I was intrigue by the Japanese Geisha culture so I joined a walkabout at the Geisha districts around Gion, Kyoto with a local guide.
We walked through narrow streets that still reminded us of the Edo period. Apprentice Geishas are called Maiko or “Woman of Dance”while a trained Geishas are called Geiko or “Woman of Art”. Contrary to popular believe, Geishas are not the Eastern equivalent of a prostitute. This is a misconception originated from the West due to interactions with Japanese courtesans, whose traditional attire is similar to that of a Geisha.
If you happen to be in Kyoto, it is well worth the effort and money to attend one of these walkabouts. It gives a very in-depth understanding of the Geisha culture and how they are trained, how the training are funded, the mentor-ship system and numerous details that have escaped the main media.
Gion, Kyoto, especially in the Geisha district has now banned photography on their streets due to abuses by selfie photographers who have made a nuisance of themselves in the past. If you are caught taking photos, the fine is 10,000 yen or 100 USD.
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Disclaimer: These photos were taken well before the ban of photography on the streets of Gion, Kyoto.