Geisha Dances

2008 Miyako Odori poster

2008 Miyako Odori poster

Each year each hanamachi puts on a set of public performances and for a very reasonable sum you can see the best of the best perform for an hour or so.

Be warned that the pamphlets and program are often all in Japanese so if you don’t know Japanese folk tales you are unlikely to be able to follow the story. The Japanese are very seasonal and the performances follow a strict cycle of seasons starting with Spring and either ending in Winter or with the birthing of a new year; watch for the change of scenery and the different types of flowers.

Seeing the odori (dances) is much like seeing a ballet or opera in the West and while the maiko may be the most flamboyant they are also the least trained in dance and likely to only appear briefly so don’t go expecting a wild affair full of young girls. Some of the performances can be very funny but being Japanese many of them are tragedies of the Romeo and Juliet style.

2009 Kamogawa Odori Poster

2009 Kamogawa Odori Poster

Kyoto Geisha Dances

Tickets can be purchased either at the theatre listed or in person at the Kyoto Tourist Information Centre which is on the second floor of the Kyoto Train Station. It is advised to attempt to book tickets on the first day you are in Kyoto and attempt to get a seat 2 or 3 days later. Cheap tickets for the backpackers can usually be had for around 1500 Yen but you will be sitting on the floor in the dress circle with a lot of other gaijin, for around 4500 Yen you can get tickets in the stalls and a brief stint to watch a geisha and maiko perform tea ceremony.

Gion Odori – Gion-Higashi Geisha

Dances of Gion

1st to 10th November

Gion Kaikan Theatre


Performances at 1pm and 3:30pm

Kamogawa Odori – Pontocho Geisha

Dances of the Kamogawa River

1st to 24th May

Ponto-Cho Kaburen-jo Theatre

Ponto-cho-sanjo-kudaru, Nakagyo-ku Kyoto-city

Performances at 12:30pm, 2:20pm and 4:10pm

Telephone 075-221-2025

Kitano Odori – Kamishichiken Geisha

Dances of the Kitano Shrine

15th to 25th April

Kamishichiken Kaburen-jo Theatre

Imadegawa-dori-Nishihonmatsu nishi iru

(East of the Kitano-Tenman-gu Shinto Shrine)

Performances at 1pm and 3pm

Phone 075-461-0148

Kyo Odori – Miyagawa-cho Geisha

Kyoto Dances

First to Third Sunday in April

Miyagawa-cho Kaburen-jo Theatre

Kawabata-dori-Shijo Kudaru

East of the Kamogawa between Shijo Dori and Gojo Dori

Telephone 075-561-1151

Miyako Odori – Gion Kobu Geisha

Dances of the Old Capital

1st – 30th April

Gion Kobu Kaburen-jo Theatre

Higashiyama-ku-Gion-Cho South

Follow the paved pedestrian mall into Gion past the Ichiriki Teahouse, the Kaburenjo has large gates which cannot be missed.

Kyoto Go Kagai Godo Dento Geino Tokubetsu Koen – All 5 Kyoto Hanamachi

Kyoto Hanamachi Traditional Arts Special Program

Due to the treat of seeing all the 5 hanamachi in one event tickets for this show are around 9000 Yen

One weekend in Mid June

Kyoto Kaikan Daiichi Hall

13 Okazaki Saishoji-cho Sakyo-ku, Kyoto-city

Telephone 075-561-3901

Tokyo Geisha Dances

The Tokyo geisha dances are a little less accessible and a lot more expensive than those in Kyoto. If you wish to attend you will need to plan around the dates very carefully and have a Japanese speaking friend ring the theatre on your behalf. Expect to pay around 8000 – 10 000 Yen for seats if you can get them.

For those with some cash to throw around the Mandarin Oriental offers a package for tickets and accommodation from 85 000 Yen (around $800)

Azuma Odori – Shinbashi Geisha

Dances of the East

May 29th  – 1st June

Shinbashi Enbujo Theatre

6-18-2 Ginza Chuo-ku, Tokyo

Telephone 03-5565-6000

Kagurazaka Odori  – Kagurazaka Geisha

Dances of Kagurazaka

April 4th

Kagurazaka Gekijo Theater

15 Tansu-machi Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Performances 12pm, 2pm and  4pm

Telephone 3260-3291

Asakusa Geisha Kumi-Odori – Asakusa Geisha

Dances of the Asakusa Sanja Matsuri

Asakusa Kenban Theatre

3-33-5 Asakusa Taito-ku, Tokyo

Telephone 03-3874-3131

Other geisha districts

Atami Odori – Atami Geisha

Dances of Atami

April 28th and 29th

Atami Geiko Kenban Kaburen-jo

17-13 Chuo Atami-city, Shizuoka

Telephone 0557-81-3575

Furumachi Niigata Odori – Furumachi Geisha

Dances of Niigata

June 21st

Ryutopia Niigata Shimin Geijuku Bunkakaikan Theatre

3-2 Ichibanbori-dori-cho

Chuo-ku Niigata-city

Telephone: 025-222-7080