New Geisha Beer Garden Toasts Kyoto's Cultural Heritage

New geisha beer garden toasts Kyoto's cultural heritageGeisha and their "maiko" apprentices were on hand to serve up cold glasses of beer on a hot summer’s night on July 31 to celebrate the opening of a new beer garden in the ancient capital's Higashiyama Ward.

The party for specially invited guests took place a day before the purpose-built beer garden opened on Aug. 1. It is the first to open in 36 years next to the Kaburenjo theater in the Miyagawa-cho district, one of Kyoto’s five "Kagai” geisha quarters.

The project was organized after the city selected traditional Kagai culture this year as part of its “Connecting-Kyoto: Preserving an Intangible Cultural Heritage” program.

The beer garden is being hosted by the Miyagawa-cho Ochaya tea house association and Miyagawa-cho regional development group, which consists of community members and neighborhood associations.

Limited seating is available at the beer garden open between 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. through Aug. 15. The maiko will cater to customers and perform traditional dances on a nearby stage. Chefs from 13 Japanese and Western restaurants will take turns cooking the dishes. An event using 130 lanterns to illuminate the entire district is also scheduled to be held during the same period.