Kanazawa remains one of Japan’s most curious cities. True to its deep roots, its architecture and layout continue to reflect the style and look that dominated its feudal era during the famed Edo period. Even today, its mysterious districts draw visitors and photographers from around the world who wish to experience and capture its intrigue, which is well-depicted on the Visit Kanazawa website replete with captivating visuals and trip planning resources.
One of its most intriguing elements is its Geigi culture—a world that is quite mysterious to many. In Kanazawa, Japan, Geisha is called “Geigi” and the life of these women is dedicated to mastering various forms of entertainment that is performed for guests, from dancing and singing to playing instruments and games. Brittanica notes that “many geisha are also adept at flower arranging, performing the tea ceremony, or calligraphy.”
Geigi Culture: Only 1,000 Geisha Left in Japan
A report on Bokksu.com notes that, “Nowadays, there are just 1,000 geisha left in Japan, most of whom live and work predominantly in Tokyo and Kyoto. These modern geisha tend to remain within their district, where they’re treated with the utmost respect by Japanese locals, and not approached for photos or conversation.”
For its part, Kanazawa is home to three distinct Geigi districts and, though it can be difficult to secure, a private appointment with a Geigi is actually possible. These opportunities are not for the budget conscious. However, the experience promises to be an unforgettable evening once you are able to get your foot in the door.
A private appointment with a Geigi must come by personal referral, or through a trusted travel partner with proper access when on-site. Once in, the evening is a captivating series of conversations, questions, performances and masterful displays of the arts accompanied by several courses of unique traditional Japanese dishes. Guests are able to engage, observe and take photos with the Geigi while they ponder such a lifestyle and glean a more defined understanding of the culture that is still so vibrant today in Kanazawa’s labyrinth-like streets.
For those who don’t need the private appointment to fulfill their curiosity, there are plenty of alternative options. Geigi Evenings are available at Kaikaro teahouse, the largest teahouse in Kanazawa, which offers guests an opportunity to see Geigi in full traditional dress, makeup and ornate hairstyle. One of the highlights at Kaikaro is to meet the legendary landlady, Lady Baba, who provides informative, entertaining speeches regarding the teahouse and Geigi culture entirely in English.
Geigi Practice Sessions
And, if one happens to visit off season when Geishas take a break from full dress, it’s possible to take in the Geigi Practice Session where you can observe the ladies during daytime hours , roaming makeup-free with natural hair and casual dress as they practice their performances.
Geigi culture reconvenes annually each September with Kanazawa Odori, where performers from Kanazawa’s three teahouse districts unite to perform together with various musical instruments and traditional dances that tell stories.
The Visit Kanazawa Facebook page is a great place to get inspired and learn more about the wonders of this enigmatic destination.
About the Author
Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand strategist and analyst who reports on cultural shifts and trends as well as noteworthy industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all categories, both B2C and B2B. This includes field experts and thought leaders, brands, products, services, destinations and events. Merilee is Founder, Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List” as well as Host of the “Savvy Living” lifestyle TV show that airs in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta and other major markets on CBS, FOX and other top networks; as well as the “Savvy Ventures” business TV show that airs nationally on FOX Business TV and Bloomberg TV.
Merilee also hosts the Savvy Ventures Podcast & Radio show available globally on W4CY Radio—the #1 ranked live streaming radio station—among others as well as all major podcast platforms, including Pandora, Audible, Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Streamyard, iHeart Radio and dozens more. As a prolific lifestyle, travel, dining and leisure industry voice of authority and tastemaker, Merilee keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in search of new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points, from the affordable to the extreme.
Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided or arranged at no cost to accommodate this review editorial, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.