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Hi,I’m Keiko from Osaka!

Did you know that Kyoto has 5 geisha districts?

Geisha districts are called Hanamachi, literally meaning “flower town.”

Hanamachi are the districts where geisha houses and tea houses gather.

Generally speaking, hanamachi (or also called as “kagai” in Kyoto area) centers around geisha or maiko’s rehearsal hall where they practice their arts (dance and musical instruments, etc.).

There are now 5 active hanamachi in Kyoto, collectively referred to as “gokagai.”

These five districts are Gion Kobu, Gion Higashi, Miyagawa-cho, Kamishichiken, and Ponto-cho.

Each district has a specific custom, style of the arts, and a crest (which usually appears on geisha and maiko’s kimono).

Each geisha and maiko would usually belong to one particular district.

All of these 5 districts host public dance performances yearly, called odori (literally meaning dance).

These public performances are a great way for the general public to experience geisha and maiko’s arts, which are usually reserved for a small well-connected audience or the rich.

In this post, I will introduce you to these 5 odori in Kyoto hosted by 5 geisha districts!
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Local tells Top 5 best Geisha Dance Performances in Kyoto!

1.Miyako Odori in Gion-Kobu District/都をどり(祇園甲部)

Photo credit: u-dou on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-ND

Gion district is one of the most exclusive and reserved area only for the well-connected and the rich along with their foreign dignitaries.

Miyako Odori is the best place for the general public to see geisha and maiko of Gion-kobu district.

Miyako Odori started in 1872, during the time when the capital of Japan was being transferred to Tokyo.

In order to continue to promote the old capital, Kyoto, and to sustain its culture, Miyako Odori started.

It is known to be the most grand and colorful among the five odori in Kyoto.

This is a perfect odori for the first timer of geisha or maiko performance.

You will be awed with the sheer size of the performance.

The performance well captures Kyoto’s spring atmosphere in its traditional sense.

Due to its massive scale, it might be difficult for you see geisha and maiko’s faces.

Miyako Odori is held three times a day from April 1st to April 24 this year.

Usually, it is held in the historic Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Theater.

However, the theater is currently under renovation.

Therefore it is now hosted in Kyoto Art Theater, Shunjuza.

Being one of the most well pursued odori even among the Japanese, it is highly recommended to purchase a ticket in advance through Voyagin, instead of trying to buy their tickets on the day of the performance.

Here is a official video of Miyako Odori.



For further information or to make a reservation, please visit
here

Miyako Odori
Address:【Kyoto Art Theater (Shunjuza/studio21)】2-116 Uryuyama Kitashirakawa, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto
Location:From JR Kyoto Station,take city bus No.5 bound for Iwakura and get off at “Kamihatecho Kyoto Zokeigeidai-mae” stop.From Hankyu Kawaramachi Station,take city bus No.5 bound for Iwakura and get off at “Kamihatecho Kyoto Zokeigeidai-mae” stop
Phone:075-541-3391
Running Period:1st~ 24th April 2018
Fees (including tax):Special seat withtea service(The 1st floor and the 2nd floor chair seat) 4,600 yen,First Class seat(Accessible seats on the second floor)3,500 yen
Map
Get Directions

2.Kyo Odori in Miyagawacho District/京おどり(宮川町)

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As popular and colorful as Miyako Odori is Kyo Odori of Miyagawacho district.

Miyagawacho is a large geisha district along the banks of the Kamogawa River, famous for the Minamiza Kabuki theatre.

Compared with Miyako Odori, Kyo Odori is more expressive since geiko and maiko have dialogues and the performance is based on a story.

Kyo Odori, this year, is held from April 1st to April 16th at Miyagawacho Kaburenjo.

If you want to enjoy Kyo odori and dinner with Maiko,it is availablehere

Kyo Odori
Address:【Miyagawacho Kaburenjo Theatre】:4 chome Miyagawa-suji, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Location:7 minute walk from Keihan Railway Gion-Shijo station.10 minutes walk from Hankyu Kyoto Line Kawaramachi Station.
Phone:075-561-1151
Running Period:1th~16th April 2018
Fees (including tax):Rank One Seat with tea:4,800 yen,Rank One Seat: 4,200 yen,Rank Two Seat with tea: 2,800 yen,Rank Two Seat: 2,200 yen
Map
Get Directions

3.Kitano Odori in Kamishichiken District/ 北野をどり(上七軒)

Photo credit: Onihide on Visual Hunt / CC BY-SA
Kamishichiken is a small geisha district has about 25 geisha and maiko working in 10 tea houses.

Kitano Odori, their public performance, thus is cozy and my personal favorite.

It has no “bang” as Miyako Odori and Kyo Odori, but you can see geisha and maiko up close and personal.

They are also known to be excellent in their musical performances.

It is fairly easy to follow the story of the performance and the story can be quite powerful and moving.

This year, Kitano Odori is held from March 25th to April 7th.

For further information or to make a reservation,please visit here

Kitano Odori
Address:【Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theatre】742 Imadegawa Nanahonmatsu Nishiiru, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto
Location:From JR Kyoto Station,take city bus No.50 or 101 and get off at Kitano Tenmangu-mae Bus Stop and walk for 5 minutes.
Phone:075-461-0148
Running Period:25th March~ 7th April2018
Fees (including tax):Ticket with Tea Ceremony:4,800 yen,Ticket:4,300 yen
Map
Get Directions


Next,let’s go to the place for Geisha dance performance at Pontocho district!

4.Kamogawa Odori in Pontocho District/鴨川をどり(先斗町)

Photo credit: AcidFlask on Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC-SA
Pontocho district has become quite popular among the tourists.

It is centered around a picturesque alley looking out to the Kamo River.

The alley is a mixture of the traditional tea houses, prestige restaurants, as well as the modern bars.

The historical Kamogawa Odori begun in 1872.

Among the 5 dances, Kamogawa Odori has the most number of performances since its origin.

It was even loved by Charlie Chaplin.

It’s been held in May unlike the above three odori.

This year, Kamogawa Odori is held three times a day from May 1st and May 24, and usually composed of the first part, dance drama and the second part, dance performance.

For further information or to make a reservation,please visit here

Kamogawa Odori
Address:【Pontocho Kaburenjo Theatre】Pontocho Sanjo-kudaru, Nakagyo-ku
Location:3 minutes walk from Keihan Railway Sanjo station
Phone:075-221-2025
Running Period:1st May~ 24th May 2018
Fees (including tax):special seats with tea service:4,800 yen,Special seats:4,200 yen, general seats:2,300yen
Map
Get Directions

5.Gion Odori in Gion-higashi district/祇園をどり(祇園東)

Photo credit: Patrick Vierthaler on VisualHunt / CC BY-NC
Gion Odori is held in autumn in the beginning of the fall, unlike all the other odori which are held during the spring season.

Gion Odori is usually held twice a day, and every year they have a different theme, thus attracting their fans every year.

Gion Odori has the smallest group of maiko and geisha among all the 5 dance performances.

At the finale of the performances, all the maiko and geiko will line up on the floor on seiza posture (on their knees) to greet and thank the audiences, which is a beautiful scene to look forward to.

Gion Odori is held in Gion Kaikan.

For further information or to make a reservation,please visit here※It is available in October.

Gion Odori
Address:【Gion Kaikan】323 Gionmachi Kitagawa, Higashiyama Ward, Kyoto
Location:7 minute walk from Keihan Railway Gion-Shijo station.10 minutes walk from Hankyu Kyoto Line Kawaramachi Station.
Phone:075-561-0224
Running Period:The first week of November
Fees (including tax):Ticket with tea ceremony:4,500 yen,Ticket:4,000 yen
Map
Get Directions

【Additional Note】:Maiko Theater

This is a small theater where you can see maiko perform up and close.

Though not a part of odori, this might be a good experience as well for those wanting to see maiko and take pictures with them.

You can make a reservation through Voyagin site in advance, which is recommended.

For further information or to make a reservation,please visit here

Here is a video of Gion Odori.



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Summary

Top 5 best Geisha Dance Performances in Kyoto

  1. Miyako Odori・・・Miyako Odori is the best place for the general public to see geisha and maiko of Gion-kobu district.
  2. Kyo Odori・・・Compared with Miyako Odori, Kyo Odori is more expressive since geiko and maiko have dialogues and the performance is based on a story.
  3. Kitano Odori・・・Kitano Odori, their public performance, thus is cozy and my personal favorite.
  4. Kamogawa Odori・・・Among the 5 dances, Kamogawa Odori has the most number of performances since its origin.
  5. Gion Odori・・・Gion Odori is held in autumn in the beginning of the fall, unlike all the other odori which are held during the spring season.

I hope you enjoy the Geisha dance performances in Kyoto!

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