How to Learn Tokyo's Geisha Etiquette: Ozashiki Asobi (Entertainment) in Kagurazaka

How to Learn Tokyo's Geisha Etiquette: Ozashiki Asobi (Entertainment) in Kagurazaka


How to Learn Tokyo's Geisha Etiquette: Ozashiki Asobi (Entertainment) in Kagurazaka

The Flow of Ozashiki Asobi (Entertainment)



Most restaurants in Kagurazaka strictly adhere to the policy of not accepting first-time visitors, so it's common to make reservations through introductions. However, contacting us will also facilitate your reservation.

Arrival Time:

It's desirable to arrive at the restaurant slightly before or after the reservation time. Arriving too early may disrupt the preparation for hospitality, such as the ritual of offering water. The water ritual often takes place 5-10 minutes before the reservation time.
How to Learn Tokyo's Geisha Etiquette: Ozashiki Asobi (Entertainment) in Kagurazaka

At the Entrance:

Japanese traditional restaurants usually have two doors. If there are previous guests, it's customary not to open the second door and wait. You can leave your shoes on, as there's no need to arrange them yourself. Leaving your shoes on implies respect as they point toward the restaurant's direction, symbolizing a ship's arrival to the harbor, which is considered auspicious.


When visiting a traditional restaurant, avoid going barefoot or wearing stockings. Since the rooms have tatami flooring, wear socks. Long pants that cover the legs are preferable over shorts, and long socks that cover the calves are recommended.
How to Learn Tokyo's Geisha Etiquette: Ozashiki Asobi (Entertainment) in Kagurazaka

Conversation with Geisha:

When interacting with geisha, there's no need to use formal language even on the first meeting. Avoid asking the geisha about their age.

Start of Ozashiki Asobi (Entertainment)

  1. Once everyone is seated in the banquet room, each geisha greets guests individually and presents a business card called "Senja-fuda." The banquet starts with the geisha serving drinks like beer. It's important to note that the geisha pours drinks, so self-pouring is prohibited. While some guests may prefer drinking whiskey or shochu directly from the glass, having the geisha serve adds to the communication and enhances the experience.

  2. Dishes are served in sequence, and guests enjoy conversations with the geisha. As the atmosphere becomes more relaxed when the grilled dish is served, the geisha start entertaining by performing arts (Ozashiki wo Tsukeru), typically showcasing dances suitable for the season performed by young geisha in order of seniority, concluding with a finale song called "Sawagi," incorporating lyrics unique to the geisha district.

  3. After lively discussions and games, typically enjoyed around the time when everyone is feeling a bit tipsy, many banquets engage in "Ozashiki games." These games, often simple and requiring no special equipment, can range from innocent to suggestive, reflecting the distinctiveness of the geisha world. The rule is usually 'drink if you lose (penalty).' The skill of the geisha in hosting adds to the enjoyment, often leading to much excitement over seemingly trivial games. Representative games: 'Toratora' (Tiger Tiger), 'Konpira Fune Fune' (Konpira Ship), 'Omawarisan' (The Policeman), 'Meiwaku Ken' (Nuisance Fist), 'Tosenkyo' (Fan Tossing) and more.

  4. As spirits rise from the games, guests sometimes entertain with their own traditional songs or witty anecdotes, accompanied by the geisha's shamisen performance.

  5. Finally, after the meal and dessert, the banquet concludes. In Kagurazaka, it's customary to present a congratulatory gift (money) to the geisha by placing it in an envelope tucked into the collar. The customary gift amount ranges from ¥5,000 to ¥10,000 per person. The geisha and the okami (female manager) see off the guests to the entrance, signaling the end of the banquet.

How to Learn Tokyo's Geisha Etiquette: Ozashiki Asobi (Entertainment) in Kagurazaka
The above outlines the typical flow of events at traditional restaurants in Kagurazaka. Ensuring the guests' comfort and satisfaction is paramount, so each restaurant offers banquets tailored to individual preferences. It's crucial to communicate any specific requests in advance.

Inviting guests to a post-banquet gathering is acceptable. However, since there's a time limit, inviting guests to the after-party means covering additional charges for the time (hana-dai), food and drinks, and transportation. The customary fee for the time is approximately ¥15,000 per person per hour.

How to Learn Tokyo's Geisha Etiquette: Ozashiki Asobi (Entertainment) in Kagurazaka

Let's Learn Tokyo's Geisha Etiquette and Enjoy Ozashiki Asobi (Entertainment) Sincerely in Kagurazaka

The most important aspect of enjoying the traditional restaurant experience is compiling oneself confidently and graciously as a guest. Being overly self-conscious may make the restaurant staff and geisha uncomfortable. It's essential to balance decorum and relaxation to enjoy the experience fully. Let's learn Tokyo's Geisha etiquette and enjoy Ozashiki Asobi (Entertainment) sincerely in Kagurazaka.
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