Selfies of a Geisha

Alright, my title may be slightly inaccurate, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

During my time in Kyoto I indulged in the delight of dress-up and immersed myself in the (perhaps glorified) image of Kyoto’s Geishas. As part of a small group I headed to the Gion district for an early morning transformation.

We favoured frugality over accuracy and dressed up as “Maiko“, apprentice Geishas who are typically teenagers. Over an hour and a half, we were dressed in makeup, kimonos, and head pieces, a process which is not allowed to be photographed. Although it would certainly be a captivating experience to share, I agree with the opinion that these moments are best kept private, whether to preserve some mystery or simply to immerse yourself completely in the process. Seeing myself in the mirror was shocking, and for the next hour or so I felt anonymous in my disguise.


It’s certainly not an inexpensive experience. Packages range from 6500 yen to 30000 yen, with selection and time limits increasing with price. We did the smallest package: Maiko dress up, which includes a choice from of Kimono, one free photo and an hour taking pictures with your own camera. Although this might make your wallet a little lighter, I can absolutely say this has been one of my most memorable experiences thus far. 


Cats, Temples, and Geishas: KYOTO in a Nutshell

KYOTO: my first trip there and I’ve fallen in love. Japan’s old capital validated my high levels of anticipation, making a return trip the top of my travel to-do list. Two and a half (very) short days were crammed full of sight see-ing and (of course) food, more than I can fit into one post. I’ll be breaking Kyoto down into smaller stories, but first here it is: Kyoto in a nutshell.

Day one: An embarrassingly indulgent breakfast of pancakes and coffee and roaming around Kyoto station and its many levels of shopping. Kyoto station was a stunning example of functional but beautiful design. Large expanses of criss-crossing metal beams form walls- yet never enclose to form a building, allowing light and air to stream through.

Nishiki Market: It was easy to get disoriented in the bustling roads of shopping for everything from fish to wigs.

It was here that I also visited a temple to receive a fortune, after a few technical difficulties. Like most temples, a few hundred yen can be exchanged for a “fortune”, which you can take as lightly or as seriously as it suits you. I found a somewhat kitschy machine with an automated dragon(?) who fetched fortunes within an enclosed case.

It was here that I also ate a cat donut (adorable) burnt ramen (yes, burnt) and visited my first Cat Cafe.

The day culminated with a sensory overload at the Fushimi Inari Shrine. A series of hundreds of orange “Torii” gates leads up a mountain, called the Senbon Torii. We hit it just as the sun was going down, making the climb down treacherous but worth the view of the glowing orange shrines.

Day Two: Maiko Dress-Up in the Gion District, something I’ve been dreaming of doing and finally had the opportunity!

Kinkaku-ji, a stunning, golden temple which in the perfect weather absolutely glowed in against the blue sky and water.

This was followed by a return trip to the Gion District to explore the bustling nightlife and souvenir shops. In contrast to my other experiences in cities, Kyoto was surprisingly lively past 8 pm. Tokyo’s nightlife felt more hectic, and chaotic, especially in the Shibuya area. Kyoto, on the other hand was alive with excitement and yet entirely comfortable, like a spirited reunion with old friends.

Day Three: after a hasty breakfast and bus ride we spent an ethereal hour at Ginkaku-Ji, Kyoto’s silver temple (aka… the not so silver temple).