Secrets of "Geisha" - How to enjoy a night in Kyoto


In recent years, the exploration of japanese culture and traditions in depth has become the focus of much attention for tourists from the Europe, America, Asia and so on.
Of particular interest are the "Geisha" (/"Maiko", "Geiko") seen in Kyoto and other cities.
This article focuses on geishas, geisha tours, geisha regions, maiko, culture and traditions, and how to enjoy a night out in Kyoto.

What is a "Geisha"?

A geisha is a professional in the traditional arts and entertainment of Japan.
A geisha is a person who performs shamisen(traditional Japanese musical instrument), dance, flute, drum, taiko, and other traditional Japanese arts in Japan.
In Kyoto geisha are called "maiko" and "geiko". Maiko and geiko are names unique to Kyoto.



A maiko is in training/apprenticeship to become a geiko, age: 15 to 20 years old in general.
They wear their hair tied up with their own hair and wear a hanging hairpin called a hana-kanzashi.
Their main job is to dance, serve drinks, and talk with guests at banquets.


A geiko is a promotion from the rank of maiko and specializes in either dance, singing, or shamisen.
Among geiko, those in charge of dancing are called "tachikata-san", and those in charge of singing and shamisen are called "jikata-san".
Tachikata-san dresses up with a wig and white skin makeup while jikata-san do not wear a wig and white-skin-makeup.

Generally, geiko and maiko do not walk around the town during the daytime, as they are usually practicing dance, music etc.
If you want to see the real geish, it is best to visit in the evening or later, when they are just about to go to work in the ozashiki (formal Japanese restaurant).

Main activities and roles performed by geishas


The main role of a geisha is to perform traditional Japanese butoh dances at a sake party.
Geishas are trained in a variety of butoh dances and perform them according to the season and the occasion.
Geishas may also participate in local festivals and special events, performing butoh and other arts.


Geishas play traditional instruments such as shamisen and shakuhachi. They also sing.
Guests are invited to enjoy the beauty of traditional music.

Tea Ceremony

Serving tea is one of the roles of geisha.
Maiko, in particular, are trained in the art of serving tea and show the beauty of the tea ceremony to the guests.


Geishas are expected to be sophisticated and sociable, and to communicate smoothly with guests.
They are also responsible for conversing with guests and organizing banquets.


In order to promote friendship with the guests, geishas provide traditional games (ozashiki games: omawari-san, toratora, konpirafunefune, etc.).

The appeal of Geisha tours

For foreigner, geisha tours are an excellent opportunity to understand the depth of Japanese culture.
On these tours, you can experience up-close performances by geiko and maiko, and be mesmerized by their delicate and graceful movements.
Geisha tours offer a combination of traditional geisha dance, tea ceremonies and traditional instrumental performances.
This allows visitors to enjoy the diversity of japanese arts.

Geisha districts in Kyoto


Kyoto is known for its numerous historic geisha districts.
The most famous of these are Gion and Pontocho.
These areas are lined with traditional teahouses and ryotei (traditional Japanese-style restaurants), creating an atmosphere of old Japan.
At night, geiko and maiko can be seen walking the streets.
Geiko and maiko can be seen walking the streets in the evening, a unique Kyoto tradition.

Gion is located in the Higashiyama area of Kyoto. If you want to know more about Kyoto, including other areas, please read this article, "5 must visit areas in Kyoto".


Geishas entertain guests with their elegant performance and refined demeanor.
Their daily lives are steeped in the traditions of old Japan.
They are trained in a wide variety of arts, such as dance, music, and tea ceremony, and they are expected to be beautifully dressed and to have refined conversational skills.
They are symbols of Japanese history and culture, and their arts are admired around the world.
Visitors from all over the world are exposed to these cultures.

If you want to know more about the Japanese cultural experiences you can enjoy in Kyoto, please read this article, "Kyoto's recommended cultural experiences".

What are we?

We run Ninja Experience Cafe in Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka, Japan.
Here you can immerse yourself in Japanese culture through experiencing ninja training.
Both adults and children are welcome to try their hand at defeating the ninja master inside the cafe.
The cafe is an indoor interactive zone, so it can be enjoyed even on rainy days.
If you are thinking, "I want to be a real ninja too!” If you are interested in becoming a real ninja, please visit us.
Reservations can be made here.

Sources of this information - Kyoto Geisha - Gion Corner - Geisha and Maiko
These Web sites provide in-depth information about Kyoto's geisha culture and districts.
Please use them as a reference when learning more about geisha in Kyoto.

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