There are things that I will look back on in 10 years and wonder, what was I doing? How did I get myself into that situation? Dressing like a geisha in Japan is going to be one of those occasions, because even now, I’m not sure how I got myself into it. But if you go to Japan, you should do it too.
But you should try to be more reverent than me.
You should also not try to pose provocatively or say weird things to the person with the camera.
You should be more demure. Otherwise your photos will all look like “Sassy Geisha Took a Walk” and not be at all convincing.
First off, I was the only foreigner at the geisha make-over center that day. I also was the only English-speaking person. It makes it more difficult let someone put white makeup all over you, including down your back.
But I’m a survivor!
After I was coated in white makeup, I went to get dressed. There were enormous closets full of kimonos to choose form. I chose red because I thought it would be the most flattering with my skin tone, which I forgot was totally white.
Before you get your kimono on, there is layer upon layer of fabric. You are basically wrapped up in a mix of cottons and silks like a broken arm is wrapped for a cast. Be prepared to feel a bit bulky and sticky from the makeup.
Yeah, it’s hot, I know.
Most places will then offer a series of photos.
Here’s the problem with this, I was wearing layers of fabric, looking like a sweet demure creature, then they put socks and sandals on me and I couldn’t walk.
Then I saw myself in the mirror and laughed so hard I cried.
The professional photos made me look like a psycho.
So I had a friend take some.
I looked like a psycho still.
Yep, still look like a psycho.
This one actually scares me a little.
But this one is better.
This is an activity you can book both in Kyoto or Tokyo and there are lots of options online. I went with Kyoto Maica in Kyoto because it was part of a national holiday and locals were dressing up too. It’s about $150 depending on the time of year, but it was totally worth it.
I also made a calendar out of some of my more edgy photos and gave them to family for Christmas, so you know, money well-spent.
Be prepared, you will be coated in white makeup and it will take a long time to wash off. You will also be wearing more layers than you ever have in your entire life.
Also, try to be more reverent than me.