Friday, October 20, 2006

Kyoto: Where My Heart Belongs

Almost Famous: Kotoha, A young, high rank maiko named Kotoha makes her to the big party at the Ichiriki teahouse after the main procession of Yamahoko Junko last July.

I'm headed to Kyoto for Jidai Matsuri: The Festival of Ages. I haven't been to Kyoto since July(way too long) but here are some of the photos I took during the summer and never got around to sharing. Enjoy!

A young, first year maiko on her way to an appointment during Gion Matsuri. Geiko still use traditional, oiled paper umbrella in the rain and snow. This was my first time actually seeing a maiko or geiko use one. Breath-taking. This is also the first image taken with my new camera (^-^)/ I'm still learning how to use it. Non-stop pouring rain + fast moving maiko = a great learning experience! The blur helps conveys the hustle and bustle of the crowded street, the young maiko rushing through the crowd to her appointment, and the dreary, dripping rain. It looks ethereal, like a scene from a dream, which is exactly the way I felt when I shot it.

Eyes Wide Closed: Gion. A geiko making her daily communte through the streets of Gion. Geiko wear wigs called katsura, with almost no ornamentation (compared to maiko, who style their own hair, which is adorned with many kanzashi, or flowered ornaments). Of course she blinked the exact moment I pressed the shutter, but what a perfect face.

A young geiko waiting outside the Ichiriki Teahouse in Gion with her client. Customers pay about $200 dollars an hour for the privledge of spending time with geiko (kyoto dialect for geisha), but having money is not the only requirement. Customers must have a relationship with an ochaya, a place where geiko entertain, in order to make an appointment, and being introduced to an ochaya is no simple task. The refined manners of Kyoto dictate that charging a customer at the end of the night is a no-no. With bills often running past 5,000$ a night, Ochaya must have a relationship based on trust, so that they can rest assured that the bills that they send to their customers once a month will be paid.

Two maiko make their way through the busy streets of Gion, sheltered from the sweltering summer sun by their umbrellas. Daytime casual: No white makeup, no heavy silk kimono. Just cotton yukata and lip gloss (^-^). I've never seen a maiko with a western umbrella before (right). Interesting. Also love the way the two older women watched them pass with awe, reverence and pride.

It is a Japanese custom for women to cover their mouths when smiling,laughing, and even sometimes, speaking. This young maiko was laughing as she talked with her friend, which is as she talked with her friend, which is why her hand is raised just so.

An older "sister", an accomplished and high ranking geiko, accompanying a few younger maiko, or apprentice geisha, to a tea ceremony held at the famous Ichiriki Teahouse. The way the older women on the right hold themselves, and the sensual way they touch themselves, even in such a casual way....

1 comment:

Lindizzy said...

you got a new camera? what kind? pics still look great!