Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Geisha Watching in Kyoto

Peter Macintosh, photographer
While in Kyoto, we chanced upon the opportunity to take a walking tour of the Geisha area with Canadian photographer Peter Macintosh. Our tour was quite enjoyable, and educational. Apparently, in Kyoto, the geisha refer to themselves as geiko. The term geisha means artist or person of the arts; the term geiko means a child of the arts or woman of the arts.

Our stroll started in front of the Kabukiza (Kabuki) theatre located by the Higashi-Ginza metro stop. We started walking in what felt like a neighborhood, and continued through to the most popular Geisha area in Kyoto, called the Gion.

On route, we met a young geisha-in-training. They are called Maikos. She was 15 years old. Here she is.

15 year old Maiko
Typically, a Maiko will study for approximately five years. This is the school where the young women are trained in various Japanese arts including flower arranging, the tea ceremony, playing of musical instruments, dance, etc.

Here is a boarding house where some geisha live. You can see the names of each girl displayed above the door.

Typically, one would sight a geisha in the early evening, going to work, generally in an Ochaya (or tea house). We were fortunate enough to have one spotting. Here she is. My shots aren’t perfect, as there were many people wanting photos, so you had to deal with that. Click on the shot to see a larger version.

A geiko crossing the street
And here are a few more shots, while walking.. probably not geisha, but still interesting.

And here is the Gion at night.

All in all, a fascinating experience.
Check out Peter's website below. He specializes in photographing Geisha. He was married to a Geisha, so he knows more than the average person of how their life works.

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