October 31, 2013

Kyoto : Geisha in Gion

The moment I reached Kyoto, I was actually looking forward to visit Gion. The area is Kyoto's most famous geisha district. I've been wanting to see one ever since I watched Memoirs of a Geisha a few years ago.

Gion itself is a must visit place in Kyoto. It is a lively area filled with shops, restaurants and teahouses, though dining there usually are expensive. -_-

After stopping at Gion bus stop, I walked towards Shijo Avenue. There is a small street off Shijo Avenue, the Hanami-koji street, which is the most popular area of Gion. The street and its side alleys are lined with machiya townhouses of which now function as restaurants.

I was walking along the street, hoping to catch a glimpse of a geisha or maiko but sadly, I saw none. Hmm.. so unlucky, I thought. But I continued walking, admiring the traditional wooden machiya houses. And that's when I came across an elderly couple standing near an alley, as if waiting for something to appear, both ready with their DSLRs.

*busybody mode on*

Like a curious cat, I walked nearer and tried to see what were they waiting for. I saw nothing. Still curious and without shame, I went to the oba-san and oji-san, and asked them what's going on. hahaha... I spoke a little Japanese with them, and I guessed the charm worked as we immediately clicked. Terus gang ok! :p 

Not long after, a maiko appeared! Well actually I wasn't sure whether she was a maiko or a geisha. Not sure how to differentiate them. A maiko basically is a geisha apprentice. I assumed she's a maiko cos she looked young. She's sooo pretty! So happy cos I got to take a photo with her. From unlucky, I became soo lucky!

Then we went back to the street. A few more maikos or geishas appeared by this time, which also meant more and more visitors crowding in front of the teahouses on the street, ready to click their cameras. But please behave yourselves while taking their pictures. I saw a group of students from our neighboring countries (I guess so from their accents). They were so noisy, cheering every time a maiko or geisha passed by.

Not everyone can afford being entertained by a maiko or geisha while dining at a teahouse. I saw only big cars stopping in front of the teahouses. But fret not, you can experience the cultural show held every day at Gion Corner at the end of the street. The show includes short performance of a tea ceremony, flower arrangement, Japanese harp, comic play, puppet play and dances performed by real maiko.

Saw this cute puppy in front of Gion Corner.

The thing I hate about travelling in winter is the shorter day time. So I left the street after it got dark at around 5.30 pm.

Anyway, here's my tips for you. If you wanna spot a maiko or a geisha in Gion, head to Hanami-koji street in the late afternoon or early evening - I went there at around 4 pm. Then patiently wait for them to appear. haha.. Not much help eh? Ok la.. easy way is to wait in front of below teahouse. It's not guaranteed but at least I saw a few here.

I walked back to Shijo Avenue before leaving Gion.

The street is lined with stores selling local products including sweets and crafts, and also all kinds of souvenirs. It was interesting to browse through all those stuffs but I didn't buy any since it was only my first day in Kyoto. Many more places to explore!


Qashmere said...

wah bestnya berjalan

rara said...

@Akmar: thanks to AirAsia - everyone can fly. hehe..