Lunch with Geisha in Odawara

A bucket list experience

By Stefania Barile    - 2 min read

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!

Handcrafted Japanese umbrella
Handcrafted Japanese umbrella

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!”)!

Maiko performance
Maiko performance

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!

Getting there

Take the Tokaidō Line to Atami Station from Ueno or Tokyo Station – 11 stops, about 75 minutes (JPY 1,520).

The shinkansen may be a faster option: from Tokyo Station take the Kodama shinkansen bound for Nagoya – 3 stops, 35 minutes (JPY1,760, Non-Reserved Seat).

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Stefania Barile

Stefania Barile @stefania.barile

Join the discussion

Elizabeth S 5 months ago
Wow, I’d love to see this. Odawara castle town is so generous in sharing these experiences with visitors.
Sherilyn Siy 5 months ago
I've been to Odawara and the area provides a breathtaking background for this unique experience.
Sleiman Azizi 5 months ago
Nice work Stefania. Seems like you really enjoyed the experience.
Kim B 5 months ago
Wow - a bucket list item for sure! What an amazing experience.