miyakodori top

Have you ever fantasized about the world of geisha? Even for most of us Japanese, the beautifully made-up and richly adorned geisha is an object of fascination and mystery, simply because the world they live and entertain in is so exclusive. Since it’s quite rare for the average Japanese person to have the opportunity to be entertained by professional geisha, many of us don’t really have an idea of what goes on in the tea houses (ochaya) and traditional restaurants (ryotei) where geisha perform, which is why the ryotei Miyakodori has come up with a one-day event called the “Ozashiki Cafe” to offer us a glimpse into the hidden world of geisha!

miyakodori cafe poster

Yes, for just one day next month, on June 21, the ryotei located in Tokyo’s Asakusa district will be opening its doors to the Japanese public by advance reservation. Ozashiki in Japanese is the word that refers to the rooms in tea houses and ryotei restaurants where geisha entertain guests, and the event is meant to be an opportunity for people to experience the world of ryotei and geisha in a more casual way, as if they were visiting a cafe (albeit a high-end one), hence the name “Ozashiki Cafe”.

▼This is one of the ozashiki rooms at Miyakodori:
miyakodori interior

For 5,000 yen (US$49) per person, guests will be treated to a one-hour session of song and dance performances by three professional geisha as well as experiencing some of the unique games geisha usually play with guests, known as ozashiki-asobi (literally, “room-play”), and they’ll also be served Japanese tea and sweets. There will be two sessions held that day, one from 2 p.m. and the other from 4 p.m., with room for 20 guests for each session. Reservations are required, and with the limited number of seats available, the 4 p.m. session seems to be full already.

If you’re interested, inquiries and reservation can be made directly to Miyakodori per the contact details below, but you should expect the sessions to be in Japanese.

5,000 yen for one hour may not sound especially reasonable, but considering how expensive a regular visit to a tea house or ryotei could be (and we really have no idea exactly how expensive, but we do know it’s prohibitively costly), and also that you can’t even get into many of the ochaya or ryotei without being accompanied by a regular customer, the Ozashiki Cafe actually may be an excellent chance for members of the public to see beautiful and accomplished geisha in action. In fact, if there are any seats left, we may be tempted to participate ourselves. It’s not every day you can spend time in the company of a real geisha, after all, and we have to admit we wouldn’t mind in the slightest being entertained by lovely women!

[Details for Miyakodori]
Address: 3-23-10 Asakusa, Taito-ku, Tokyo 111-0032
Tel: +81-3-3874-2175
Closed Saturdays and Sundays
Access: 10 min walk from Ginza Line and Asakusa Line Asakusa Station
5 min walk from Tsukuba Express Line Asakusa Station
Website: http://asakusa-miyakodori.com/
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/asakusa.miyakodori

Source: Miyakodori website and Facebook page via Asakusa Keizai Shimbun (all in Japanese), Ozashiki Cafe page on Miyakodori website (Japanese and English)
Photos: Miyakodori Facebook site