2019 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour | Kyoto Geiko Portrait Session

Jul 21 | Evan | No Comments |

In 2014 I received a request to arrange a private tour in Japan for a photographer and his family. There were a few photography opportunities requested such as spending time with a master sword smith as he worked to to take portraits of a real maiko, geiko or geisha in Japan. So it was in 2014 I first started working with this (at the time) maiko and during the 2019 cherry blossom photography tour of Japan I took portraits of her for the first time as a geiko (she finished her apprenticeship and earned new title).

I’ve really enjoyed working with her and creating portraits in Kyoto with her year after year and hope to continue to bring small groups of photographers to take portraits of her for many years to come in Kyoto.

The photo below is courtesy of and created by one of our group’s photographers, Daniel Leffel. Take a look at Daniel’s website for more excellent photography not only of Japan but all over the word.

Kyoto Japan

The 2019 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour took a small group of photographers to Japan. We started in Tokyo and continued to Hiroshima, Miyajima, Himeji Castle, Kyoto and Mt. Fuji from Shizuoka and from Fuji Five Lakes. Here is the trip report from the 2019 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan and the 2018 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour of Japan. The 2020 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour of Japan is already planned and live! Limited spots are available for the 2020 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan, with first booking already reserved!

Here is a gallery of more geiko portraits taken during the 2019 cherry blossom tour of Japan.

2018 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour of Japan | Maiko Portrait Session in Kyoto

Jun 01 | Evan | No Comments |

I’ve been photographing this maiko san since 2014 and this past photography tour will be the last time I photograph her as a maiko as she is finished her apprenticeship and became a geiko (geisha are called geiko in Kyoto) in May!  A portrait session with a real maiko is always a popular request from photographers visiting Japan with me on the photography tours.

I’ve really enjoyed the portrait sessions with her in Kyoto over the years and it’s been fun to see her grow and become a fantastic model to work with.  At this point, I don’t have say anything to her until I’m ready to move to the next location or pose.  I’ve also grown and improved as a photographer myself, so it’s been fun working with her multiples times on the photography tours of Japan.

I’m already looking forward to next portrait session in Kyoto with her as a geiko san which will include a lot of changes in her style and appearance!  I will have to put together a book for her as a gift with some of my favorite portraits of her in Kyoto over the years! 

The 2018 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour took a small group of photographers to Japan.  We started in Tokyo and continued to Hiroshima, Miyajima, Himeji Castle, Kyoto and Mt. Fuji.  Here is the trip report from the 2018 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan. The 2019 Cherry Blossom Photo Tour of Japan is already planned and live!  Limited spots are available for the 2019 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan, with first booking already reserved!  Below is a gallery of more photos from our maiko portrait session in Kyoto.

Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan | Maiko Portrait Session

Apr 20 | Evan | No Comments |

Maiko Portrait Session-13-japanphotoguide

The 2014 cherry blossom tour of Tokyo and Kyoto  in Japan had been going great and filled with special experiences so far.  When planning this trip to Japan, one of the experiences I was most excited about was this portrait session with a real maiko!  A maiko is an apprentice geisha or geiko as they are referred to in Kyoto.  Many westerners think that these women are prostitutes, but this is not the case (and has not been for quite some time).  Maiko, geisha or geiko are really entertainers that not only must know how to perform songs and dance, but also how to social interact and talk with high ranking politicians and members of elite society.  For more information about maiko, geisha, geiko and their history, the wikipedia page is a good place to start.

Maiko Portrait Session-20-japanphotoguide

To schedule time with a maiko is not so easy.  First, you have to know somebody with a connection.  I had a few interactions with maiko and geiko, and because of my experience with some geisha houses and my Japanese, I could have scheduled something by myself, but like many things in Japanese culture, the most direct way is not always the best.  So even for me,  the best way for me to arrange time with one is to go through one of my connections in Kyoto.  Even if you have a connection or two like myself, availability can be a problem as there are not so many maiko around!   Thanks to my connections, we were able to arrange 2 different portrait sessions with 2 different maiko.  Now that we had the time scheduled, the difficult part was finding a beautiful place, where we wouldn’t be overrun by tourist rushing to take photos!  So all the popular places were out of the questions, but we were able to find some more isolated areas that allowed us to make beautiful portraits in Kyoto.  Here are just a few of my favorite portraits of the two maiko in Kyoto during cherry blossom season: