Ever wondered how long it takes a geisha to apply her make-up? ….. Where does she have her fabulous kimonos cleaned? …. And what does she carry in that little bag?
Some time ago we were fortunate enough to buy a house in Kyoto, just a short stroll from the cities oldest Geisha district, “Kamishichiken”. Our traditional “Machiya” house eventually became known as Jam Jar Lounge & Inn.
During our early days in this neighbourhood I would watch in wonder as the local Geiko & Maiko visited different tea houses, alighted from taxis, or just floated past our house in a flurry of colourful kimono, hurrying to the next appointment. Like most people, I was totally fascinated, and wanted to know every little detail of their secret and often misunderstood lives.
I finally got my chance when one such Geiko, (the traditional Kyoto name for Geisha), visited my café for lunch. After several visits I built up the courage to ask her the questions which had been running through my mind for so long. To my delight I found that she was only too happy to indulge me, answering every question with complete honesty and easy humour. As a result we soon become friends. My fascination never diminished, and with her co-operation we both decided to invite other like-minded visitors to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity to delve into her unique and mysterious world.
Even for Japanese locals who have spent their whole lives in Kyoto, being in the presence of a working Geiko is such a rare and beautiful thing. Having your very own Geiko accompany you through her world is not only a great honour, but without doubt, THE quintessential Kyoto experience.
Join us for what will surely be the highlight of your journey to Japan, and together we can put all of your questions to rest.
DANNY MATHESON & KAZUO IKEDA
(Owner/Operators – Jam Jar Lounge & Inn)
- Up close & personal audience with a working Geisha
- Question & Answer session with Japanese translator
- Photo opportunity with Geisha
- Guided tour through Kyoto’s oldest Geisha district (w/ Geisha)
- Guided tour of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine
- Hands on Matcha Tea experience
- Afternoon tea w/ Geisha, including locally made Japanese sweets
Visitors who want an up-close and personal experience with their very own Geisha.
WHAT WE WILL DO
Whether you are Japanese or a foreign visitor, it’s almost impossible to experience genuine “Geisha” entertainment in Kyoto without a personal introduction from an existing client of an established Geisha house, (known as an Oki-ya).
Kyoto is the heart of Japan’s geisha world. In Kyoto, however, fully-fledged geisha are known by their traditional name of Geiko – (pronounced “gay-ko”). A Geiko is a woman who is educated in traditional Japanese arts, such as music, dancing, singing, and conversation. The word Geisha literally means “a woman of the arts”.
Most foreign visitors to Japan experience Geiko or Maiko, (an apprentice), in one of two ways. Either by waiting in known “Geisha spots” hoping for a glimpse as she scurries into a teahouse, or more often than not, through organised tours which consist of a dinner show, watching a dance performance before sneaking a quick photo along with 100 other people on the same tour. Our experience is different. Why?
Firstly our tour is an up-close and personal experience (maximum 6 guests). Not only do we have the rare opportunity to interact with a genuine Geiko for 3 full hours, but we also get to experience a small part of her everyday life as she walks with us through her own working district, visiting a local Shinto shrine along the way. As an added bonus she shares with us the secrets of making the perfect bowl of matcha tea in a 115 year old traditional Kyoto townhouse.
Our tour starts with formal introductions at Jam Jar Lounge & Inn. After a brief history of Kyoto’s Geiko traditions, we will have time to ask questions about her lifestyle, daily activities & what it means to carry on such a revered and ancient tradition.
After question time we will make our way, (accompanied by our Geiko and English speaking guide), to a local landmark, the famous Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. Here we will learn Japanese shrine etiquette first hand before touring this impressive sight, stopping for multiple photo opportunities.
From here we exit through the East gate and find ourselves in another world. This is Kamishichiken. And this is the world of our Geiko, a world where she spends the majority of her working life. Apart from being a beautifully preserved part of the city, it also has a fascinating past, bought to life by a guide who even today plays an integral part of it’s ongoing history.
Of course tea making is an integral part of a Geiko’s skill set, so after even more photo opportunities, we will make our way back to Jam Jar Lounge & Inn to try our hand at making matcha tea. With the guidance of our Geiko, we will be encouraged to participate in making this centuries old recipe, before enjoying our handy work with a traditional Japanese (wagashi) sweet.
The last part of our tour is dedicated to relaxing with newly made friends, sipping our matcha tea and delving even deeper into the fascinating life of being a Geiko in Kyoto.
- English speaking guide
- Small Group (Min 2/Max 6 + Guide)
- Formal introduction to Geiko
- Tour of Kamishichiken with Geiko
- Tour of Kitano Tenmangu Shrine with Geiko
- Match Tea demonstration by Geiko
- Afternoon Tea
- Question & Answer time with Geiko (translated)
- Transport to/from meeting point for guests not staying at Jam Jar Lounge & Inn
- Additional food & beverage not outlined above
- Souvenirs and items of a personal nature
- Tips & Gratuities
KNOW BEFORE YOU GO
A moderate amount of walking will be involved, (approximately 2,000 steps). Although we will be walking at a leisurely pace, there are a limited number of steps leading up to the Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. A moderate fitness level would be required eg: (6 on a scale of 10). Please ensure you have sturdy comfortable walking shoes & a camera.
TOUR STARTING & ENDING POINT
Jam Jar Lounge & Inn
- As availability will depend solely on the schedule of our resident "Geiko", please advise your proposed dates via this website. We will endevour to accommodate your request as soon as possible.
- Your booking request, (if available), will be confirmed within 48 hours of us recieving your original request.
- Thank you.
- Minimum x 2 / Maximum x 6 guests
- Cancellations recieved up to 14 x days in advance of the scheduled "Experience" date, will incurr no cancellation fee - (Fully refundable).
- Cancellations recieved between 13 and 8 days of the scheduled "Experience" date, will incurr a 50% cancellation fee.
- Cancellations recieved within 7 days of the scheduled "Experience" date, will incurr a 100% cancellation fee - (Non-refundable)
- In some rare cases, the tour may be cancelled due to weather or other circumstances beyond our control. In the unlikely event that the tour is cancelled by us, you may choose between a rescheduling of the tour, a full refund of all monies paid OR a credit towards an alternative tour. If you choose to accept a credit, the difference in the cost of the alternative tour will be refunded or paid by you as applicable.
AN INTIMATE AFTERNOON WITH GEIKO TOUR
12:00pm – 3:00pm (3 x hours)
Minimum x 1 / Maximum x 6 guests
Price is inclusive of all taxes & service charges. No more to pay!