Stalking Geishas at Gion

It was night time when I arrived at Gion–the perfect time to go geisha-hunting.  After a few minutes of gazing at the lighted lanterns at Yasaka Shrine, I walked along Shijo-Dori.  Things got interesting after a left turn at Hanami-koji street.  Along this dark street are traditional wooden houses, restaurants, and teahouses.  These are not your typical establishments.  It’s almost as if you need to know the password or a secret handshake before they let you inside.

The secrecy is no surprise, specially for the teahouses.  A relationship with a teahouse needs to be established before you are entertained by a geisha.  The rates are also prohibitive so the patrons are mostly wealthy and important people.  Definitely not a casual tourist.

So the tourists stalk geishas.  They come to Gion, hoping for a glimpse at the elusive geisha.  In front of the Ichiriki Teahouse, a band of tourists armed with cameras stood there waiting for their first geisha encounter.

But I did not stay.  I did not want to spend the night waiting in front of a teahouse.  And more important, some grilled meat and a cold Asahi were calling me.


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