We'll be in Kyoto in Novemeber and would love to see a geisha dance and participate in the tea ceremony before hand. I understand Kyoto is a good place to do this kind of thing, I wonder how we go about booking tickets and which is the best place to visit for this and also how the tea ceremony before hand works. It is expensive?
Geisha are traditional entertainers of Japanese arts and music specializing in Japanese dance, singing, and a variety of instruments including hand drum, shoulder drum, shamisen or Japanese flute. Geisha under the age of 20 or so are called maiko in southern Japan, and hangyoku in northern Japan. After a year of preparation, new geisha debut either as hangyoku or as geisha depending on their age at the time they debut.
In Japan you will find unique entertainers, who are incredibly good at business but often are unreachable for the common people. They acquire their skills after years of training and they have a peculiar appearance that is famous all over the world: the geishas. During the long history of Japan, they have earned the respect of the whole of society, and their service is highly revered.
Gion Corner is a place where you can take in seven kinds of performing arts, most notably kyo-mai dance performed by maiko dancers. Located in Yasaka Hall next to the Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theatre, the spot has a very international flavour, as it is popular with Japanese and foreign tourists. There is also a Maiko Gallery, where videos of dances, the hair decorations worn by maiko dancers, and other items are on display.
While there are countless girls walking the streets of Gion dressed in kimono and make-up, they are seldom the real deal. Known as geiko in Kyoto, geisha are high-class and greatly respected entertainers, trained for years in traditional instruments, dance, parlor games and more. Employed to provide entertainment at dinners and events, they are highly respected, and there are currently believed to be around fully-fledged geiko and a similar number of maiko in Kyoto today.
Every year Kyoto's geisha districts hold dance festivals, giving locals and visitors lucky enough to obtain tickets the chance to see the geisha in their full splendour with vibrant kimono and beautiful hair arrangements. There are four geisha districts in Kyoto each with its own theatre. The most famous and largest is Gion which is actually split in two: Gion Kobu and Gion Higashithe area featured heavily in Arthur Golden's best-selling novel Memoirs of a Geisha.
Centralized within the geisha districts, most famously Gion, they perform for small groups of guests in ancient teahouses. Unfortunately most of us are unlikely to bear witness to these demonstrations of grace and cultivated beauty as, not only is a performance understandably expensive, admission is reliant on an introduction from an existing client. Perhaps the only way we are likely to see this ancient art on display is the geiko dances of Miyako Odori.
There are opportunities to see geisha in Tokyo too—you just have to know where to look. Everyone knows about geisha, be it from that in famous book, the movie or general Japan knowledge. And seeing one is often high on the list of anyone visiting—but how do you make it happen?
According to most estimates, there are about geisha in Japanand many of them live and work in Kyoto, where they are properly known as geiko. The origins of today's geisha geiko and maiko can be traced back to the Edo Period —although they became most popular during the Taisho Period — To answer the most common question regarding geisha: they are most definitely not prostitutes. Rather, geisha are highly skilled entertainers, who entertain guests at private parties and dinners.