The first of Kyoto’s annual spring geisha performances, Kitano Odori is performed by the geiko (the Kyoto word for geisha) and maiko (apprentice geiko) of the Kamishichen district. The show typically has three parts: a short play, a series of dances, and the finale — the Kamishichiken Serenade.
The Kamishichiken Serenade, which features all the geiko and maiko dancers of the district on the stage together, is considered the highlight. During this final act, the geiko wear striking black kimono while, in contrast, the maiko wear bold, bright color.
The Kitano Odori was first performed in 1952, as part of an anniversary celebration for the founding of nearby Kitano Tenmangū Shrine, which was established in the 10th century. It’s been staged annually ever since.
Kitano Odori 2023
Performances, which last 80 minutes, will be held at the Kamishichiken Kabukai twice daily, at 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.
Note that the tea ceremony with geiko and maiko starts one hour before the performance and costs ¥1,000 extra, but if you arrive late, they will prepare a small gift for you instead.
Tickets for Kitano Odori cost ¥6,000 and go on sale from January 10, 2023. Purchase them online (in Japanese) or from JTB travel agencies (until the day of the event).
Tickets can also be purchased:
- From the tourist information center on the 2nd floor of Kyoto Station (up to a week before the performance date and until the day of the event).
- Direct from the theater box office (until three days before the performance date and until the day of the event).
Geiko and maiko performances in Kyoto
Every spring and fall, Kyoto’s hanamachi (geisha districts) put on public dance performances. In our opinion, this is the best way to see the city’s iconic performing artists for a (comparatively) reasonable price. And is much politer than trying to photograph them on the street paparazzi-style.
Other performances on the annual calendar include:
To learn more about geiko and maiko, as well as recommendations for additional events and experiences, check out our complete guide to seeing geisha in Kyoto.Organizers may cancel events, alter schedules, or change admission requirements without notice. Always check official sites before heading to an event.