The geisha is a world-famous Japanese symbol that is seldom understood outside of Japan. The geisha arts, a 250-year-old legacy, are fast fading, yet there are still sites in Japan where one may have a true geisha experience. The majority of geisha are currently found in Kyoto, Japan's old capital city, where they are referred to as geiko. However, geisha can still be spotted in specific parts of Tokyo in modern times.
If you are interested in learning about the history of Tokyo, please refer to "History of Tokyo".
Geishas are female entertainers that specialize in Japanese cultural arts such as singing, dancing, and playing traditional instruments. They are also experts of conversation and hospitality, which has led to the idea that geisha are a form of courtesan or escort in Western culture. Geisha, on the other hand, are and have always been held in great regard in Japanese society. Due to their social rank and ability as a hostess, many geisha have married strong samurai and officials in the past.
A geisha's traditional responsibilities include amusing their visitors with games, conversation, and wordplay; performing song, dance, or an instrument; and providing drinks — as well as drinking with them. Geisha are known for being able to drink the average person under the table. These kind of activities, on the other hand, are usually kept for private clients, most of whom are Japanese businesspeople.
Even if they don't speak Japanese, expats may enjoy the best of traditional geisha entertainment in a friendly atmosphere during a geisha dinner experience.
Although the number of true geisha in Tokyo is declining, geisha services can still be found in some regions.
Fukagawa is the oldest geisha district in Japan. You can contact them and they can make all the arrangements for a geisha banquet for you. Fukagawa also has fluent English speaking geisha. Enjoy a geisha meal in a beautiful wooden home modeled after traditional Kyoto-style townhouses at Ichimatsu in Asakusa. Sensoji temple, Kaminarimon gate, and the Nakamise shopping street are among the many attractions in the ancient neighborhood to visit before or after supper.
Enjoy a geisha meal in a beautiful wooden home modeled after traditional Kyoto-style townhouses at Ichimatsu in Asakusa. Sensoji temple, Kaminarimon gate, and the Nakamise shopping street are among the many attractions in the ancient neighborhood to visit before or after supper.
Another Kagurazaka establishment that specializes in supper and geisha entertainment is Kaga. Their private dining rooms and large banquet halls are ideal for everything from business dinners to special occasion dinners.
Kyorakutei, located in Nihonbashi's upscale Coredo Muromachi area, has a special event area where visitors may see a geisha performance, enjoy traditional party games, and take a souvenir photo for a reasonable price. Although dinner is not included, the activity can be paired with the rental of a traditional kimono for a truly unique experience.
Yoshinoya geisha house in the Omori Kaigan Seaside district, not to be confused with the beef bowl restaurant chain of the same name, is a site where young women have been taught in the geisha techniques for over a century. Known as the Omori hanamachi, the region was once home to hundreds of geisha. Yoshinoya specializes on the hiring of geishas for private events, but they also host public events on occasion.
One of the greatest spots to see a rare geisha sighting is in Tokyo's Kagurazaka area, which is home to a variety of enterprises offering geisha services, including Yukimoto, a ryotei restaurant specialized in traditional cuisine with geisha entertainment. If you want to hire a geisha, make a reservation ahead of time.
A geisha dinner is Japan's highest form of cultural entertainment and hospitality, and it is divided into three main courses.
The first is dinner, which is usually a kaiseki ryori meal, which is the traditional Japanese equivalent of fine dining. Kaiseki dining consists of small courses made with high-quality ingredients that are exquisitely prepared to highlight the natural flavor and seasonality of each dish.
Following dinner, you will have the opportunity to watch a song or dance performance. This may include the performance of traditional Japanese string instruments such as the shamisen and koto or taiko drums, as well as the stage performance of an elegant dance known as Nihon buyo, which is derived from Japanese theater arts such as noh.
The ozashiki asobi, or traditional party games, are the final course of a geisha dinner. The games are simple and easy to play in pairs or small groups, and they are frequently accompanied by a geisha playing the shamisen. Ozashiki asobi games are unique in that they are so old that most modern Japanese people no longer play them.
The majority of geisha encounters take place in a formal environment such as a kaiseki restaurant, banquet hall, or ryokan inn, so dress appropriately. If you're staying at a ryokan for the night, the inn may give you with a yukata to wear. Otherwise, formalwear is not essential, but you should avoid jeans and t-shirts in favor of something dressier but still comfortable enough to move around in during the games section of the evening. Also, because you'll be requested to remove your shoes before entering the Japanese-style tatami rooms, make sure your socks are clean and free of holes.
Brush up on a few dinner etiquette terms, such as "Itadakimasu" for before the meal and "Gochisou-sama deshita" for after the meal, if feasible. There's also Arigatou gozaimasu", which means thank you.
Don't be hesitant to participate in the party activities after dinner. Even for people with weak Japanese language skills, the ozashiki asobi are basic and easy to play. The geisha are the greatest experts of hospitality, and they will pleasantly guide you through the games, despite any language limitations.
Photo by SAYUKI
Even among all of Japan's unique experiences, a geisha performance is a one-of-a-kind event. If you have the opportunity to participate in this unique kind of dinner entertainment, you will be able to experience a side of traditional Japanese culture that is unavailable anywhere else in the world.
If you are interested in learning Ikebana, Japanese Calligraphy, Japanese art etc., please visit our "Japanese Culture" page and if you would like to learn about Tokyo History, please read History of Tokyo.
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