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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