Japan, Pentax k-1, Photography, Workshops
Comments 31


A final post from the Kyoto workshop. One evening we had a memorable few minutes that resulted from being in the right place at the right time, and a fair amount of luck.  The featured image at the top of the post may be my favorite of the trip. It is nice to get a shot that captures several  aspects of Kyoto life in a single frame.


Why luck? Because a maiko or geisha will prebook a taxi then wait for it to arrive.  You usually get a brief glimpse of them as they dart from a doorway into the taxi.


On this occasion, however,  a geiko and a maiko were stood waiting on the sidewalk for their taxi. Close by another geiko was talking into a mobile phone.  For three or four minutes they stood on the street, and unsurprisingly, drew stares from locals and tourists.


Finally the taxi arrived and the two geikos, followed by the maiko, got in and were whisked away.


Another memorable moment from a great Kyoto workshop. A big thank you to Ashley, Amanda, Mindy, Mina, Jessica and Christine for being such great company for the week. A huge thank you to Yuki for interpreting and making sure everyone survived the workshop with big smiles.



  1. Do you ever feel nervous or intrusive taking pictures this way? Or do you have the confidence to ask for permission first? (I had a bad moment once where I was upbraided for taking a picture of someone using an old-fashioned washing basin and it stayed with me for life.)

    • It depends on the situation. For most portraits I take, I prefer the subject to be close and looking directly into the lens. I’m pretty gregarious (and speak broken Japanese) so I say hello and have a brief chat to people first before I take their photograph. In the case of the maiko we photographed a couple of days before (scroll back a couple of blog posts) we had tea, chatted for 30 minutes and took photos both indoors and outdoors. With other maiko / geiko you may briefly encounter in Kyoto there are signs in Gion that show no touching of the maiko / geisha. Obviously you also don’t want to block their way as they are going about their business. If you don’t speak the language smile and gesture towards the camera. Most people smile and nod back, but in the case they scowl, shake their head or gesture no, I’d just smile, move on, and find something else to photograph.

      • I’ll look for the previous posts. Probably like many Westerners, I have a fascination with the Geisha culture. I attended a tea ceremony hosted here in the states and found it just impossible to image the dedication of mastering such a precise craft. Thank you for sharing the images.

  2. Pingback: An Unexpected Experience – The life of a placid writer

  3. Great pictures! Just a tip. I think it would be more interesting to write a bit of their life stories as a photojournalist would do. Have a little chat with the subjects by not being intrusive. That would add much color to the pictures (and to the writing as well). 🙂 But that’s understandable since they seem to be in a hurry by that time.

  4. Makes you see that we still live in the real world, no matter what happens on your day or what kind of ceremony or happening you visit.

  5. Hedgehogsbiscuitscats says

    Beautiful pictures….like stepping into a different realm and taking a forbidden memory…..well done.

  6. What great timing! You have captured the detail of their outfits beautifully, and we’re lucky to have a glimpse! Thank you for sharing.

  7. Beautiful indeed.. All I could think about was memoirs of geisha….. One of my favourite book… I wish you could have given insight about their life/lifestyle

  8. Hey, thanks for this post did my own bit of research to find the difference between a geiko, maiko and geisha would have never known had you not posted 👏

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