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GUIDE LIGHTS

Tips from the smartest guidebooks

 

JAPAN

Tokyo

 

Where the Geisha (Still) Are

Geisha are rare these days and most—but not all—chances to see them dance are costly

Rough Guide to Tokyo, 8th edition

“LESS THAN A century ago,” says the 8th edition of the Rough Guide to Tokyo, “geisha—female performers of traditional music and dance—were a common sight round certain areas of Tokyo.” Several city districts had quarters where geisha lived and entertained clients. Today, however, even in Mukojima, once the largest of these districts, the numbers are down substantially and “it’s thought that there are only around 600 geisha practicing their arts nationwide.” As a result, says the guidebook, “an audience with a geisha is far from being a cheap affair, costing in the region of ¥50,000 to ¥100,000.”

There are less costly opportunities to see geisha dance performances, though. Top hotels often have events during cherry blossom season (late March, early April) for ¥10,000 or less, and traditional theatres, including the Shimbashi Embujo (www.shinbashi-enbujo.co.jp, in Japanese only), sometimes host geisha shows. The tourist centre in Asakusa, a neighbourhood the guidebook says scores highly “for sheer charm,” sometimes has weekend performances. The centre is in front of Asakusa’s biggest attraction, Tokyo’s most venerable Buddhist temple, Senso-ji.

If you’re in town the third weekend in May, when Tokyo’s “most boisterous festival,” the Sanja Matsuri, takes place, you can see geisha for free during the festival’s parade through Asakura.

For those into cosplay, the Studio Geisha Café (www.geishacafe.jp) in the Ryogoku area “will doll you up with immaculate make-up for a photo-shoot; it’ll cost around ¥15,000.”

 

www.roughguides.com

 
 

BHUTAN

Thimphu

 

FRANCE

Villauris

 

MALAYSIA

George Town

 

MAURITIUS

Port Louis

 
 

NOTA BENE

A heads-up of what’s new and what’s coming

 
 

AUSTRIA

Vienna

 
23 November 2020
 

Beethoven’s 250th Birthday

 

Many planned events delayed, cancelled; go visit his homes instead

 

LUDWIG VAN Beethoven was supposed to have quite the 250th birthday party in 2020. Internationally, major events were scheduled as far from his hometown as Japan. Marin Alsop, music director of the symphony orchestras in Baltimore and Sao Paulo, had intended to conduct his Ninth Symphony in New Zealand, the United States, Brazil, England, Austria, Australia and South Africa. In Bonn, Germany, where Beethoven was born (baptized 17 December 1770), a year-long programme of 300 concerts, exhibitions, dance and theatre performances was planned. Vienna, where the composer spent most of his career, had a similarly impressive calendar set, including three staged versions of his opera Fidelio and special shows at the National Library, Leopold Museum and House of Music.

 

PERU

Cusco

 
16 November 2020
 

Machu Picchu Again Welcoming Visitors

 

Peru has reopened several Inca sites including its most popular, Machu Picchu

 

MACHU PICCHU, Peru’s most popular tourist destination, reopened 1 November 2020 after an eight-month shutdown due to covid-19. Used to receiving 1.5 million visitors a year, it has had its capacity reduced by 70 per cent to accommodate physical-distancing rules, limiting the number of daily sightseers to just 675, and no groups larger than eight. Everyone must have their temperature taken before entering and wear a mask throughout their visit.

 

SWITZERLAND

Montreux

 
15 November 2020
 

Secret Swiss Fortification Opens to the Public

 

Fort de Chillon, opposite 12th-century Château de Chillon, was part of WWII defences

 

FROM THE END of November 2020 the Swiss will open the defences carved into the rock opposite the 12th-century Château de Chillon during the Second World War. The tunnels and caverns were part of the “national redoubt,” a series of fortifications begun in the 1880s to defend Switzerland by denying an invader access to the country by controlling its mountain passes. The Fort de Chillon works were constructed in 1941-2, when the country was surrounded by Axis powers, as the system’s western gateway. It had a garrison of more than 100 soldiers.

 

ENGLAND

London

 
23 October 2020
 

Praise for Artemisia Gentileschi Exhibition

 

National Gallery’s first major show since covid-19 struck gets rave reviews

 

THE FIRST MAJOR exhibition at London’s National Gallery since covid-19 struck in March 2020 has opened to five-star reviews from the Telegraph, the Times, the Guardian, the Evening Standard and the BBC.

 
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DESTINATIONS

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AUSTRALIA

Port Arthur, TAS

Port Arthur a Pretty Site for Punishment 19th-century Australian penal colony retains charms, horrors
 

AUSTRALIA

Port Arthur, TAS

 
 

JAPAN

Tokyo

 
 

ST. HELENA

St. Helena

 
 

ECUADOR

Quito

 
 

GERMANY

Berlin

 
 

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