It is not so well known that Tokyo shelters geisha communities that are as old as their Kyoto counterparts. The streets behind Asakusa temple provide a glimpse of the 'flower and willow world’ and offer possibly the best chance you’ll get in this sprawling metropolis of spotting one of these elusive, enigmatic creatures.
Head down the nameless side streets that lead off the touristy Nakamise dori at Asakusa temple to discover high-class kimono parlours and discreet booths selling slender hand-painted bamboo fans, delicate tortoiseshell hair ornamentations, 10-inch-high ‘geta’ sandals and the white face make-up for which geisha are famed.
With a bit of luck you’ll also see a hooded rickshaw and black-clad puller with his distinctive wide brimmed hat and split-toed tabi shoes transporting one of these ethereal women to a nearby theatre or discreet teahouse. Squint your eyes and it looks like a scene from the 17th century.
Take the Ginza or Toei Asakusa subway lines - alight Asakusa station. If you feel like being more romantic take a boat-trip from Hinode Pier or the Hamu Rikyu gardens along the Sumida river alighting at Azumabashi bridge.
For more information about Tokyo's geisha district see www.asakusa-e.com
Asakusa Information centre (2-18-9 Kaminarimon) has English speaking staff 10-8pm daily)
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