Gion, Kyoto, is famously know as the geisha district. We spent two glorious evenings wandering around this area on the lookout for geisha. This is really one of the only area’s left in Japan to see working geisha, and even then, it is still not very common. Geisha are hostesses who study and perfect Japanese performing arts, including; music, dance, tea ceremonies etc. (They are not prostitutes, as some commonly think.)
Pontocho Alley, was a long, narrow street full of restaurants and bars that backed up to the river. This street had such a great atmosphere for exploring. I loved all of the hanging lanterns. Many geisha are said to entertain here, so we were hopeful to catch a glimpse, but no dice.
I had read that the best place to spot geisha (or more commonly, maiko, an apprentice geisha) was in front of this historic building that still serves today as a geisha training school and teahouse. We waited and waited with no luck, then finally decided to do some more wandering. Ella was determined to find geisha!
Then all of a sudden, we began to see a crowd forming outside of one particular teahouse. We joined the group to get a closer look. Each time they opened the curtain we could see two gorgeous geisha at the entrance. (Notice Ella peeking right through the curtains, she was small enough to get really close without anyone really noticing. She stood their watching for quite sometime, and the geisha even waved to her.)
This one should be framed!
They saw SIX geisha total that day! Sigh. Some people have all the luck. We’ll be back!