Tips for KYOTO

Ichigen-san Okotowari: No drop-in casual visitors without an invitation

Some high-class restaurants and ochaya (where customers are entertained by maiko and geiko over dinner) accept only customers who have an invitation from their regular customers.

Is there still this conventional system called “Ichigen-san Okotwari (No drop-in casual visitors without an invitation)”?

Yes.  High-class restaurants and ochaya accept only customers who have invitations from their regular customers.  Why does such a system exist?  The most important reason is that they have a deferred payment custom.  The customer doesn’t know the night’s expenses and doesn’t pay the fee on the day.  The ochaya sends the invoice some time later and the customer accepts it.  This is only based on the trust between the ochaya and customers that is established over-time based on their relationship.  Another reason is that the high-class restaurants and ochaya wish to offer perfect service to every customer so that they accept only patrons whose preferences and character they already know.

Written by : Shinobu Nakai Translation to English by AD BRAIN INC.