One of my favourite experiences in Japan was becoming a Geisha for the day in Kyoto. Now, before I progress further some of you are probably wondering what is a geisha?
The art of being a geisha is an ancient Japanese tradition and culture which derives from the Gion district. Whilst Geisha were originally men, it came to light for the women in the late 17th century. Geisha are trained in performing Japanese tea ceremonies, dances, singing and art. To become a geisha you must first become a maiko (apprentice).
When you are a maiko it takes years of practice to achieve the status of a geisha. Before they reach this status they live under an Okiya (boarding house) where there is a head figure (usually a retired geisha) overseeing to their training. Then, once they earn the honour of becoming fully-fledged geisha they have to pay back the Okiya for their training.
It is believed geishas can make up to $200-$500 per guest per party. Some people also tend to refer to them as glorified prostitutes. This is not the case with geishas. During the time of World War II, there were many prostitutes who dressed up as a geisha to earn more business with American soldiers. Hence, why many men returned home from the war claiming they slept with one. However, to be a geisha is a true sign of beauty the ultimate ambassador of elegance and perfection.
Therefore, if you’re visiting to become a geisha for the day in Kyoto is a must.
Where can I become a geisha for the day in Kyoto?
There are several places in Gion where you can dress up as a Geisha for the day and prices. If you’re interested in becoming a geisha for the day in Kyoto I’d recommend you check the following destinations out:
Kyoto Maiko was actually the place I dressed up as a geisha. What’s beautiful about it is that they take you through all of the transitions.
First, you go for makeup. Whilst this happens it’s a patient process as they need to paint your face white and do your makeup specific to your facial requirements. As well as getting your wig fitted. Second, they send you for your outfit. Here is where you’re lucky as you get to pick from a range of gorgeous silk kimonos to wear. Next, you get dressed (be warned this can take some time as there’s a lot of layers!) It took me a good 10-15 minutes to be dressed. Following this, you take part in a photography session with a professional photographer. Inside there are props which you can use too. To end the session they give you a souvenir which is a photo album or if you wish to have on other formats there are different pricing options.
At Maiko Henshin you can do the same and have a full-on photoshoot. However, they have different packages ranging from 30,000 to 80,000 yen. Similarly, if you’re not wanting to dress up as a geisha there are other suitable alternative options.
Yumeyakta is a destination where you can rent a kimono for the day and. walk around in Kyoto with it on. They also offer other experiences.
Whilst there are many to visit in Kyoto the above destinations are three I’d recommend. If you’re planning on visiting Kyoto I’d say it’s a must to dress up as a geisha. Likewise, if you’re lucky like I was you may well see one roaming around Gion. However to feel the history is best to embrace it and get a makeover as marvellous geisha.