In Search of the Geisha in Kyoto

One of the most iconic symbols of Japanese culture are the Geisha girls.

1.10 Oct 2016 - Geisha
(Photo Credit: Flickr)

Geisha are traditionally high-class entertainers. Working in tea houses, they entertain guests with performances in dance, music and art. Controversially, they also had a reputation for prostitution, however this was not the case; traditional Geisha were expected to be single women and those who married were expected to retire. Some would have a ‘Danna’ - a wealthy man - who would support the Geisha’s often exorbitant living costs.

1.10 Oct 2016 - Geisha2
(Source: Wikipedia)

There are still places in Japan where you can visit Geisha tea houses but the best place is for the most authentic experience is Kyoto, the traditional home of the Geisha. During their training period Geisha are known as Maiko and they live in the tea house. Once they have finished their training, the qualified ‘Geiko’ are free to live elsewhere and open their own tea houses should they wish. A Kyoto Geisha takes 5 years to complete the strict training to become a fully fledged Geiko. In other parts of the country the training is more relaxed. 

1.10 Oct 2016 - Tea house
(Photo credit: Flickr)

There are a variety of ways you can experience Geisha in Kyoto. If you are not on a budget, one of the best ways is to hire your own Geisha; you can book an evening with both a Geiko and a Maiko, where you can talk over dinner (tour companies can book translators) and watch them entertain though traditional dance and music. This will set you back around £700 for 2 people.

1.10 Oct 2016 - Dancing Geisha

If you don’t have quite that much to spend, you can go on a group tour to a tea house. This is not that dissimilar to the private experience, although you get less time to spend personally conversing with the Geisha. The Geisha will entertain guests by playing drinking games, playing traditional music on the Shamisen (an instrument that resembles a small guitar) and dancing.

1.10 Oct 2016 - Shamisen
(Photo credit: Travel Health Beauty)

There are a number of places in Kyoto where you can pay to dress up and have your hair and makeup styled like a Geisha. These experiences include photo opportunities in various scenic spots across the city. Be prepared to attract the attention of plenty of other tourists, though!

Health in Kyoto

Japan is generally very safe for most travelers, however it is good to make sure that all your basic childhood vaccinations are up to date before travel.  

The change in food and water may have an effect on visitors who are prone to stomach bugs.  You can pick up a Tummy Kit in one of our 8 London clinics to ensure you are fully prepared before your trip. These kits contain all the medication you need to treat mild to moderate bugs.

There is a small risk of Japanese Encephalitis, mainly in rural areas. The worst affected regions are rice fields. Anyone visiting these areas for extended periods may wish to consider the Japanese Encephalitis course of vaccines, which consists of 2 doses that need to be given at least 7 days apart. It is also a good idea to double protect yourself by using a strong DEET-based mosquito repellent at the same time. We sell a variety of these in any clinic and you can even use these on children.

Book online or give us a call now to book your free consultation with one of our specialist travel nurses!

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