Geishas and maikos (apprentice geishas) in the hanamachi entertainment quarters of Gion and Pontocho gathered on January 7 to participate in a yearly ceremony to kick off the beginning of business after the New Year's holiday season. One of the largest gatherings occurred in Yasaka Hall in the compound of Gion Kobu Kaburenjo Hall in Higashiyama Ward. More than 110 geishas and maikos assembled in the hall, decked out in formal black kimonos and wearing kanzashi hair ornaments with rice-stalk motifs as well as dogs to celebrate the Year of the Dog.

The geishas and maikos assembled in Yasaka Hall chanted a pledge to make efforts in the new year in order to refine and maintain their artistic skills while proudly upholding the traditions of Gion.

In one of the highlights of the ceremony, Yachiyo Inoue V, fifth generation matriarch of the Inoue school of kyomai (Kyoto dance) and recently designated by the government as a national treasure, performed a famous dance called Yamatobumi.

Before leaving, the geishas and maikos were served miki, sacred sake only imbibed on auspicious occasions.

You can view the video here:

If this inspires you to learn more about the life of a geisha or perhaps even share in the experience your self, the Harima Ryotei in Obama, about two hours from Kyoto, offers experiences geared towards foreign visitors. They are even hiring and will consider non-Japanese candidates. You can read more about it here.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.