Right at the entrance of the Hanami-koji street from Gion, the famous Kyoto district of geiko (geisha in the Kyoto dialect), you will find the most famous geisha tea house (ochaya), the Ichiriki Chaya. Established over 300 years ago, this ochaya is also one of the oldest tea houses and it became famous because the leader of the Forty-seven Ronin, Oishi Kuranosuke, spent here several nights to deceive the potential spies. A Kabuki play about this event became a huge success and since the ochaya was featured in the play, it soon became famous throughout Japan.
It is said that the original name was Yorozuya (written 万屋), but since in the play the first kanji was split as 一 (ichi) and 力 (riki), the owners decided to change the name…
The fame of Ichiriki Chaya became recently international, after the success of Arthur Golden’s book “Memoirs of a Geisha", because most of the action takes place here. Interestingly, since this is one of the most exclusive places in Kyoto and the access is strictly invitation-only, it seems that the author never visited this place - the owners denied knowing him…
Yesterday’s Japan Photo: