When in Japan you should never miss the chance to meet a real geisha while enjoying the traditional flavours of Japanese cuisine!
I experienced the true essence of Japanese culture with a memorable lunch and stunning geisha dances at Manyo-no-yu, a hot-spring resort splendidly located in Odawara near the magnificent Odawara Castle. Surrounded by both beautiful mountains and the endless ocean, Manyo-no-yu is only an hour away from Tokyo and represented a splendid location to witness a geisha performance.
The wagasa making experience
The geisha performance began with 11am with a warm greeting by an English guide before continuing on with a wagasa craft experience. Wagasa are traditional Japanese umbrellas, made with Japanese paper, string and bamboo. They are usually used as a parasol to protect against the sun but, interestingly, can also be used as a lamp. Fantastic! A master craftsman guides you step by step during the entire process, very much like a real sensei. At the end of this amazing experience we ended up with a stylish souvenir to bring back home!
Lunch with Geisha
Now, for the moment we had all been waiting. As we took our seats, we tasted a real Japanese meal with raw seafood (sashimi), assorted simmered food, miso soup, vegetables, honey sesame chicken wings and fried horse-mackerel. During the lunch, the guide introduced the geisha and offered explanations and information about the colorful kimono clothes and the everyday lives of these remarkable performers. The geisha performed for us traditional dances, music and party games. We also take part in some of the more popular games which dated back to the 18th century. Drinking games are highly likely to be performed, so kanpai (“Cheers!”)!
We had a great time but by the time you feel you have finally become friendly with the geisha, the experience ends. But don’t despair! You won’t leave without a memorable photo!