Kyoto was the city we were most excited about in Japan. It’s the former capital of Japan, and it’s also the largest city in the country that wasn’t destroyed during the war, so it’s one of the few places where you can see lots of traditional (pre-war) Japanese architecture. It’s also one of the best places to see Geisha.
We were so intrigued by Geisha we had to watch a few documentaries to learn more about them (search on YouTube if you are interested). They seemed so mythical and fairy tale-like. However, they really do exist and no, they are not prostitutes, but rather high-class performers or entertainers.
Kyoto is where Geisha culture first emerged more than 1200 years ago. There are far fewer Geisha now than there were in the past, but it’s amazing that a small group of extremely dedicated (it’s a lifetime commitment) women has kept this ancient profession alive. Kyoto has several ‘Geisha districts’ where you might spot Geisha out walking in the evening, sometimes even during the day. Problem is, lots of tourists in Kyoto dress as Geisha (dress rentals are quite popular), so you need to be careful to make sure you’ve spotted a legitimate one. Of course, tourists aren’t likely to go to the trouble of applying all the make-up in addition to the outfit, so that’s one telltale sign. Plus, real Geisha aren’t likely to be seen posing for selfies. We’re pretty sure we got a few pictures of real ones without being in their face.
We only spent here 4 days, but we’ve done so much that I have to post a few blog posts. Keep your eyes out for Arashiyama and Nara, which are just outside of Kyoto. We walked through a bamboo forest, hung out with Japanese monkeys and and watched free-roaming deer. 🙂