Where To Watch A Geisha Show In Kyoto

geisha shows in kyoto
Melanie
Melanie 
Updated

Kyoto takes pride in its cultural attractions, and at the heart of it is are its geisha. While there are many women who walk around wearing the traditional attire of geisha, there are actually only a handful who are trained in the art of professional hosting and entertainment in the traditional Japanese style. In Kyoto, full-fledged geisha are called geiko, while trainees are known as maiko, and they are mainly concentrated in five kagai - or geisha districts - across the city. Even then, entry to performances and private dinners and tea ceremonies are limited and are often exclusive. However, there are some that are open so that the public can see the famous geisha show off their art. Check out this list of places if you’re interested in knowing where to watch a geisha show in Kyoto.

1. Witness the buyo dance at the Maiko Theater (Starts from 7,300 USD)

Editor’s note: establishment is permanently closed

This option provides you with the opportunity to catch maiko perform the traditional buyo dance, a traditional Japanese dance that is said to have roots right in Kyoto. For an additional fee, you can also enjoy tea and sweets served by maiko, a framed photo, and special merchandise from the theater on top of having seats to the buyo dance.

Maiko Theater

Address: 302-2 Daikokucho, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0832, Japan

Website:

Price: Starts from 7,300 USD

2. Attend a Maiko show at the Kansai Tourist Information Center At Kyoto Tower

Miyako Odori; cherry dance in Kyoto
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Conveyor belt sushi used under CC BY 2.0

The Kansai Tourist Information Center At Kyoto Tower regularly hosts 45 minutes-long maiko shows that include dance performances and photo opportunities with the performers. The audience will also be given the chance to ask questions to the maiko to get to know more about their culture and way of life.

Kansai Tourist Information Center At Kyoto Tower

Address: Japan, 〒600-8216 Kyoto, Shimogyo Ward, Higashishiokojicho, 721-1 京都タワービル 3階

Website: Kansai Tourist Information Center At Kyoto Tower

Price: 26.50 USD

3. Miyako Odori at Gion Kōbu Kaburen-jo Theatre

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Posted by on Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The cherry blossom season is considered as a special period in Japan, and one of the ways in which this is celebrated is through the Miyako Odori, where geiko and maiko of the Gion district come together to perform their cherry blossom dance, distinguishable because of its delicate movements.

Their dances and songs are often accompanied by musicians, who also appear in the stage, behind the geisha. The performances are held at at the Gion Kōbu Kaburenjo theatre, which is close to the Yasaka Shrine.

Miyako Odori at Gion Kobu Kaburenjo

Address: 198 Nakano-cho, Shijo-dori, Yamato-oji nishiiru, Higashiyama-ku, 605-0075 Kyoto

Website: Miyako Odori at Gion Kobu Kaburenjo

Takes place: April

4. Kyo Odori at Miyagawa-cho Kaburenjo Theatre

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Kyo Odori is the annual spring performance of geiko and maiko from the Miyagawa-chō geisha district and is intended to welcome arrival of the season. The program is filled with several dances, songs, and musical performances. The performance culminates with the Miyagawa Ondo dance, presented by a group of geiko and maiko dressed in gorgeous kimonos.

Kyo Odori at Miyagawa-cho Kaburenjo Theatre

Address: Japan, 〒605-0801 Kyoto, Higashiyama Ward, Miyagawasuji, 4−306

Website: Kyo Odori at Miyagawa-cho Kaburenjo Theatre

Opening hours: 12:30pm, 2:30pm, 4:30pm (daily from 1-16 April)

Price: Starts from 22.75 USD

5. Gion Odori at Gion Kaikan

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Gion Odori is the Gion Higashi District’s annual geisha show, which takes place from 1-10 November, right when the leaves start to change color in autumn. It is relatively smaller compared to the other annual geisha performances in Kyoto, making this a good choice who prefer more intimate events, particularly considering that Gion district is considered to be the most prestigious among all the geisha districts.

Guests have the option to watch the performance alone or get tickets that would allow them to enjoy a cup of matcha and a sweet snack before the performance, along with a commemorative plate as souvenir.

Gion Odori at Gion Kaikan

Address: 323 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto, 605-0073, Japan

Website: Gion Odori at Gion Kaikan

Opening hours: 1:30pm and 4pm (daily from 1-10 November)

Price: Starts from 38 USD

6. Kamogawa Odori at Pontocho Kaburenjo Theatre

Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account

Kamogawa Odori is the annual performance of the geiko and maiko of the Pontocho area, one of the oldest districts in Kyoto. This performance is composed of two parts: the first half of the performance is a dance drama, which is accompanied by female musicians singing while playing instruments such as shamisen, drums, and flutes. The second half of the show is the performance of Kyoto Utagoyomi, which is composed of five scenes, each of which is distinguishable thanks to the use of moving backdrops.

What makes this performance stand out from other geisha performances is that it incorporates Western and modern touches and not just traditional Japanese elements.

Kamogawa Odori at Pontocho Kaburenjo Theatre

Address: 130 Hashishitacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8003, Japan

Website: Kamogawa Odori at Pontocho Kaburenjo Theatre

Opening hours: 12:30pm, 2:10pm, 6:10pm (daily from 1-24 May)

Price: Starts from 23.75 USD

7. Kitano Odori at Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theatre

Kitano Odori
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Onihide used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Kitano Odori is the annual performance of the geisha of the Kamishichiken District. The performance is typically segmented into three sections: a short play, themed dances, and the finale, the Kamishichiken Serenade. The first two sections typically change every year, but the finale remains the same with every performance. Guests have the option to watch the performance alone or pair it with a tea ceremony hosted by maiko.

Kitano Odori at Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theatre

Address: Japan, 〒602-8381 Kyoto, Kamigyo Ward, 今出川通七本松西入真盛町742

Website: Kitano Odori at Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theatre

Opening hours: 2pm, 4:30pm (daily from 1-25 April)

Price: Starts from 47 USD

8. Enjoy an evening of Maiko performance with kaiseki-style dinner at Gion Hatanaka (from USD 186.0)

This tour package allows guests to enjoy a dinner and a show in the company of maiko at Gion Hatanaka, a cultural center located in a geisha district. Prior to the actual dinner, the host will give you an overview of the cultural significance of the dinner and performance that you will be taking part in. The traditional Japanese meal is prepared by a chef and is paired by a combination of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Maiko serve as your hostesses and provide musical and dance performances throughout the dinner.

Kyoto Maiko Performance with Kaiseki Dinner and Drinks

Duration: 2 hours

81 reviews

9. Enjoy Japanese-style dinner along with traditional Japanese performances (from USD 125.0)

Make the most out of four hours by enjoying traditional Japanese food and entertainments. This activity will allow you not just to witness the dance performance of maiko, you will also be able to enjoy listening to gagaku court music and watching a puppet theater. Bundled in the package is a tea ceremony followed by a fantastic dinner. This activity is limited to a maximum of 24 guests, ensuring intimacy in the evening entertainment.

Gion Evening Culture Tour with Dinner and Show from Kyoto

Duration: 4 hours

10 reviews

10. Catch a Maiko performance at Gion District (from USD 58.0)

geisha shows in kyoto | catch a maiko performance at gion district
Source: www.viator.com

This activity allows guests to immerse themselves in Maiko culture. Besides being provided a background on the maiko and watching them perform, it will also give them the chance to have conversations and play games with them. This package is inclusive of the services of an English interpreter. You will get the chance to get a name card and photos with the maiko as souvenirs.

【Every Tue&Fri】MAIKO (Geisha) Performance @Gion Area

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

1 review

Catch a geisha performance in Kyoto

Kyoto is the heart of culture in Japan, and the geisha is at its center, which is why catching their performance should not be missed if you’re visiting the city. Use this list as your guide to finding the perfect place to witness the geisha show in Kyoto, Japan.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Melanie is a freelance travel writer. She considers freelancing for Trip 101 to be a combination of two of the things she loves: writing and traveling.

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