Geiko and Maiko, or apprentice Geisha, are female entertainers who wear elegant and intricate traditional dress. They entertain at elite ocha-ya, or "teahouses", where they sing, dance, and play traditional instruments to entertain their patrons.
Geiko and Maiko entertain in five small districts in Kyoto called "Kagai," which literally means "Flower Town." The kagai areas of Kyoto are Kamishichiken, Pontocho, Miyagawacho, Gion-higashi and Gion-kobu. These areas are also where Maiko and Geisha lead their daily lives and are among the most popular places in Kyoto for sightseeing in the evening.
Only the wealthy and influential are granted access the ocha-ya of Flower Town, but ochaya-asobi, or "teahouse play," with Geisha and Maiko can be experienced at selected ryokan and hotels. This teahouse play consists of a combination of song, dance, and games.
The Miyako Odori dance festival provides additional opportunities to see Geisha and Maiko. No trip to Kyoto during April would be complete without being in the audience. The most affordable tickets to these dances, unreserved seating on tatami mats, cost about ¥1900. Better seats go for between ¥3000 and ¥3800. Spending an extra ¥500 allows participation in a short tea ceremony. The dances are repeated daily at 12:30, 14:00, 15:30, and 16:50.
The similar Kamogawa Odori dance festival takes place from May 1st through the 24th and again from October 15 through November 7th at Kaburenjo Theater. Performances are three times a day at 12:30, 14:20, and 16:10. Standard ticket prices range from ¥2000 to ¥3800. Tickets that allow participation in a brief tea ceremony cost ¥4300.
The Gion Corner cultural center features a range of displays of traditional performing arts, including Maiko performing "Kyomai", a traditional Kyoto dance. Entrance is ¥2800.
Please respect the Maikos' privacy, and do not follow them in the streets or touch their kimonos. Thank you for respecting the Japanese culture, please enjoy your stay.
You can catch sight of Maiko (apprentice Geisha) and Geiko (Geisha) in traditional kimono walking through the streets of Gion, one of the main downtown districts in Kyoto. This area extends from Sanjo and Gojo streets in the north and south to Higashiyama and Kawabata streets to the east and west.
In the Edo Period "ochaya" (Geisha houses) went up in this area. The part of Gion on the south side of Shijo-dori Street retains its old-fashioned tranquil charm.
Address: Gion, Higashiyama-ku
Access: Keihan Railway Shijo Station, Hankyu Railway Kawaramachi Station, or City Bus Stop Gion