The living embodiment of Japan's traditional and cultural heritage.
For many people the quintessential image of Japan is a graceful geisha in an exquisite kimono darting through a sliding screen door into a traditional teahouse. It's a scene that embodies both the geisha's beauty and mystery, as the geisha and their maiko apprentices move almost in secret through a world largely hidden behind closed doors.
Often misunderstood in the West, geisha are essentially artists: highly skilled in traditional arts such as fan dancing and shamisen playing, and masters of wordplay and social etiquette. Although geisha numbers have dropped dramatically since their heyday in the 1920s, in today's Japan, they are also the caretakers of these traditions making sure time-honoured Japanese arts and crafts are not lost.
The majority of geisha live and work in Kyoto and are known as geiko in the local dialect. Gion is Kyoto's most famous geisha district with a large concentration of ochaya tea houses where the geiko entertain guests most evenings. Not just anyone can enter an ochaya however; in traditional Japanese society, hierarchy and social connections are everything and most Japanese will never have the honour of an official invitation.
Fortunately InsideJapan have many strong connections in Kyoto and so we are able to offer our clients several unique opportunities to uncover the mysteries of geisha.
Asakusa geisha dress-up
Get the geisha or samurai look in Tokyo's historic Asakusa district.
Private audience with a maiko
InsideJapan are proud to offer an exclusive, private meeting with a Kyoto maiko.
Japanese beer garden & maiko experience
Meet a maiko over dinner in one of Kyoto's best rooftop beer gardens.
Gion walking tour at dusk
Gion comes alive as night falls and the geisha go out to entertain at tea house parties.
Become a maiko yourself with a wonderful makeover including white make-up, a black wig and a beautiful kimono.
Geisha dance performances
Take a seat for the annual geisha dance shows in Kyoto.
We'll grant you exclusive access to photograph a bona fide geisha on location in Kyoto.