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Things to Know Before Going Geisha Hunting in Gion

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Last Updated: Jul 7, 2014

There are Geishas all over Japan. But it is Kyoto that this mystique culture began. The most popular place in Kyoto where people go to witness a Geisha is in Gion. Geishas are professional entertainers that interact with guests and sometimes perform traditional Japanese presentations. Seeing one should be included in your to-do list as you visit Japan.

But before going to Gion, here are important things you should bear in mind:

  1. Remember to respect the Geishas, they are headed to work and they are not sanctioned by the government as national mascots that you can ask to stop and take a photo with. You can take photos from the afar and don’t disturb them.
  2. 5:55 pm is the best time to go Geisha hunting, because this is the usual time that they leave for work. The most famous Geisha areas in Kyoto are Miyagawacho, Pontocho, Kamishichiken, Gion Kobu, and Gion Higashi. The last two are the best places to go to witness the Geisha.
  3. A maiko is still under training before becoming a full fledged Geiko, a Japanese term for Geisha. The difference between the two is, a maiko has flower decorations in her hair and her kimono belt stretches low almost to the floor.
  4. You can go to the Sagano bamboo forest and try looking like a Geisha.  In Gion you can get a Geisha makeover complete with a photographer taking your picture for a price range of $121 to $283.
  5. If you spot a Geisha and she stops when you ask her if you could take a picture with you and obliged, then she is definitely not a Geisha.
  6. The movie “Memoirs of a Geisha” is not the real deal. It is a misconception, and it is far from the reality of what a Geisha truly is. Hollywood.
  7. If you have $1,000 to spare, then just go ahead and book a Geisha.      

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