Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Summer Stroll in Ponto Cho

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Hisano, a beautiful young maiko from Ponto-cho in her casual daytime yukata, sheilded from the scolding summer sun by a Japanese paper umbrella.

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Hisano strolls along the narrow alley known as Pontocho, the second largest traditional entertainment district in Kyoto, after Gion. Running 500 meters (0.3 miles), it is bordered on the east by the Kamo river and the Takase-gawa canal to the west.

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A clear sign the summer has come. More than 80 of Pontocho's restaurants, bars, and other establishments set up wooden balconies on stilts over the canal on the west bank of the Kamo River, between Nijo Street and Gojo Street.

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The famous Kamo River has been the backdrop of the Geisha and Maiko of Kyoto since the mid 17th century, when the first tea houses of Gion and Pontocho sprang up. Summer is the perfect chance to enjoy dinner by the cool, clear waters of the Kamagawa.

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The mountains fade into blue as your eye follows the path of the river downstream, until its hard tell where the mountains end and the clouds begin

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Pontocho's mon (crest) adorns the bright red lanterns that line the narrow alleyway, bringing a soft glow to magical evenings among the old buildings, illuminating ephemeral glimpses of geiko and maiko as they disappear into the night. The chidori is a small bird known as a plover, often spotted along the banks of the Kamogawa.


Jess said...

Hey Melissa!

Thanks for checking out my blog and for your message. I am from New Zealand. I have been in Japan since April this year, so just over 5 months now! Time really flies! It's not my first time here (6th actually...) so i haven't had much homesickness/culture shock. I actually went to Gifu when I came to Japan as a representative for my university in 2000. We stayed in a ryokan in Takayama. It was really nice. Gotta say I love inaka Japan waaay more than the city! Fantastic new post, btw. I love everything about Geisha. Hopefully I can get to Kyoto before I go home and dress up as a maiko!

zbjernak said...

isnt tht lady in the yukata lovely??

and the picture really somehow does bring back one to the old times if japan....girl in kimono...paper umbrella...wooden shop...narrow alley

lovely lovely...

and the cafe,restaurants on stilt....tht is so cozy....

Joel Alfaro said...

Are those all your photographs? Theyre beautiul! I love photography myself, I added you to msn, hope you didnt block me.

bingo and betty said...

excellent blog, and master Z is here!!!!!

Melissa said...

Jess: You've been here 6 times? You must be ペラペラ by now! Takayama is one of Japan's best kept secrets! It feels a llittle like Kyoto, without all the tourists! Did you go to Shirakawagou, the traditional gasshou-zukuri A-frame houses? I am obsessed with Geisha! I finally dressed up like a maiko for hanami in Kyoto this April...If you want I can give you the info for the studio! You can check out the pix in my archives...I think I put it up in June.

zbjernak: She is stunning! I think she looks even more beautiful without her white makeup. I think the reason I enjoy Kyoto so much is because its easy to feel like you've experienced old Japan, if only for a moment. I love seeing the yuka set up along the river...The Kamogawa looks so lonely without them in the fall and winter.

Joel: Yes, I took all the photos on this site! :) I love photography, but Im just an amateur! If I ever get a decent camera...Hope I get to talk to you soon!

Master Z: Oideyasu! (Thats Kyoto dialect for Welcome!)