My question was soon answered as Matthew and I, or rather I, stalked the Gion Corner in search of geisha between 5-6:30 when they are usually on their way to their first appointment. Matthew coined the term "Geisha-razzi"; and that is exactly what I was. I was obsessed, on an almost-lifelong goal to witness geisha in action. Yes, I saw three at the Temple the other day, but I wanted more, it is like an addiction. I want MORE!
I got more. I saw 4 meiko. But the times were so fleeting. It is like, as a 5-year-old seeking out Cinderella in Disneyworld; it is a fantasy for me. The meiko we saw are stunning. I wish I could freeze time and simply stare at them. But they all quickly turned the corner, ducked into a tea house, or as I found out, into an awaiting black cab. Yes. Geisha take cabs. The girls (meiko are under 20) are unmistakable with white faces, red-cornered eyes- a jingle when the walk (from their hair ornaments) and platform sandles. And when I say platform, I mean like 6-inched, angled wooden flip-flops. I do not know how they do it. And with such grace!
I was debating whether to get the "geisha experience" dressing up as one. But seeing one in the flesh, I was happy with my decision not to be a poser. A) I'm not Asian and
B) It's too hot, although posers wear cotton, not authentic silk kimonos.
C) I'm not a geisha, they are in a league of their own.
Our entire day was quite magical, from start to geisha to end.
With limited time left in Kyoto, we had to make some cuts. The Golden Pavilion and the Fashima Inari did not make it. Arashiyama did. It is in western Kyoto, an hour or so from where we are staying and it had the most bang for our buck: a bamboo grove, a temple and private grounds. The Tenryu-ji Buddhist Temple and gardens were a nice stroll
and we strolled seamlessly into Bamboo Road. It is a walkway through a Bamboo Grove with an eerie, magical quality to it.
This stroll backed up to Okochi Sanso, the estate of a Japanese actor known for his samurai films. It includes a nice strolling garden
and a tea house among the bamboo grove where we stopped for some green tea and some cake bite.
Again, I was in a constant state of glisten; at times downright sweating. It was so hot people were walking with hand-held mini-fans. After all our strolling we wanted to sit in a/c and eat. But the place we found only served tofu sets, so we excused ourselves and got french fries. We were wondering why the donut place was not open in the morning, but was in afternoon. It's dessert! And it was exactly what we needed mid-afternoon: donuts with ice cream and sauce. I had cocoa with maple syrup, Matthew black sesame and dark sugar.
K made dinner reservations for us and again, escorted us there. We returned after our successful Geisha Watch.
The Mame-cha: Kyoto Obanzai restaurant was a 13 seat counter. We took off our shoes and joined the packed, rowdy crowd. We ordered the Pork set menu for 2 and a bottle of Rose. Then a bottle of sake...It was 8 courses, starting with a 'Obanzai' box of traditional Kyoto family food - tofus, fish, eggplant, then sashimi, funky and airy egg soufflé, tempura fish and vegetables, radish salad, grilled pork with Balsamic-like vinegar, rice and some sweet thing. The nice man next to us, who knew all about Cape Cod and JFK, offered us a bite of his tofu "free of charge" and bought us another dessert. He also complimented Matthew on his chopstick skills. "Her... Eh"
Not that we needed to, we went to the Sherry Club, an 8-person bar that, upon entering, we found out is in the Guinness Book of World Records for most variety of Sherry. We appreciated the test tubes and graph to show different variances of dry/sweet and light/heavy.
Last night we learned from our pizza-place guy that o-kee-nee is how Kyotans say thank you. Ar-ee-gah-toh is too formal. Well every time we thanked anyone with okeenee today we got joyous laughter and surprise.