Wachigaiya is usually closed to the public.
Shimabara was the only prestigious red-light district in Kyoto that was officially recognized by the Shogunate. Wachigaiya continues to operate today and is the only tea house/okiya in Japan that has its own Tayu. An okiya is like a production house where maiko and geiko are housed, trained, and dispatched. A tayu is the highest rank of geisha, who was the best in knowledge, dignity, and entertainment, and served as the companion of feudal lords and court nobles.
The building dates from the Edo period and is a cultural property of Kyoto City. The second floor is particularly beautiful (photos are not allowed). The novelty of ”Kasa no Ma” is that the washi paper of the Japanese umbrella that was actually used is pasted on the shoji screen. You can see elaborate designs such as the ”Autumn Leaves Room,” which is molded and colored using real maple leaves.
Nearby spots from Wachigaiya
The only surviving ageya, Sumiya, is open to the public. Advance reservations are required to tour the second floor.