Jan 13 Asakusa geisha & Akihabara

January 14, 2013 - Tokyo, Japan


On Sunday January 13th the whole group including all the Chusugi students and some staff and other people met in Tokyo's oldest intact section, Asakusa. An amazing shrine, Sensoji, is to be found there, along with the last surviving enclave of geisha left in Tokyo.  In its heyday this district boasted 80,000 geisha but today that number is less than 1,000.  After gathering in front of the Asakusa equivalent of the silver balls in Rundle mall (the famous Kaminarimon gate) we walked a short distance to the teahouse.  Once safely seated, we were served tea and traditional Japanese sweets as we watched a trainee geisha have her first lesson on a new dance, taught by one of the most senior Asakusa geisha.  This very rare opportunity was thanks to Sayuki, the only fully fledged foreign geisha, who kindly flew back to Tokyo fron Hokkaido with her trainee, just for our group.  As a profeesor in Anthropology at a Tokyo university, she is particularly good at explaining this somewhat mysterious profession in both English and Japanese.  So fluent is she that more than one Chusugi parent or teacher commented on the accuracy of her translations.

After a number of musical items, more dancing, some questions and the inevitable photos, it was time for lunch and some shopping. Mrs Westermann and Mrs Townsend went to check out the kimono shop, which unfortunately was up to 4 times more expensive than we were led to believe.  Luckily we discovered in time that it was the wrong shop, and soon everyone who wanted to buy a kimono was able to do so at Tansuya, the shop recommended by Sayuki san, where the prices were much more modest and the range more extensive and of a better quality.  Those who weren't interested in kimono went for a stroll through the nearby district specializing in the plastic food industry which provides food displays for the front of almost all Japanese restaurants.

This was followed by more shopping, in Akihabara, with literally thousands of shops of all kinds, but mostly electronics.  After yet another group photo, this time with the lights of Akihabara behind us, we all set off again, either for home or for a barbeque party.  All in all, another amazing day! Monday is a public holiday ("Comming of Age Day"), so everyone will spend time with their families.  A lot of snow has been predicted...

- Mrs Westermann !^_^!


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