On the final night of our tour, we enjoyed a private dinner with a Kyoto geiko (芸妓) at a traditional ochaya (teahouse). Geiko are Japanese female entertainers skilled in various traditional arts such as classical music, dance, games, and conversation. Apprentice geiko are called maiko (舞子). The term “geisha” is often used in the west to refer to geiko/maiko but this term is discouraged in Kyoto.
We were joined again this year by Toshikana, one of Kyoto’s most beautiful and popular geiko. She charmed us with her grace and elegance as we enjoyed a beautiful kaiseki (懐石) dinner and conversation with her. We also watched her perform a dance and had many questions for her about her life as a geiko.
I led the group through a portrait photography session, and Toshikana made our work easy with her extensive experience in front of the camera. We finished off the night playing a traditional drinking game against Toshikana, and were each, in turn, thoroughly beaten by her until Lisa came along and matched her!
We finished off this memorable night and our tour with some photos together with Toshikana.
I’d like to extend my thanks to Tim, Lisa, Sue, Robert, Maria, and Emma for making our cherry blossom tour such a fantastic experience! You guys were absolutely amazing and such great company!