If you go to a far away place with limited time, try and do things that are unique that cannot be done anywhere else.
On planning my trip to japan I decided to do the Geisha dress up experience. A trip to Japan is a rare one for South Africans and so I decided to finally make that visit while I was living in South Korea. I planned to visit Hello Kitty’s House at Puroland, see the cherry blossoms at Mount Fuji and visit Harajuku and see some OTT fashion. The geisha dress up experience turned out to be so much fun and gave a little bit of insight into traditional arts and culture of Japan.
What are Geisha?
Geisha’s were once considered artists in Japan, with their main home being situated in Kyoto. Everything about geisha life was well orchestrated, and students had to learn to excel in their chosen field of art from dancing to music. Geisha’s were used mainly for entertaining, and it became an art and very unique experience to dine and have tea with them. Geisha’s business was the reservation and reflection of the rich culture Japan had created through style, mannerisms, fashion, music, drama and socialising.
During the World War 2, geisha’s got looped in with the perception of prostitution, as many of the prostitutes and houses would dress up similar or like a geisha for foreign customers, who were mainly soldiers.
However, being a geisha was once an honourable profession for a woman in Japan, which had roots deep in Japanese culture, especially concerning the arts and its preservation within the culture.
First, you get to choose the kimono you want and which make-up style you want. Make-up is done for about 20-30 min. Here is a look at the process:
The Photo Shoot
You then get your own little photo shoot indoors in the studio before you get to go outside. I was lucky as it was a beautiful Spring day in Tokyo.
Be prepared to have many tourists come running up to you for a picture with you. Luckily, you get helped by Maho and Cece as you wobble your way in those geisha shoes down the road. It’s best to do this in the weekday when the temple and roads are less crowded.
You don’t have to follow every step asked from the photographer, you can also give your own input. I didn’t just stick to certain poses or expressions or scenes at the temple. I saw lots of nice scenery in the streets of Tokyo as I walked to the Temple where I asked to have some photos taken, such as the garage door with cool graffiti on, or in front of the flower and manga book shops. If you feel a certain background looks like a good idea, let them know, they are more than happy to try new stuff too!
You get all the photos taken from the day from the photographer so make it work!
This was a really fun experience and I wish I could have donned all the beautiful kimonos on the racks. I also got a better understanding of the kimono and its richness in style and meaning and why it continues to be a timeless piece across the centuries. This is one of my absolute favourite memories of my visit to Japan.