Stalking Geisha in Kyoto

I’ve wanted to visit Kyoto for years, just to see real-life geisha. We started the day on a Lonely Planet recommended walking route of Southern Higashiyama, which started at Kiyomizu-dera (an incredible temple), and then north through a beautiful park, another amazing temple and then ended up in Gion – one of the main geisha districts.

We wandered around Gion Corner and marvelled at the authentic buildings that still house tea houses and boarding houses for geisha today before joining a geisha walking tour. The guy’s website sounded … interesting … I though he sounded like an arrogant jerk and Alec thought he sounded like a perv, so it was a relief to see about 10 other people turn up for the tour – all normal looking travellers like ourselves.

The tour was very interesting. It went for about two hours and Peter gave us basically a history lesson of the area and the people who lived there. He explained the workings of geisha culture and the meanings of the symbols and so on around the geisha district. We saw a few geisha hurrying home from their performances to get ready for the evening ahead. They may be small but they can really quickly on their high shoes! I was struggling to get a picture of them – most of my photos are from behind as they bolted into the alleyways.

Kyoto is just amazing. So beautiful, especially right now with the cherry blossoms in full bloom. We’re right on the edge of the season. We were told that they’re one rain storm away from losing the blossoms completely.

One more note on how amazing the people here are. I left my shopping in a restaurant and was walking about a block away when I see this tiny little lady risking life and limb dashing across a main road to return my shopping to me … similarly, Alec left his train ticket in the machine in the subway and a business man dashed after us to return the ticket. Amazing. I love Japan.

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