Geisha Experience Kyoto

Geisha Experience Kyoto

Introduction

There are several studies and scholarly articles dedicated to the geisha culture. The role was first practiced by male individuals but is mostly known as a female profession in modern Japan.

Geisha culture and practice is a recognized form of elegant art and is considered as one of the trademarks that define Japan. This study aims to weigh the interest of tourists, whether participants have reason to explore the history or enjoy the experience.

 

Summary

Maikoya Kimono Tea Ceremony conducted this study to find out if tourists have an interest to explore the history or enjoy the experience of Geisha culture.  According to an online discussion, respondents who want to know more about Japanese culture and the mystery of the Geisha have a vested interest in this experience as it is unique to the locality.

Misunderstanding its cultural significance is a common theme with disinterested responses. The first online shows that 3 out of 10 travelers who made a reservation on www.mai-ko.com/geisha are very interested in Geisha culture, with 15.5% having met or watched a data show while traveling to Japan.

Those who have a high interest in Geisha would like to know about the culture and have a high interest. They had an interest in the dress, traditions, and its unique aspect in comparison to the Western culture.

The respondents also enjoyed the games, their mystery and would like to learn more about its culture. They were interested in the history of Geisha because of their portrayal in films, and others found the experience cool.

The second survey on respondents who had the Tea ceremony with Geisha expressed interest in the tradition, culture, and uniqueness of the experience. The other half wanted the exclusive experience and found Geisha mysterious. 

They enjoyed the authenticity and unique culture of the Geisha experience. The chance to interact with Geisha was unique and gave them a glimpse of Japanese culture.

 

Background

geisha Maikoya

Geiko is an artist and a professional entertainer who excels in traditional Japanese arts. There are currently around 150 geikos living in Kyoto.

People often use the word geiko and geisha interchangeably because these two words mean the same thing except the fact that the word geiko is only used in Kyoto. Geisha are professional artists who are registered in official geisha associations and excel in traditional Japanese arts and crafts such as shamisen playing, dancing, and tea ceremony.

Geiko is the word that refers to geisha in the Kyoto dialect. Broma-Smenda (2014) defines it as “Geisha (geigi or geiko) is a traditional Japanese female entertainer, whose skills include various arts like dancing, singing, and playing music.

Geishas as male companions at banquets were specialized only in traditional Japanese arts in contrast to courtesans (yujô).

 

Methodology

In the first phase of data collection, an online survey measured approximately 3000 visitors to the samurai museum in Kyoto during October 2020 and received 367 responses with a response rate of around 15%. In the second phase, another online survey was sent out during November 2020 to travelers who made a reservation on www.mai-ko.com/geisha related to any geisha experience in Kyoto. A total of 47 responses were gathered with a survey response rate of around 13%. The respondents were informed about the purpose of the study, and no individually identifying information was collected.

 

Online Forum

In an online discussion, groups related to Japan were asked whether they were interested in Geisha professionals or not. The research resulted in open-ended answers why they were interested or uninterested in the geisha. The experiment was done on Reddit and Japan culture-related groups on Facebook.

Table 1. General Responses

Negative Positive Neutral
Not interested. I do appreciate they train and pick up traditional dancing/music but how is the role of a geisha different to that of a kyabajo. Feels it’s demeaning as a whole I’m interested in Geisha. I’ve always been fond of theater and dance and appreciate the training that Geisha go through. I remember reading the autobiography of Mineko Iwasaki for one of my history projects and being enamored with her story. Neither interested, nor disinterested. I feel a large part of my disinterest stems from the Western perception of geisha as a prostitute and from the Western fascination with them. Like ninja, geisha are misunderstood in the West. My interest lies in the historical geisha and what life must have been like during those days. To go to a tea house and be entertained with traditional music and song. Fascinating.
I’m not interested in them. I know that they exist and have an idea of what they do, past that I don’t put any thought into it. I got interested in Geisha because of the memoirs of a geisha, but I was fascinated to see how the movie changed the kimono, and how a normal housewife would wear a kimono, so that was what started me on learning about Japan, and kimono. Geisha wear the most complicated kimono and know the most about how to move beautifully in a susohiki furisode I’m vaguely interested but it’s not my favourite part of Japan’s culture.
I’m not interested in it at all personally. I have a great distaste for make-up, so I don’t like looking at geisha either. And because of that, I don’t bother looking into it nor have I ever heard anything about it that would interest me. Yes it’s a important to keep Japanese Culture of geisha I studied the geisha culture from the feudal era to Edo period 1250ad to 1889 of Japan geisha was originally prostitutes now geisha is a housewife or a beautiful lady of the house and tourism of entertainment nowadays
No , because it is an outdated lifestyle. I love it .It represents a unique culture and tradition of song dance and hospitality.

Those ladies study all forms of traditional,singing, dancing and service.

They study good manners and how to deal with people from various cultures

What I don’t like at all is the wrong view of western countries, especially the American that label them as prostitutes. This is sad and misrepresentation of a noble and traditional culture

Sexual immorality and prostitution were a part of it. That makes it questionable. Most definitely. I love the beauty, the tradition of what they do, the dedication to serving.

 

First Survey

In November 2020, an online survey about traveling experiences in Japan was conducted. (N:368 who visited a history museum in Kyoto)

 

Percentage of People Interested in the Geisha Tradition

The study shows 30% of people who answered very interested.” This interest level is below Tea ceremony (38%), sumo watching experience (49%), cooking experience (44%), and ryokan stay experience (63%)..

 

Percentage of People Who Met or Watched a Geisha Show While Traveling to Japan

The study showed 15.5% of people who answered “yes.” It shows that the interest level places behind Tea ceremony (47%), ryokan stay (46%), cooking or food tours (30%), and similar to the sumo experience (14%).

 

Table 2: General Response to Interest in Geisha

Low-Level Interest High-Level Interest
Too old school for me.
Would love to learn more about the geisha culture 
I love J Culture

 

Table 3: Cultural Insight Response

Low-Level Interest High-Level Interest
Don’t know much about geishas I think maybe the mystery is appealing in this case I have heard a lot about geisha but don’t know much history about them, so it would be interesting to learn.
Very cool but expensive Geisha dresses are so beautiful & it’s so different from western culture
Kids uninterested and short attention span It is interesting to try something from a new culture
Have witnessed it before and found it a bit too staged Very interested in this unique aspect of Japanese Culture

 

Table 4: Cultural Experience Response

Low-Level Interest High-Level Interest
I have already seen a geisha show Learning about the games and the growth of geishas is interesting
Not sure what it is I want to experience everything in Japanese Culture
I don’t know very much about it Something mysterious about the geisha.
Feel this is a bit exploitative  I’d like to learn from geishas and their experiences from Japanese Culture.

 

Geisha History Response

People are more responsive when asked about the history of the geisha, saying Japan’s culture is unique and interesting due to what is portrayed in the films. Others described their response as “cool” and are interested in the history behind the geisha.

 

Second Survey

Findings

The study surveyed about 300 participants who participated in a Geisha Tea ceremony. The response rate counted up to 15%.

Table 5: Why People Wanted to Join the Geisha Experience

Response Rate
Because I wanted to learn about the tradition of geisha 100%
Because I wanted to learn about the history of geisha and/or history of Japan 95.7%
Because I wanted to participate in a traditional local activity/experience only exists in Japan 87.2%
Because having the geisha experience can teach me about Japanese Culture 78.7%
Because I wanted to talk to the geisha or ask questions to the geisha 71.7%
Because I wanted to join an “exclusive” experience 56.5%
Because I wanted to see the makeup and outfit of the geisha closely 54.3%
Because the “mystery” of the geisha was appealing to me 51.1%
Because I wanted to watch the dance performance of geisha closely 51.1%
Because I believed geisha are beautiful and wanted to see closely 46.8%
Because I was fascinated by the “geisha” through movies/books, etc. 42.2%

 

Table 6: Responses to Geisha Culture

Other Responses Positive Experience
Unfortunately, our trip to Japan (planned for end of march 2020) was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemia My wife and I are passionate about Japanese culture and having a chance to see and speak to a Geisha was really interesting for us.
I thought it looked like a fantastic opportunity to experience Japanese culture. It was our honeymoon so we were happy to pay a little extra. The website was easy to use and it was easy to book. Unfortunately our visit was cancelled due to Covid but customer service was always very good.  It’s very unique to Japanese culture and I had never met a Geisha before, so I was very interested in finding out more! I really enjoyed being able to ask her questions about her routine, her journey and her life as a Geisha. It was great to have a translator present! It was an amazing experience and I really enjoyed having my hair done and dressing up for the occasion. 
We never got to visit due to the pandemic. Our trip was for May 2020, but we would like to return next year. The experience was one of the best things we did whilst visiting Japan. Our Tea ceremony with a Meiko was just incredible and gave a glimpse into one of the most fascinating traditions in Japan. 
Unfortunately, we had to cancel our experience due to COVID. I will say that I was very pleasantly surprised with how easy the cancellation process was and was impressed with the kind response we got when requesting the cancellation. We wanted to attend the experience to learn more about Japanese culture and still hope to do so in the future. My husband and I booked a private dinner with unlimited drinks and a Maiko performance in Kyoto last December. It was truly a beautiful experience. The food was great, the performance felt very authentic and the service was impeccable. We wanted to experience the geisha culture up close and personal and we felt that this experience allowed us to do that. 
I was looking forward to the Geisha experience but it got canceled because of the covid-19. My main reason for wanting to have the experience is because Geishas are unique in the world, they are a very interesting part of Japanese culture and they represent ages of tradition and history. I had a tea ceremony in late December last year, I wanted to do it to discover more traditional Japan as i was in Tokyo before coming to Kyoto and for me this tea ceremony is still an amazing memory 

I wanted to meet and see an authentic geisha performance and understand the cultural significance behind it. It was great. Got to ask questions through the translator, and maiko-san was very kind. I also got to do a traditional tea ceremony which was lovely. 

 

Analysis

The figure below encompasses the most common themes as stated by the respondents of this study. The bigger the text, the more common it is as a theme.

As seen in the figure, the biggest recurring themes of the responses include learning and seeing culture and history. This suggests that customers who had the Geisha experience are interested in the cultural significance.

They have a curiosity about this idea. Those who are open to the rare chance of having the tea ceremony with a Geisha enjoy this mysterious aspect of Japanese culture.
The next biggest recurring themes are unique, maiko, history, authentic, Japanese, and Kyoto. They show that respondents have a concept of the experience and its importance. These words show that respondents acknowledge the distinctness of this culture.

Illustration 1: Word Clout From Geisha Survey

Conclusion

Based on the results of the Maikoya Kimono Tea Ceremony conducted on their customer who made a reservation and visitors to the Samurai Museum, Geisha Culture is interesting to those who want to learn more about Japanese traditions and history. An online discussion forum group revealed that positive responses show interest in the art of Geisha in the aspects of art and culture.

It is also noted that negative responses show a general theme of Westerners misinterpreting the culture as prostitution. The online survey conducted last November 2020 shows that 3 out of 10 travelers who made a reservation on www.mai-ko.com/geisha are very interested in Geisa culture, with 15.5% having met or watched a data show while traveling to Japan.

Among the responses, those who have a high interest in Geisha would like to know about the culture and have high interest, with regards to the respondents’ insight of the cultures themes of the responses revolved around interest in the dress, traditions, and its unique aspect in comparison to the Western cultures. Those who have experienced Geisha culture enjoyed the games, its mystery and would like to learn more about its culture.

These respondents were interested in the history of Geisha because of their portrayal in films, and others found the experience cool. Another survey on respondents who had the tea ceremony with Geisha revealed why they wanted the Geisha experience.

Most expressed interest in the tradition, culture, and uniqueness of the experience. More than half wanted the exclusive experience of seeing and talking to actual Geisha, and are fascinated by their mystery.

Some wanted to see the beauty of Geisha, and others are fascinated because of books and film. Those who had the Geisha experience enjoyed the authentic Geisha performance and its cultural significance.

They had the chance to interact with Geisha personally, which gave them a glimpse of this unique Japanese culture. Those who had their experience unfortunately postponed by the COVID-19 restrictions were impressed with the ease of the kind response to the cancellation and still look forward to the experience.

 

References

Baughn, T., & Furman, K. (2008). The Evolution and Resurgence of the Geisha Profession 1937-1965.

Johnston, W. (2004). Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star: A Woman, Sex, and Morality in Modern Japan. Columbia University Press.

Downer, L. (2002). Women of the Pleasure Quarters: The Secret History of the Geisha. Crown.

 

Maikoya Kimono Tea Ceremony

Maikoya is one of Japan’s leading cultural experience providers with branches in Osaka, Kyoto, and Tokyo. The company specializes in cultural and traditional activities such as tea ceremony, sushi and other cooking classes, calligraphy, flower arrangement, taiko drumming, and the like.

Maikoya accommodates sessions in English, Chinese, and Japanese. The activities are designed to accommodate groups for school trips, company trips, international conferences, vacationers, and other miscellaneous companies.

Maikoya is also the only venue that offers geisha tea ceremony experience everyday in central Kyoto. The geisha tea ceremony also includes sweets tasting, wearing a traditional kimono and asking questions to the geisha.

 

Samurai & Ninja Museum

The Samurai & Ninja Museum Kyoto is a leading samurai museum in Japan that offers a variety of experiences that inform and educate visitors on the history and relevance of samurais and ninjas in Japan. Some of these experiences will range from sword cutting, historical tours in Kyoto, and a crash course on ninja training.

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Contact us : info@mai-ko.com