High School - Japan, High School Abroad

Part III: Gion, Geisha and Gourmet Cuisine

by Jes Stayton, Greenheart Travel High School Abroad participant

By this time I was pretty hungry, and ready for lunch.  First, however, we rode several buses.  One was so crowded there was barely room to move.  A piece of advice: if you ever have to get on a crowded bus, take your coat off first, even if it’s cold out.  You’ll regret it if you don’t.  The place where we ate lunch was a famous souffle soufflerestaurant.  We had to wait again, but it was worth it.  The souffles were delicious.  A souffle comes in a cup, but its one of those weird things that seem to exist on the borderline between drink and food, so it was surprisingly filling.  Mine was apple and cinnamon.  I liked it.

It was fairly late, so we went back to find the tour meeting spot.  My host family had nicely arranged for me to attend a tour of Gion in English.  I was very surprised and grateful, as I’ve always wanted to see Gion and learn more about geisha.  After finding the spot, we shopped a little bit, and I bought another pair of socks, (I love Japanese socks!) before rushing back to the tour meeting spot.  We were on time.  My host Aunt
Photo by Daniel Bachler

Photo by Daniel Bachler

and sister went back to the hotel, but my host mother went on the tour with me.  I enjoyed it very much.  We walked around Gion at night.  There were some ‘fake’ geisha (to use the tour guide’s wording), that is, Japanese women in beautiful makeup and kimonos who aren’t really geisha.  This was when I discovered that Gion was the area we wandered around the day before.  I was happy about that, because it meant I had already taken some pictures, and this meant I could enjoy the tour.  Taking pictures at night with my camera is also almost impossible.  The guide was very informative and spoke English quite well.  She told us quite a bit about Gion and the geisha in modern times, which was interesting.  Unsurprisingly, there were several references to the book Memoirs of a Geisha.  I was also very impressed with my host mother’s English.  She could understand everything the guide said.

The tour was one-way, ending at Gion corner.  We walked to the subway, and took the subway to the hotel bus stop.  When my host Aunt and sister got off the bus, we all walked to the restaurant together.  There was another small line, but I don’t think the restaurant was famous.  It wasn’t nearly as expensive as the other places we went to.  Whatever it was, the food was phenomenal.  I had something that I absolutely adored, which, on inquiry, turned out to be mackerel pike.  I hope I can have it again someday.  I know they have mackerel in America, so maybe also mackerel pike?  After dinner, we walked back to the bus stop, and took the bus back to the hotel.  Everyone went to bed relatively early, compared to the night before.  The next day, we woke up, packed our bags, and returned to Sendai.

About Greenheart Travel

CCI Greenheart Travel is personally invested in providing cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We achieve this by partnering with organizations and governments overseas that empower their local communities through experiential learning and practical development. We provide others with the same positive travel experiences in which we ourselves engage. Through travel and cultural exchange, we help individuals reach their full potential, leading to a more tolerant, peaceful and environmentally sustainable world.

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