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Meet and Greet the Beautiful, Talented and Mysterious Geisha

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Made famous by the Arthur Golden book and subsequent film ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ (Mineko Iwasaki, a retired geisha he had interviewed for information while writing the book, claims the profession was incorrectly depicted by the author) their lifestyle has intrigued the public even more than before. Because of the novel/book, however, their practice is misunderstood by many not familiar with the concept. Let us briefly explain the geisha to you, and introduce a tour that focuses entirely on their practice. The geisha is practically an entertainer, who through dedicated training, is a master practitioner of traditional Japanese arts like dancing and instrument playing, using these skills to entertain clients. The geisha trainee, called a minarai, starts her discipline at a very early age, sometimes bonded to geisha houses called okiya. She will develop a close knit relationship with her geisha mentor. First she will start by watching. After a month or so, she will graduate as a maiko (this stage in her development can take 2-5 years) and follow her mentor, as well as engage in formal arts training and build social connections. The young lady may eventually become a full-fledged geisha in her early 20’s. However, she may still be obligated to her okiya, because of the debt she owes. The geisha house will have provided her with food, board, kimonos, and other tools of her trade throughout her training. Only when the debt has been paid can the geisha work independently. Even though the concept exists today, it is not as prevalent as it was in the past. This makes meeting with a maiko or a geisha somewhat difficult. With Exotissimo’s Evening with a Maiko daytrip, travelers not only get to meet a maiko and/or a gesiha, but also receive in depth information about the profession from Peter Macintosh, an expert in geisha activity who has lived in Kyoto for more than 20 years. Peter is married to an ex-geisha and is a lecturer on Geisha Studies at Kansai University. During the program, Peter will take you around Kyoto and its geisha districts. The experience concludes at private bar for drinks and an hour of private geisha/maiko entertainment. This is the perfect opportunity to learn more about their profession from the women themselves. Combine this experience with our Kyoto tour for an exceptional and memorable experience.

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