Experience Geisha lifestyle: 4 recommended studios in Kyoto

  • When we think about Japan one of the images that will come to our minds, is most likely Geisha. They are masters in the art of entertainment. As an icon of ancient and modern Japan, Geisha is one of the most exotic and unique figures, not only to foreigners, but also to many Japanese as well. Moreover, “Geishas” survived through the centuries as a female job and/or artistic lifestyle and transit the lines between fantasy and reality. What make them so fascinating and distinguishing from common people?

    The number of Geisha decreased significantly. Before the Second World War, their number was estimated at around 80,000, but nowadays it may only be around 1,000, according to some statistics. There are two main reasons for this decline. First, the incidents during the war itself that forced people to close the teahouses and restaurants by requiring more workers in farming field. Second, it was drove by the process of modernization. It is believed the industrialization was most responsible for it. With the new job opportunities, most of woman switched their lifestyle, and being a Geisha was no longer a unique destiny for talented Japanese women.
    As a consequence, the tradition was falling apart and getting weaker and weaker. In order to preserve and revive the values of old Japan, retired Geisha and lovers of Japanese culture acted together with the government and created an impressive project which the purpose to give Geisha experience to everyone who wishes it. In Kyoto, this project is an example of success. Here, there are five places where tourists and Japanese can dress up like as Geisha, take pictures and take a walk in beautiful gardens. They offer several plans with cost varying from 6,500 to up 24,000 yen. Let’s check them out!

    Where to dress up as Geisha?

    1. Maica


    The shop is located near Kyoto Station. Maica has 400 kimonos, and you can choose which one you want to wear.

    Access: a three-minute walk from the station “Gion-Shijo,” on Keihan line or a five-minute walk from the station “Shijo-Kawaramachi,” on Hankyu line

    2. Shiki Head Shop

    The main office is located near Kiyomizu Temple. After being transformed into a maiko, you can go for a walk around Kodaiji Temple, Nene Road, Sannen-zaka, Ninen-zaka, Yasaka Shrine, and Chion-in Temple. Shiki has 200 kimonos, and you can choose which one you want to wear.

    Shiki website

    3. Shiki Sakura Branch

    The first branch is located in Gion. You can take a walk around Kiyomizu Temple, Yasaka Shrine, Maruyama Park, Sanjusangen-do, and Kenninji Temple. Sakura has 150 kimonos, and you can choose which one you want to wear.

    Access: the shop is in front of the city bus stop “Kiyomizu-Michi”
    E-mail and HP are the same as the main shop

    4. Maikozaka


    This one is located next to Kiyomizutera.

    Access: a five-minute walk from the city bus stop “Gojo-Zaka”
    Maikozaka website *Automatic translation

    Some of these stores also offer the traditional male and other kinds of costumes, such as samurai, ronin and etc.

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