Fumiyoshi san, Maiko in Miyagawa-Cho, Kyoto, Japan

“Winner 1st Prize of the US Popular Photography Magazine monthly photo contest of Feb 2015”

Every day, between 5 and 6 pm, the Maiko (apprentice Geisha) walk from their home (Okiya) to the tea house (Ochaya) where they’ll work for the evening.  Miyagawa-Cho is one of the five traditional Geisha districts of Kyoto (花街 – Hanamachi or Kagai, which literally means “flower town”).

The whole district has been renovated, but the tradition remains unchanged. These few minutes offer a travel in time that is very special to me.

 

Capturing such a photo or something similar is quite easy.  You just have to be at the right time at the right place with the right equipment and the right idea in mind. Of course, some basic technique or experience may come in handy.  And then a touch of luck – like the fact that the Maiko (apprentice Geisha) walking by is wearing a blue overcoat that fits well with the general orange tone of the scene. Some knowledge of the area and of the tradition of the Geisha world of Kyoto is also helpful.

Its night.  It’s very cold.  I know more or less from where the geisha will come from and where she’ll be walking by. It was already night and dark, and the only light available was from the small lanterns each of the tea houses lining up the street has next to its door. I positioned myself near one of these light sources, waiting, after setting my canera’s lens to hyperfocal distance. And I waited. I am lucky that today’s technology allows us to take photos in the dark, simply boosting up the ISO.