Monday, May 5, 2014

Gion Night Tour

Current City:  Kyoto

We just returned from our evening walking tour of Gion!  This was my HIGH PRIORITY stop for visiting Kyoto.  Gion is all about Geiko (Geisha) and Maiko culture.  

Some interesting things that I learned from the tour:

1.  There is a shrine dedicated to song and dance in Gion district.  Our guide told us that Maiko and Geiko would go here to pray for good performances.

2.  The long black plaque on the right of the picture below indicates this is a Maiko and Geiko "party house."  The other plaques, our guide said, look beautiful for tourists, but it is the regulation utilities plaques!

3.  Here is a Maiko and Geiko boarding house entryway.  The names of the Maiko and Geiko are posted on these wooden blocks above the entrance.

4.  On some doorways, we saw these mounds of salt.  These are meant to ward off bad luck and welcome good luck.

5.  Here is a board of one of the training schools.  It lists the different classes available for Maiko to take to learn how to become a Geiko.  Our guide also told us that Geiko take classes continually, as well.  There are lessons on a variety of songs and dances.  The board also lists a number of the teachers who give those lessons.

6.  Our guide told us, when we see caters on bikes, they will most likely be dropping off food for a Geiko party.  So, if you wanted to spot a Geiko, just follow the caterers.

7.  Three-leaf Clover taxis are know for transporting Maiko and Geiko around the city.  So, if you spot this taxi, our guide said, "You may catch a glimpse of a Geiko."

8.  Our guide said that girls nowadays think Geiko are like rockstars.  She said that they admire them so much, which is what brings a lot of girls to try out to become Maiko.  She said that only a few can make it through the rigorous training program.

My attempt to catch a Maiko on camera!
9.  Geiko have obis that are shorter.  Maiko have obis that are longer (like the Maiko that I tried to photograph above).

I have nine things to share, which seems a bit odd.  Usually ten items would seem fitting.  So, as my last item, with no real relation to the Geiko or Maiko of the Gion district tour:

10.  I am not sure if it is the Gion district or Kyoto, but this area was once famous for its dumplings.  And you can see this reflected in the lanterns that hang around the city.  They have a line of round dumplings ringing around the middle of the lanterns. 

If anyone is in the Gion district, you SHOULD check out the night tour.  It is really quite interesting.