January
New Year’s Greetings (Shin Aisatsu 新挨拶)
Formal visits paid during New Year’s celebration in each hanamachi.
Kamishichiken and Pontocho: January 4
th
Miyagawa Cho: January 5
th
Gion Higashi: January 6
th
Gion Kobu: January 7
th

New Year’s Opening Ceremony (Shigyōshiki 始業式)
The official start of business for the new year. Those who earned the most money during the part year are celebrated and the senior geisha will dance on stage to inspire everyone to work hard.
Gion Kobu, Pontocho, Miyagawa Cho, and Gion Higashi: January 7
th
Kamishichiken: January 9
th

Ebisu Shrine Bamboo Sale (Hatsu Ebisu 初ゑびす)
Maiko hand out lucky bamboo branches at the Ebisu Shrine.
Gion Kobu and Miyagawa Cho: January 11
th

First Greetings (Hatsuyori 初寄り)
Second round of formal greetings for the new year as most do not have much time after Shigyōshiki.
Gion Kobu: January 13
th

February
Traditional New Year’s Celebrations (Setsubun 節分)
The start of the Lunar New Year that’s celebrated on fixed dates. Maiko will perform dedication dances at their local shrine and throw out packages of lucky beans to onlookers.
Yasaka Shrine
Miyagawa Cho and Pontocho: February 2
nd
Gion Kobu and Gion Higashi: February 3
rd
Kitano Tenmangu
Kamishichiken: February 3
rd

Disguise Fun (Obake お化け)
Geisha will dress up in elaborate costumes similar to Halloween and perform humorous skits for customers at ochaya.
All Hanamachi: February 2
nd – 4th

The Plum Blossom Festival (Baikasai 梅花祭)
Geisha and maiko perform a large outdoor tea ceremony for 3,000 guests at the Kitano Tenmangu shrine while celebrating the shrine’s famous plum trees.
Kamishichiken: February 25
th

March
Doll Festival (Hina Nagashi 雛流し)
Maiko say a pray and set afloat a small ornament featuring male and female dolls for Girl’s Day at Shimogamo Shrine.
Miyagawa Cho: March 3
rd

Higashiyama Dedication Dances (Higashiyama Hanatoro 東山花灯路)
Dedication dances to celebrate the coming of spring at Yasaka Shrine.
All Hanamachi: The second Saturday and Sunday of the month along with the third Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Kitano Odori ( 北野をどり)
The first public dance performance of the year by the geisha and maiko of Kamishichiken. Runs from March 25
th to April 7th.

April
Miyako Odori (都をどり)
The famous dances of the geisha and maiko from Gion Kobu. Runs from April 1
st to 30th.

Kyo Odori (京をどり)
The dances of the geisha and maiko of Miyagawa Cho. Runs from April 1
st to 16th.

Heian Shrine Spring Dedication Dances (平安神宮例大祭奉納舞踊)
Dances at the Heian Shrine to celebrate spring and the blooming of cherry blossoms.
Gion Kobu, Pontocho, Miyagawa Cho, and Gion Higashi: April 16th

Odori Completion Thanksgiving (お礼参り)
Geisha and maiko visit their local shrine with their dance teachers to thank the gods for a successful odori. This is usually performed a day after the completion of the odori.
Kamishichiken: April 8
th
Miyagawa Cho: April 17
th
Gion Kobu: May 1
st
Pontocho: May 25
th

May
Kamogawa Odori (鴨川をどり)
The dances of the geisha and maiko of Pontocho. Runs from May 1
st to 24th.

Inari Shrine Festival (観亀稲荷神社宵宮祭)
The local Inari shrine celebrates prosperity with tea ceremonies and an outdoor festival.
Gion Higashi: Second Wednesday of the month.

June
Gion Life Releasing Ceremony (祇園放生会)
Maiko join with priests from a local shrine to release fish back into the Shira River.
Gion Kobu: June 3
rd

Miyako No Nigiwai (都の賑い)
The joint performance of geisha and maiko from all five hanamachi.
All Hanamachi: Last weekend of June

July
Gion Festival (祇園祭)
One of the largest festivals in Japan, its main purpose is to bring out the gods enshrined at Yasaka Shrine to celebrate with the common folk for a while before being returned. Various events take place, with the most watched being the Grand Parade that takes place on July 17
th.

Refinement Celebration (みやび会)
All geisha and maiko, along with their teachers, pray for continued success in dance for the upcoming year.
Gion Kobu: July 7th

Flower Hat Procession (花笠巡行)
The second largest parade during the Gion Festival. It features geisha and maiko riding in special floats that accumulates with a special dedication dance at Yasaka Shrine.
Gion Kobu/Gion Higashi and Pontocho/Miyagawa on rotating years: July 24
th

August
Hassaku (八朔)
Traditional rounds of thanksgiving performed at the peak of the summer heat to show dedication to one’s artistic endeavours.
All Hanamachi: August 1st

September
Takase River Boat Festival (高瀬川舟まつ)
Maiko participate in a ceremony to bless the boats that carry goods up and down the Takase River.
Pontocho: September 22
nd or 23rd

October
Onshūkai (温習会)
The annual autumn dances of the geisha and maiko of Gion Kobu. Runs from October 1
st to 6th.

Kotobukikai (寿会)
The annual autumn dances of the geisha and maiko of Kamishichiken. Date varies.

Mizuekai (みずゑ会)
The annual autumn dances of the geisha and maiko of Miyagawa Cho. Date varies.

Suimeikai (水明会)
The annual autumn dances of the geisha and maiko of Pontocho. Date varies.

Harvest Festival (ずいき祭)
Geisha and maiko line the streets to watch the parade that celebrates the harvest.
Kamishichiken: October 4
th

Festival of Ages (時代祭)
A grand festival where hundreds of individuals dress up in traditional costumes that cover a time period of over 1,200 years. Geisha and maiko will dress up in various roles.
All Hanamachi (Rotating Years): October 22
nd

November
Gion Odori (祇園をどり)
The annual dances of the geisha and maiko of Gion Higashi. Runs from November 1
st to 10th.

Nishijin Obi and Kimono Festival (きものてう園遊会)
An outdoor tea ceremony to celebrate the kimono and obi made in the famous Nishijin weaving district.
Kamishichiken: November 3
rd

Kanikakuni Festival (かにかくに祭)
Geisha and maiko pray at the stone inscribed with Isamu Yoshii’s famous poem “Kanikakuni” as a way of thanking the author for his contributions.
Gion Kobu: November 8
th

Ballad of Gion Festival (祇園小唄祭)
Maiko are chosen to recite the lines of the famous song in front of a monument to the ballad in Maruyama Park.
All Hanamachi (Rotating Years): November 23
rd

December
Kaomise Soken (顔見世素見)
The annual visits to view the first kabuki performances of the year, which begins in December.
All Hanamachi (Rotating Days): December 1
st to 5th

Kotohajime (事始め)
Geisha and maiko pay visits to their dance teachers to give New Year’s gifts and receive a new fan to dance with in the coming year.
All Hanamachi: December 13
th

Okotōsan (お事多うさん)
Various visits are made to ochaya and gohanya by shouting “Okotosan Dosu,” meaning “A Great Many Blessings,” in the entryways and receiving a small present in return.
Gion Kobu and Miyagawa Cho: December 30
th

Sacred Hearth Flame Lighting (おけら詣り)
Visits are made to a local shrine where a special rope is purchased and lit by a purifying fire. This rope is then brought back to the okiya to light the hearth for the first time in the new year.
Gion Kobu and Miyagawa Cho: December 31
st

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