Photography Travel Tip: The Best Place to Find Geisha or Maiko in Kyotobabibubebo | 21 04 2007
First of all, if you do not know what geisha or maiko are, check out my previous post about geisha and maiko.
One of the most popular questions I get from tourists and photographers alike is, “Where can I see geisha?” There are two very big misconceptions about geisha, the first being that geisha are prostitutes and second is that geisha can be seen commonly all over Japan. Both of these are false. Actually, it is very rare that you will see a geisha in Japan. That being said I am going to give you the easiest way to find them; HOWEVER, even if you take my advice, there is still a chance you might be unsuccessful! I am not guaranteeing you will see geisha or maiko here, but from my experience, the odds are pretty good!
Details after the jump!
First thing you need to do is go to Kyoto. Almost all of the geisha that are left in Japan are in Kyoto. Second, you need to head to Gion district of Kyoto in the late afternoon or early evening (say 4:30pm to 6pm). The third thing and most important thing you need is patience! Many people will walk around Gion in hopes of catching a glimpse of a Geisha. If you do this and are successful, you are very lucky! I have done about 9 times and have only seen geisha twice. Instead my suggestion is to head to one place (the photo below) and just wait in this area.
I waited here 2 different days, from about 430-6pm and both days I saw multiple geisha and maiko. I talked to another person who was there and told me that this was her 4th time waiting there and 3 of the days she say geisha or maiko. I like these odds a lot better than my previous 2 for 9 that I had wondering around Gion! I was told that this place is actually one of the oldest and most famous geisha schools and back in the day, all the high up politicians, samurai and even shogunate used to frequent this place. Not only is it famous, but it is close to the main road so many geisha and maiko walk passed here to go to their jobs or to catch a taxi to get to their jobs. Below is a map showing where this place is. If you have some success stories or other tips please leave a comment! Click the map to open up a interactive one in a new window.
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Fushimi Inari Shrine