Greetings From Kyoto! The Geisha Shot

“She’s right behind you!” I whispered.

“Yeah, I know,” she replied sarcastically.

I was surprised when my sister didn’t reach for her camera or turn around immediately to get the photo she had been talking about all trip.  But, I figured she had a plan.

That day we had walked all over Kyoto and I was done.  We had taken a 4 day trip to Japan and Nancy had made sure that we saw everything there was to see in Tokyo and Kyoto – which meant walking for days.. I tried to convince her to give up the goal – which was to photograph a Geisha, or Geiko as they are known in Kyoto.

“Not everyone gets to see a Geiko when they come to Kyoto.  It’s very rare to see one especially since we only have one night.”

“I don’t care,” she replied.  “We’re here so we might as well try.”

An hour before, we had been navigating the crowds in the Gion Street district.  This was very disappointing because the only geishas we saw there were imposters, tourists playing dress up.  And there were a lot of them.  I was pretty sure if we did see a Geisha on that street – she would be mobbed.

Our guide told us about another area called Miyagawa-cho, and then left us for the night.  We made our way to this very small and deserted narrow alley which had traditional tea houses on both sides.  Very old world Japan, a beautiful street – and the only people we saw were a few shop owners talking.  We kept walking and passed a group of 8-10 tourists who looked like paparazzi with their massive zoom lens cameras around their necks.  They kept going the other direction and we were the only ones on the street again.  That’s when our Geiko appeared.  I am not sure how long she had been behind us – must have only been a minute or two after the camera group was out of sight.  I turned around and was startled – not expecting anyone to be so close behind us – much less the person we had been searching for.

As soon as I saw her and told my sister, the Geiko – or in this case an apprentice called a  Maiko, stealthily passed us and walked down the street.  She was so fast for taking such tiny steps!  My sister – who didn’t believe me but luckily had her camera ready and was able to get a few pictures.  We decided not to run after the Maiko like paparazzi – after all, who wants people shoving a camera in your face when you are just heading off to work?  We just hoped that one of the shots turned out.  This is definitely my favorite travel photograph.  It is so mysterious and the rickshaw that turned the corner at exactly the right moment made it even better.

“See, sometimes the perfect picture is right behind you.”  My sister’s words of wisdom.



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