Kyoto’s Gion district, a 15-minute drive from Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto, is one of the few areas where spotting these women in their exquisite kimonos is less of a rarity. You might see them walking in pairs between the okiya (geisha house) and the ochaya (tea house) to preside over a dinner meeting.

Delight your senses with a Kyoto-style kaiseki dinner sampling a multitude of small dishes highlighting the season’s best ingredients. As you enjoy your meal, Geiko and Maiko host you with their best performances, some of which accompanied by a shamisen playing traditional music. Fun ensues with the rest of the evening dedicated to old drinking games and private conversations with both Geiko and Maiko. Ozashiki Asobi is a definite must when visiting Kyoto!

The enigmatic charm of Geishas, or Geiko and Maiko as they are called in Kyoto, is known the around the world, but a first-hand experience is elusive to most. Enjoy a memorable evening of traditional entertainment with Geiko and Maiko in nearby Hanamachi, “flower towns,” in the city.

Part diplomat, part entertainer, part cultural preservationist, the geiko (the maiko is her apprentice) is the product of up to five years of training. “Geisha” translates best as “performing artist,” and her studies cover etiquette, all forms of Japanese music, dance, games, flower arranging, the tea ceremony, and the fine art of conversation. In short, she is the perfect hostess.

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How can you tell a geiko from a maiko? Look for subtle differences in attire, from head to toe. Here are a few.

First, the geiko will be wearing a stylized wig, while the maikowears her own long hair, elaborately dressed with decorative pins.

Next, look at the neckline of her kimono. A geiko’s under-collar is pure white, while a maiko’s will be red, either plain or patterned.

Another difference is in the obi, or the sash around her waist. The ends draping behind the geiko’s obi will be shorter than those of her apprentice – as will the height of the wooden shoes she wears.

It’s still possible to experience dinner with a geiko, but it requires an introduction from a trusted source. Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto would be pleased to make arrangements.

And, if you do happen to meet a geiko or maiko in the street, please be as gracious as she would be.

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