Maiko (apprentice geisha) in Matsubara, Kyoto

This is basically what you see around my mother-in-law’s house, especially in the evening. Maiko coming and going from their assignations, popping in and out of teahouses, dormitories and taxis. It’s a little hard to fathom, but this is not some retro-kitsch. This is the way it has always been here. I took this picture yesterday. Mama’s house in previous generations was a sake shop supplying the surrounding ocha-ya (teahouses). Actually, there is some retro-kitsch, because there are shops where you can dress up like a geisha and take a guided tour, so some tourists might take pictures of them by mistake, though you can sometimes see a guide carrying a sign that says these are not real maiko. Some kind of deal struck under pressure from the neighborhood merchants association, I suspect.

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  1. nils says:

    Peter Macintosh offers tours, and is the man to talk to if you want to get inside a real teahouse.

  2. Randy says:

    If you want a first hand “view” of Gion Kobu, take a look at Geisha, a Life by Mineko Iwasaki – was a good book from the eyes of one who lived the life of a geiko.

    JM2C,
    Randy

    Personally I’m extremely jealous of where you’re currently living! :)

  3. nils says:

    If you want a first hand “view”…

    Or I could just ask Peter’s wife what it was like. She’s pretty funny.

  4. Randy says:

    Ah, I had to settle for the book – this yank has almost not change of getting over to Kyoto for a tour… :(

  5. anonymous says:

    Such a beautiful maiko! I’m jealous of both of you!

  6. Jerry says:

    It was always nice to see them around Pontocho and Gion. Never actually approached them to talk; wish I had. Ah, well. Good times.

  7. Kathryn says:

    I just want a chance to try building that hair style! I can’t seem to find any books on it at the library or on amazon. Are there any?

    Oh and those geta are so neet, I read that they have bells in them. It would give a little moresubstance to the old fraise, “I’ll be there with bells on.”

  8. juliet says:

    And is there a chance one can participate in the joya if only arriving on the afternoon of the 31st?

    Love the webcams

    J

  9. April says:

    I was lucky enough to visit Gion Kobu last November. I was even luckier to see 2 geisha and 1 maiko. The real thing! One geiko was kind enough to pose for my photo when I asked her. I was on cloud 9! My Japanese friend who was with me told me not to get my hopes up about seeing geisha that night!I was extremely lucky and was certainly a highlight of my trip.

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