After struggling for the two previous nights to meet people I did not have high expectations for my last night in Kyoto. I ate dinner at an Italian restaurant and ended up have a long conversation with the man next to me who served as my interpreter. I told him about how difficult it can be for a foreigner to meet people here and that I had only been able to find a reggae bar that was interesting so he said to check out a bar called Rocking Chair.
Later on that night I set out to find Rocking Chair, which turned out to be a small place on a secluded street. When I walked in I felt underdressed immediately since it was a classy place, but I decided I might as well give it a try and took a seat at the bar. I ended up conversing with two sixty year old Japanese women sitting next to me who were very nice and asking me what I thought of Kyoto. As I was getting ready to leave, one of the women said she wanted to take me to her friends bar to have a real Kyoto experience, an offer I accepted graciously.
We left Rocking Chair and walked about 10 minutes to the Gion district, a very traditional part of town. We eventually arrived at a nondescript door with a red lantern hanging on the outside and went in, but not before taking off our shoes in the foyer. There was only one other group of people in the place and I was immediately drawn to the fact that two of them were geisha women there in full getup which includes a bright kimono, many hair pieces, red lipstick and most notably their faces painted white.
We sat down and I was introduced to the bar owner, another women who was high school friends with the two women I came in with. All of them repeatedly were saying how lucky I was to be here and to see a geisha and that no foreigners ever come here (something that everybody I have since told agrees with). As the night went on we drank and talked about various things from traditional Japanese culture, to Google Glass and eventually was teaching them about music playing Bob Marley, Jimmy Hendrix and the Rolling Stones for them.
I have to say without a doubt this was one of the most interesting and unique experiences I have ever had traveling. Despite being some of the most different types of people in the world, our group had an amazing night sharing stories and interests and reminds me why I enjoy traveling so much.