Recently opened in November 2017 is one of Fukuoka’s newest tourist attractions, the Hakata Traditional Performing Arts Centre. Now you can experience the traditional beauty of Japan’s geisha culture right here in the conveniently located Hakata neighborhood! In Hakata, geisha are known as geigi, and you can now experience the local geigi artists’ traditional culture for yourself from these newly opened facilities.

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The facilities are located directly across from the entrance to the famous Kushida Shrine, affectionately known by the locals as “O-kushida-san”.

Before you go:

Seeing as performances are not held every day, you should check the centre’s official website before you go to make sure there is a performance when you plan to visit. Although tickets are available for purchase at the door, some performances may sell out so it is always a good idea to purchase your tickets in advance just to be safe. The centre even accepts payment via PayPal.

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The interior of the building is decorated with kimono obi (sashes) on display. In fact, these obi sashes exhibit the unique local hakataori woven design, one of the three main traditional embroidery techniques in Japan. The intricate nature of this unique local technique is sure to catch your eye!

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Even the walls are adorned with the hatakaori motif!

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The stage area is lined with tatami mats, so be sure to take off your shoes before you enter. Once you make your way to your seat you will find some of these.

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These are called shamoji, or rice paddles. They are usually used for stirring and serving rice, so what are they doing here?

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And now it’s showtime! First up is the “Hakata Dontaku”, the traditional local dance of the Hakata neighborhood.

You will notice that the dancers are also holding shamoji. Hakata Dontaku is said to have its origins in a new year’s festival called Hakata Matsubayashi. Legend has it that years ago, several housewives who were in the middle of preparing dinner were swept away by the excitement of the Matsubayashi Festival and simply could not resist joining in by sounding their shamoji, a tradition which continued to grow in popularity ever since. This is said to be the origin of the tradition of sounding shamoji together as part of the traditional Hataka Dontaku dance. By the way, the name Dontaku is said to come from the Dutch word “zondag”, meaning “Sunday” and “holiday”, and was incorporated into the Japanese language as dontaku.

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We also got the chance to try dancing along with the dancers – this unique opportunity to get up close and personal with the dancers is one of the great things the Hakata Traditional Performing Arts Centre has to offer.

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Finally the time has come for the geigi dance. This time the dance is performed by the small, elite local geigi dance troupe, the “Hakata Geigi”.

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Geigi are actually known by different names in different parts of the country – they are also known as geisha or geiko in other areas, but in the Hakata area they have come to be known as geigi.

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After taking in the beautiful dance performance you can enjoy a traditional geisha game of ozashiki asobi with the geigi. It is actually pretty hard so the game can get quite heated!

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And last but not least, the performance comes to a close with a question and answer session and photo opportunity. This is your chance to ask the geigi anything you’d like about their art – it isn’t every day that you get the chance to talk to a real, live geisha in person, so be sure to take advantage of this opportunity!

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Come and check out the Hakata Traditional Performing Arts Centre, one of Fukuoka’s newest attractions. You’ll be glad you did!

The Hakata Traditional Performing Arts Centre

Official website
https://hakata-geinou.jp/en/
Address
Reisenmachi 2-20, Hakata-ku, Fukuoka-shi, Fukuoka-ken
How to get there
By subway: About a 5-minute walk from subway stations Gion and Nakasu-Kawabata
By bus: About a 5-minute walk from the Kawabata-machi Hakataza-mae bus stop
About a 2-minute walk from Canal City Hakata-mae bus stop
TEL
+81-92-441-1118
Opening hours
Varies according to performance schedule
Closed
Varies according to performance schedule
Credit cards
Accepted for online reservations only

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