Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on February 2010
Until now, Tokyoites could experience the fabled hospitality of geisha only at very expensive ryotei restaurants in the roku kagai (“six flower districts”) of Shimbashi, Akasaka, Yoshicho (Nihombashi), Kagurazaka, Asakusa and Mukojima. But a new foreigner-friendly event series brings geisha and other traditional artisans to a wider audience—at a fair price. The Omotenashi Experience features performers ranging from shinnai singer-storytellers to daikagura dancers in a supper show that includes a gourmet bento and sake to match. After the performance, guests can relax, chat and take pictures with geisha entertainers. The food menu focuses on otsumami bites that go well with sake, like tetori hanpen (steamed minced-fish cake) and anago tsukudani (boiled eel with soy), all provided by local shops that have specialized in the dishes for generations. The shows, which take place every other Saturday from 6-7:30pm at the Tokyo Kimono Club in Nihombashi (2-3-16 Nihombashi-Muromachi, Chuo-ku), feature a rotating cast of performers.
Feeling confused about Omotenashi? Read this critique of the omotenashi concept to get a clearer idea of what all the fuss is about.