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  • Shona McCarthy

Kanazawa: Geisha History Town

Updated: Mar 16


(Image borrowed from tripadvisor.jp, 2021.)

The things I had learned of Akita Maiko and Sakata Maiko made me curious about what other regional Geisha could be found throughout Japan. What I learned is that while Kyoto and Tokyo might be the best cities to visit for seeing live (if extant) Geisha culture, Kanazawa might be the best place in all of Japan to experience Geisha history. As of this post, most of these locations are close and activities halted due to Covid-19. So it would pay to look for updates as time goes by.


Reasons To See Kanazawa


Away from the Geisha themselves, there are many good reasons to visit Kanazawa. They have their own local forms of kimono dying, their own types of cuisine and many different cultural activities that will appeal to a wide range of tastes.


You can see for yourself on their official tourism website. Also, here is a video showing 5 things good to see in Kanazawa!

Accommodations


(Image borrowed from tripadvisor.jp, 2021.)


While you can use AirBNB and standard hotel websites to find places to stay in Kanazawa, if you are wanting to feel closer to Geisha, there is one location in particular you'll want to consider Yogetsu. The name might not sound exciting, but the building was once a Geisha house, where many true Geisha once lived. Eventually it was purchased by a couple who converted it into a ryokan, or traditional Japanese accommodation. When I searched online for Yogetsu, I found that my search engine wanted to show me "Yougetsu", another ryokan in a completely different region of Japan. So, if you do search this place out, you want to be careful that you are looking in the right place.


The interior of this hotel is wonderfully preserved in the traditional Japanese style, so it is easy to feel that Geisha once lived there.


Entertainment, Education and Food with Geisha! Yes! In Kanazawa, if you wish to watch Geisha perform in person, just a few meters away from you, eat with them, play games with them, you can do this here!

As you can see in the footage, the setting is not perfectly traditional, as you sit at raised chairs and tables, rather than the traditional floor-seated position for this experience. However, the "classroom" style seating is no mistake. Part of your experience that evening, besides eating and seeing the Geisha perform, is to learn how to perform with them! You are also given a tour of the building, the historic Kanazawa House, which was once a textile processing company. You will need to find 5-14 others who will do this experience with you, however, which can be difficult to do. Here is the link where you can examine the official booking details. Tatami Experience With Geisha!


(Image borrowed from k-jj.kanazawa-kankoukyoukai.or.jp, 2021)


A more affordable and traditional option would be to see Geisha perform in one of the official teahouses of Kanazawa. Geisha will dance and perform traditional taiko drumming while guests sit on authentic tatami mats. Then the geisha will show guests how to play the drum. Bookings essential. Any number up to 15 may apply. A Geisha Tours You Around The Nishi Chaya District


(Image borrowed from k-jj.kanazawa-kankoukyoukai.or.jp, 2021.)

The Nishi Chaya forms one of the multiple Geisha districts of Kanazawa. As such, it is dotted with historical and wonderfully preserved buildings relating to that time. For a small fee, a Maiko Geisha will tour you around this part of town, showing you all of the best landmarks and telling you a fun story. There are three different routs you can take when you book.


Extended Tatami Experience With Geisha

(Image borrowed from k-jj.kanazawa-kankoukyoukai.or.jp, 2021.)

Watch Geisha dance and play shamisen. Eat a meal while the serve you. Then, afterwards, play with them in a tatami room in one of Kanazawa's most historical buildings! Up to 10 people at a time can book. Pricey but worth it.


A Geisha Will Guide You Around A Real Samurai House!

(Image borrowed from japancheapo.com, 2021.)

For no charge you can be toured around an old Samurai residence by a geisha. For free! Yes! That is real! It even has wifi and a toilet open to the public! Besides all the historic artefacts and beautiful architecture you can see! And since it is in a district full of old Samurai houses, there will be plenty for you to see in the area! A Geisha Tours You Around The Higashi Chaya District


(Image borrowed from k-jj.kanazawa-kankoukyoukai.or.jp, 2021.)


For free a geisha can tour you around the Higashi Chaya district, one of Kanazawa's main Geisha districts! Rich with history, culture, cuisine and shopping, it's sure to be a memorable visit, especially for taking beautiful photographs and experiencing authentic Japanese culture.


The Kazuemachi Chaya District


(Image borrowed from k-jj.kanazawa-kankoukyoukai.or.jp, 2021.)


Wander these narrow streets at dusk and it is said you will hear Geisha at work, singing and playing instruments. More history and you can wander around the streets all you want.


For all these reasons, I think Kanazawa might be the best place to experience Geisha history, and for encountering Geisha easily for extended periods. However, I have it in mind to look into other regional Geisha districts in the future, to see whether or not I can identify a better region.


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