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.



  1. Randy

    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.


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

  2. nils

    If you want a first hand “view”…

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

  3. Jerry

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

  4. Kathryn

    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.”

  5. juliet

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

    Love the webcams


  6. April

    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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