Geisha beer garden opens in Kyoto

It's an attraction that would seem more at home in the middle of Munich or Frankfurt than the ancient Japanese city of Kyoto, but the new Geisha Beer Garden is likely to be a hit for both geisha and tourists during the hot Japanese summer.

The garden, which is open from July until September, is shattering the traditional image of the geisha, with the robed hostesses serving ice-cold beers in steins instead of green tea in petite cups.

Set in the surroundings of the Kamishichiken Kaburenjo Theatre, the beer garden contains the long tables normally found in German beer halls and will also serve traditional snacks.

Maiko and geisha from the Kagai hanamachi, the oldest geisha district in northwest Kyoto, will be on hand to serve customers and perform dances on the specially-erected stage every night.

Beers cost 950 yen ($A12.15) and a starter pack, available for 1,800 yen ($A23.22), includes a mug of beer and two snacks.

Beer gardens have been a surprisingly successful export for Germany and can now be found around the world from New York to Melbourne, London to Beijing.

Reports suggest that next week, the much anticipated Bier International will open its doors in Harlem, New York.

Owners say that their new garden will be Harlem's first beer garden since Prohibition, serving ten different types of beer on tap.