It may be a bit touristy to hunt for geisha in Kyoto, but head to Fukuoka and they’re there for all to see.
The 22nd Hakata Odori will be held in Hakata Ward in Fukuoka on Dec. 7 and 8. In the annual show, 21 geisha entertainers (who are also called geigi) will perform traditional dances and music.
The opening number, titled “Shikunshi” (“Four Great Persons”), features the comparison of four elegant plants from both Chinese and Japanese tradition: the orchid, the chrysanthemum, the plum blossom and bamboo. The performance will consist of singing and shamisen music, which is also known as kiyomoto, the music that is often associated with kabuki.
The second act features lion-themed dancing accompanied by nagauta, a lyrical kind of singing also performed in kabuki.
In Fukuoka, which was also known as Hakata in the past, geisha entertainment became popular during the Edo Period (1603-1867). That popularity peaked in the early Showa Era (1926-1989) when the number of geisha in the region reached 2,000, according to the Hakata Dento Geino Shinkokai (Hakata Traditional Arts Promotion Association), one of the organizers of the Hakata Odori. The number has been gradually declining since.
Hakata Odori takes place at Hakataza Theater on Dec. 7 and 8 in Fukuoka City. The first performance begins at 11 a.m. and the second performance starts at 2:30 p.m. Tickets cost ¥2,000, ¥5,000 or ¥7,000 and are available from Ticket Pia (P code 423-307) and Lawson Ticket (L code 89630). For more information, call Hakata Dento Geino Shinkokai at (092) 441-1118.