fee might be charged for the peak seasons.

Booking is required, only by phone (075-223-3456).

You will be escorted to a small Japanese Tatami room where you will find a beautiful Geisha waiting for you. The Geisha will welcome you a bow and a smile – and so begins the enchantment.

Enjoy conversing with the Geisha whilst you are having a Kyoko style Japanese multi-course meal, and don’t worry if you don’t speak Japanese, as there will be an interpreter on-hand. As traditional in Japan, you will be sitting on the Tatami mat during your experience, which you may find difficult at first, though after a while you will forget as the Geisha to you deeper into the enchantment.

The Geisha will also perform a Japanese traditional dance, she’ll tell you a story about being a Geisha and will involve you in playing traditional games, centuries old.

You will be allowed to take pictures and videos during your time with the Geisha, which will allow you to share your experience with friends and family.

Enchanted Time with “Geisha” offers a great deal for a reasonable price. You will be entranced by the whole experience in the room for up to 24 people – imagine being in the presence of a Geisha for two hours – I am sure that the time will be unforgettable, and lots of fun! Online booking is available.

The venue for Kyoto Dining with Geisha is a part of a Ryokan, which is a traditional Japanese inn, enhancing the pleasure and adding to the atmosphere. If you would like to enjoy an experience with a Geisha, Kyoto Dining with Geisha would be a good choice, as tables and chairs available – there will also be an interpreter for you. Please be aware though, that if two of you are visiting, you may be asked to share the table with others, but it could be fun to engage in conversation with strangers.

Online booking is available.

What is included in the Geisha experience of “Enchanted Time with “Maiko”?

<Japanese meal>

A Kyoto style, Japanese multi-course meal is included. It starts with appetizers, oden, sashimi, tempura, beef steak, rice followed by a Japanese dessert. You will see that a Kyoto style Japanese meal is more than just a meal, but more like beautiful piece of art; hot and cold, fish and meat dishes, and of course many different kinds of vegetables. All ingredients are very fresh and prepared carefully, paying great attention to the different colors and textures for your enjoyment.

A vegetarian menu is available, so please make a note of this on a booking form.

In addition, all-you-can-drink is included, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

 

<Conversations with Geisha>

A Geisha will sit down beside you and start conversing with you straight away. The Geisha has quite a mystique about them, as they only exist in a few areas of Japan. So it is not only non-Japanese people but also for Japanese people too, that highly prize a rare and unique experience with a Geisha – for most, only ever seen on TV or film. Therefore, it is a special treat to meet a real Geisha.

But you will find that Geisha is so friendly – like an old friend with a smile like an angel – but of course, a professional of omotenashi, looking after the conversation and making you feel welcome. Please take the opportunity of being able to chat with Geisha directly and ask her various questions that you might have. Maybe “If you weren’t a Geisha, what would you be?”, and she will answer sincerely.

Geisha also has a sense of humor, not just a serious demeanor, so the conversation with you will see you laughing as well!

   

<Ozashiki Asobi experience>

Now you are going to join the Ozashiki Asobi after the Kyoto style Japanese multi-course meal. Ozashiki Asobi is like a party in which you play games – it’s great fun. The games are very traditional but don’t be shy to join in, as they are very simple, and the Geisha will teach you how to play anyway. Some games include “rock, paper, scissors” – sound easy? You’ll get to use to playing straight away!

<Photo shooting>

After the fun and games, you’ll feel that the Geisha and you are friends, and find that two hours have gone by so quickly, but there is one last thing to do – you must take pictures. You are also free to take video as well. Also, pictures taken by the staff will be given to you after the event. It is still good manners though to ask the Geisha when you’d like to take pictures and video.

You can share these memories with your family and friends or post these pictures on your Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook. I’m sure that you will get a lot of likes!

Let me remind you again that spending time with Geisha/Geisha is the very rare opportunity, as it is a glimpse of a unique and sometimes mysterious world – a world that has the unique policy of Ichigensan okotowari, so not even Japanese people get to have such an experience unless they know regular customers.

The Geisha experience of “Enchanted Time with “Geisha” is the way for travelers who want to discover the ultimate in Japanese culture – an opportunity to make a dream come true.

 

Few things for you to know

 

<about Geisha/Maiko and alcohol>

You must be 20 to drink alcohol under Japanese law.

Geisha/Maiko is usually around 15 years old, so they can not drink alcohol and you must not suggest it.

<about Kimono>

One of the hallmarks of Japan is the Kimono – Geisha has some stunning ones. This is one of the pleasures of meeting a Geisha, you will see the true beauty of a Kimono.

Please be advised that you must not try to touch her Kimono. The Kimono is elaborately made, a piece of art, her Obi (the wide belt) and her other items, are treasures and very expensive. We would ask you to respect this and enjoy looking only.

Sign for tourists at Gion district

5 things you enjoy

<Kimono>

You already know that the Kimono is Japanese traditional cloth, and has more than thousand years of history, that is why there are many interesting rituals surrounding it.

Let me introduce some of them:

There are four seasons in Japan, and it is very important for Japanese to feel connected to them. You may know already that Japanese people enjoy Hanami in Spring – having a party under the cherry blossom trees, and also Koyo in Autumn – going out ignorer to enjoy the changing colors of the leaves.

Kimono also express the seasons by the various patterns and designs on them. The most popular patterns are flowers, so a Geisha will choose a seasonable color or pattern on her kimono to reflect a particular season.

There is another Kimono habit which relates to the age of the wearer. The younger, the more colorful. You remember Geisha is a working girl, but still only a teenager. So their Kimono has vivid and bright colors. You may also have noticed that sleeve (sode) lengths vary. The Geisha, because of her age, will wear very long sleeves (Furisode). Fully fledged Geisha, because of their maturity and status, will wear shorter sleeves.

<Kanzashi>

Kanzashi is a hair ornament used in the traditional Japanese hairstyle of Geisha/Maiko. There is a rule regarding the Kanzashi size that relates to the Kimono – the younger the person, the bigger the kanzashi. Kanzashi are made of coral, jadeite, tortoiseshell and ivory, with beautiful seasonable patterns and decorations. Geisha uses Kanzashi in the same way they choose their kimono, by thinking of the season.

 

 

<Obi length>

Obi, (the wide belt) is so beautiful. Geisha put on a very long Obi hanging down at the back and almost reaching to her calfs. Generally said, a long obi represents the daughter of a wealthy family, and it also serves to make the Geisha look petite.

It is very heavy, so male staffs have to help her to put it on.

By the time the Geisha becomes a Geisha (or Geiko), her obi’s length changes to become much shorter.

 

<Family emblem on Obi>

Geisha belongs to Okiya. An Okiya is a boarding house where the Geisha lives after she has left her family home. There is an Oka-san (literally a mother) to look after each Geisha, and each Okiya has a Family emblem or crest (Kamon). How can you find which Okiya a Geisha is belonging to? If you look at the Geisha’s obi, there is always a family emblem on it. Therefore you can tell which Okiya the Geisha is from by looking at her obi. A Geisha of around 15 years old, works at a party at night and may eventually fall asleep. So party staff can check her obi for her Okiya emblem, and then they can take the Geisha back home safely.

Obi length and Family emblem on Obi

<Geisha’s name card>

There is a must item for all Geisha – that is their Hana-meishi (花名刺 – a name card). The card has information about Geisha, for example, her nickname and the name of the Hanamachi (Geisha district) that she is from. These cards are usually decorated with some patterns and drawings, like seasonable images, Chinese characters, Japanese toys and so on. A Geisha, as a business person, gives her name card to the customers at a party, so this is very important for the Geisha to make a very original card to allow customers to remember her well should they want to make company again in the future.

Geisha will sometimes design the cards by themselves, some choose different texture papers to make the card very original and of course, memorable.

Nowadays, there are many Geisha strolling around during the daytime, or having dinner at a restaurant, but these are often not the real ones. These are often girls who wanted to be a Geisha for leisure, or as part of an experience in Kyoto for their own good memory. In fact, there have been a number of issues due to their wrong manners in representing the Geisha.

The real Geisha wouldn’t be seen during the day, as this is their practice time for their performing. The real Geisha wouldn’t were a wig, instead of having their own hair made up into the traditional hairstyle.

And of course, their manners and behavior are quite exquisite and are totally different from the impersonators.

The deep unchanged for hundreds of years culture of the Geisha can’t be everywhere, even in Kyoto. That is why it is so exceptional to see one!

This is reflected in the cost – it is not cheap to meet a Geisha privately. So If you would like to meet a real Geisha, on a reasonable budget, I’m 100% sure to recommend the whole package of a Geisha experience offered by Enchanted Time with “Geisha”.

Why don’t you have a look at the website anyway and have think about it? Thank you very much for your time!

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

Author Profile

Masaya Osada
Masaya Osada
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!