Not keeping well the past couple of days, it was not very pleasant to be in bed all the time. I usually keep fit so the sudden fever, cold and cough totally caught me unawares. I utilized the time by reading when I had the strength. I just finished the “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden. It is a totally engrossing novel and very well researched. Being set in Gion district in Kyoto, it brought back memories of my visit to this part of Kyoto in August 2005.
I had a long day walking and shooting pictures as usual and since all the beautiful temples closed around 4:30 pm, I decided to see if I would be lucky to see a Geisha or an apprentice-Geisha. I had heard of the famous Geisha district of Gion and about how one might see a Geisha rushing to an engagement in Gion. When I reached this street called Hanami-koji, I felt as if I had been transported to another world altogether, devoid of flashy neon signs with beautiful traditional Japanese architecture of teahouses with paper screens and wood. I walked up and down carrying my heavy camera bag but it didn’t seem that I would be lucky to see a Geisha that night.
About Hanami-koji…Shimogama-san told me – “koji means street,hana is flower,mi is seeing”. Among the interesting people I met in Hanami-koji were Shimogama-san and his steady, Sukada-san who were visiting from Kobe. They were taking pictures of each other using a cell phone and seeing them in traditional yukata, I wanted to photograph them too. Both of them loved the pictures I sent them. In the picture, Sukada-san looks lovely in the light of a paper lamp hanging outside a teahouse.
I also met Yurika-san and Yuka-san who I photographed with their camera. Then, I asked if I could also take their photograph. It turned out that they were friends of Sukada-san. As I was changing to a wide-angle lens to take a picture of them, suddenly the screen-door to the teahouse opened and there stood a lovely Geisha, looking flustered to find me sitting on the door, changing a lens. I was stunned too and by the time I recovered to ask her permission to take a picture, she was gone. Uhhh….I missed it!
Anyways, I walked quite a bit more and then, I saw a Geisha and a Maiko (apprentice-Geisha) walking with a patron of theirs. Lot of young girls were excitedly trying to take a picture of them with small cell-phones and ofcourse, they missed it. The patron saw those girls and asked the Geishas to stop for a picture for them. They stopped since the patron had asked them but now, their beautiful smiles were not visible for the camera. I also took a couple of pictures of them before they walked away. As they walked, their smiles were back. One day, I’ll get to photograph a smiling Geisha too.
If you have a chance, read – “Memoirs of a Geisha” – you might like it. And, if reading does not interest you, see the movie based on the novel which is out in the theaters.
Talking of theaters, let’s see when I get to post the pics of the dance troupe from Osaka that I took at National Theater of Japan in Tokyo.
I love experiencing different cultures and must say, I loved Japan!