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The word geisha translates as Ďperson of the artsí and geisha must train for many years before they become qualified. Maiko (trainee geisha) must attend lessons in dance, music, tea ceremony and calligraphy as well as learn how to be good conversationalists in order to entertain their clients.

Traditionally, geisha were trained from childhood, leaving their homes in the countryside to live in the o-kiya in the city. However, in more recent times, girls complete their compulsory education before leaving school at fifteen to begin their training.

Most of the geisha in Japan live and work in Gion and the surrounding districts of Kyoto where they are referred to as geiko in the local dialect. It is here that you will be able to spot these graceful women as they rush between appointments in the many tea houses dotted about the back streets. These tea houses, or o-chaya in Japanese, are where the geisha entertain and perform for their clients. However, not just anyone can enter a tea house; you must have an official introduction and as is to be expected of such an exclusive service, you might have to save up for the privilege.

The role of a geisha is often misunderstood by many in the West and for this reason InsideJapan Tours has teamed up with local experts to give our clients a unique opportunity to learn a little more about this hidden world.

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Geisha Dress-up

The image of a geisha is truly iconic; the sumptuous ornate kimono, white make-up and elaborate hair ornaments all make this a truly unique style and instantly recognisable. But have you ever dreamed of yourself dressed as a geisha, strolling through the old streets of Kyoto or along the banks of the river Kamo lined with cherry blossom trees? Or perhaps taking a rickshaw round the old downtown Tokyo district of Asakusa dresse din the classic Japanese style of the shogun era? If this is something you have always wanted to do or perhaps just tickles your fancy then we are delighted to be able to arrange this for you in both Kyoto and Tokyo.

In Kyoto you will be transformed into a geisha, with full make-up, geisha wig, choice of kimono and several photo options providing a  a fantastic souvenir of your stay in Japan's ancient former capital. If you like you can also spend a couple of hours strolling the temples and gardens of the Higashiyama district in your full geisha outfit - a sure fire way to attract a lot of attention from other visiting tourists as they mistake you for the real deal!

In Tokyo we can arrange for a similar service in the city's only remaining geisha district, Asakusa. Here you'll have a choice of simply getting dressed up and having professional portrait photos taken or heading out for a one hour stroll around the area. Perhaps the most enticing option though, is to be pulled through the streets, down the narrow lanes and around Sensoji Temple in a rickshaw. Your rickshawman (or woman) will be sure to point out some of the many points of interest in this the oldest district of the city.

And gentlemen, don't think this is purely for the ladies! Check out our men's kimono dress-up experiences for that full samurai look!

Anytime! There are occassional holidays when this service is not available but if you have more than one day in Kyoto or Tokyo this service will always be available.


Geisha dress-up is available in Kyoto and Tokyo. In Kyoto the studio is located in the Higashiyama area of the city which is in the hills on the east side of town. The area is home to some of the finest temples and gardens in Kyoto and if you choose the package with walk around included you can visit some of these in your full gear.

In Tokyo the studio is located in the old downtown area of Asakusa, the most traditional area of the capital and the perfect place to be dressed in kimono and head out for a stroll. Asakusa can be reached easily by public transport from any area of Tokyo.

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Inside Japan Tours - Independent British Travel Awards 2011 - Best Tour Operator To East and Central Asia
The Guardian, The Observer - Travel Awards 2010 Winner - Best tour operator (small)
Inside Japan Tours - Silver at the British Travel Awards 2009