I Dressed Up as a Geisha in Kyoto and Got a Starbucks

My number one thing I wanted to do in Kyoto was to dress up as a Geisha girl. The temples, shrines and usual tour round Gion could come later.

Dressing up in Geisha or Maiko (old Geishas) kimonos is one of the most popular things to do in Kyoto. Worn out with navigating maps to find the ‘best’ places to do things in Tokyo, for my kimono photoshoot I decided to just go with the first place I saw, just round the corner from my hotel.

‘First’ turned out to be a good choice.

I opted for the hair, make up and their choice of kimono combo. I wasn’t fussed what it looked like – I just wanted to wear one.

I chose my hairstyle from about 40 pictures in front of me and the guy set to work poofing, curling and twisting. While he was working on the old barnet his colleague set to work whitening my face, pinking my lips and blushing my cheeks.

So impressed with the hair – this took about 15 minutes…

Dressing up as a geisha in Kyoto

Kyoto kimono time

“Cute or elegant?”

My ‘stylist’ had two kimonos laid out for me. I went for elegant – thought it would suit me better. The curtains went round, I stripped off and she handed me the clothing piece by piece to put on. I don’t know the technical terms for the Geisha wear so I’ll stick with the lingo I know.

Kimono photoshoot in kyoto

I am wearing…

  • A thin white dressing gown
  • Black leggings
  • Thin white socks
  • Thicker white socks
  • Pink dressing gown
  • Actual kimono
  • 4 different straps round my waist
  • Something round the middle
  • And another something
  • Fabric all the way round and tied at the back
  • Flip flops / sandals

Dressing up as a Geisha girl Dressing up as a Geisha girl

This diagram from megpie252 is helpful – and a tad more technical.

Dressing up as a geisha in Kyoto

The kimono photoshoot

I teetered out into their garden for a few snaps and then they told me I could do what I wanted but be back for 9pm. I was free to roam Kyoto where and how I wanted!

Dressing up as a geisha in Kyoto

Sadly it started to rain and my usual London strides didn’t work quite so well with all the restrictive clothing. I kept thinking I was going to rip it or fall over, neither were a good idea seeing as the kimonos cost thousands.

I made it up to the nearby Yasaka Temple and wandered around pretending I was an elegant Geisha girl. Not some crazy, white, blonde tourist taking selfies and looking like a fool in the get up. I took some photos, some Japanese people took photos with me, and some schoolgirls stood laughing at me.

Dressing up as a geisha in Kyoto Dressing up as a geisha in Kyoto Dressing up as a geisha in Kyoto Dressing up as a geisha in Kyoto

I didn’t really know what to do with myself. The only entertainment within a two-minute radius – all I could manage in the rain and the ‘okobos’ (shoes) – I could see, was Starbucks.

kimono photoshoot starbucks

And so I paid 5240¥ (£30) to dress up as a geisha girl, pull a stupid face and drink a flat white coffee in a Starbucks in Kyoto. What else are you gonna do on a rainy day?

Golden Pavilion, Kyoto

I went to see the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto the other day. It took me three attempts in the end to see the Kinkakuji Temple as it’s also known, thanks to a rainstorm and then my inability to read and judge map distances effectively before check out time.

Made it in the end though. And on the only day the sun came out in my week in Kyoto and Osaka. All good!

Well proud of these photos…

Photos of the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto

photos of kyoto golden pavilion photos of kyoto golden pavilion

Kyoto Golden Pavilion Kyoto Golden Pavilion

Kyoto Golden Pavilion

Kyoto Garden Pavilion

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  1. by Ed Rex on January 23, 2015  9:48 am Reply

    Work that pout, girl! You look absolutely amazing.

    Did you do a Geisha dance in the end?

    (P.S. Is it bad I want to be a Geisha and wearing a Kimono?)

    • by Vicky on January 25, 2015  10:27 am Reply

      Cheers Ed! No, definitely not! Think you'd really suit it. Can't promise the Japanese school girls that laughed at me won't laugh at you though. :)

  2. by Jayne on January 23, 2015  10:38 am Reply

    This is going to the top of my wish-list, visit to Starbucks included!

    • by Vicky on January 25, 2015  10:27 am Reply

      Ha, definitely! I know it was a bit of a random thing to do but yeah, didn't know what to do with myself!

  3. by Beverley on January 23, 2015  10:58 am Reply

    This is brilliant, Vicky! You look gorgeous :)

    • by Vicky on January 25, 2015  10:26 am Reply

      Thanks Beverley :)

  4. by Charlie on January 23, 2015  10:59 am Reply

    Haha, love it! You look great as a Geisha. I'd love to do this when a get to Japan one day. Looks like so much fun.

    • by Vicky on January 25, 2015  10:26 am Reply

      It was!

  5. by zoomingjapan on January 23, 2015  11:04 am Reply

    This is merely a Geisha dress-up. However, you can do Maiko dres--ups in Kyoto where they also put make-up on you, so your face will be all white, your lips red etc.
    I did that once. It was expensive but well worth it.
    My icon shows me dressed up as Maiko.

    They offer a lot of dress-ups in Kyoto. The walking course just dressed up in a yukata or kimono (what you did) is lovely as well.
    Kyoto offers so many beautiful backgrounds to take photos. They will be a great memory.

    Although it's expensive, I'd highly recommend it!
    They also have cool dress-ups for guys! ^___^

    • by Vicky on January 25, 2015  10:26 am Reply

      Yeah I thought she was going to put a lot more white on my face but in the end I was happy she didn't. I'd definitely do it again. Loved wearing the kimono but I think next time I need a friend so we can go and have fun in Kyoto in them :)

  6. by Jessica @ The Belle Voyage on January 23, 2015  3:33 pm Reply

    This is awesome! I had no idea you could do this in Kyoto. Wish I'd known when I was there!!


  7. by Kristin on January 24, 2015  4:10 pm Reply

    Love love LOVE the kimono but your hair is crazy awesome! They did that only in 15 min? I wish I'd done it when I was in Kyoto! Adding it to my travel wish-list.

    • by Vicky on January 25, 2015  10:20 am Reply

      Yeah, I couldn't believe it when he did the whole 'show the back in the mirror' thing. Wish I could do that. My hair was a right frizz ball that day too!

  8. Pingback : The 10 Best Things to Do in Kyoto, Japan - Gallivant Girl

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