Geisha (Geiko), Maiko

Kyoto knows five geisha districts, namely Miyagawa-cho Kabu-kai, Ponto-cho Hanamachi, Gion Kobu, Gion Higashi Kabu-kai and Kamishichiken Kabu-kai.

In Kyoto, geisha are formally called, geiko and apprentice geiko are called maiko. Each one of these districts in Kyoto have their own theater where geiko and maiko perform their elegant dances every year. Four of the performances are held in spring, one in the fall.


A maiko heading home after performing at the Miyako Odori

Ichiriki Chaya (Ichiriki Teahouse) is one of the most famous and historic o-chaya (geisha “tea house”) in Kyoto, Japan. It is located at the southeast corner of Shijō Street and Hanami Lane, with its entrance on Hanami Lane (Hanami Lane is the heart of the district of Gion). It is considered an exclusive and high-end establishment; access is invitation only and entertainment can cost upwards of 800,000 yen a night.

Ichiriki Chaya is over 300 years old, and has been a major centerpiece of Gion since the beginning of the entertainment district. Like other o-chaya in Gion, Ichiriki was a place where men of status and power went to be entertained by geisha, who distracted guests through dancing, banter, and flirtation. Ichiriki has traditionally entertained those of political and business power.

The house is run by the Sugiura family, and the nameplate on the entrance gate reads Sugiura Jirou(u)emon, the name of the ninth generation head.