2016 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan | Maiko Portrait Session in Kyoto

May 29 | Evan | No Comments |

Kyoto Japan Photo Guide Maiko 096

If you have stopped by my blog before, you may have noticed my group tours to Japan have participated in a few portrait sessions with real maiko as the subject of our portrait session in Kyoto.  It’s rare for visitors or really Japanese as well, to meet a real maiko or geiko (geiko is what geisha in Kyoto are called), so it’s a special experience just meeting a maiko and even more specials to be allowed to take portraits of a maiko.

Photo created by and courtesy of Patricia Pomerleau

Photo courtesy of and created by Patricia Pomerleau

Photo courtesy of and created by Kel Blake Photography

Photo courtesy of and created by Kel Blake Photography

In general, the weather for the 2016 Cherry Blossom trip had been great, with only 2 days with really bad and rainy weather.  One of our rainy days in Kyoto happened to be on the day we had a portrait session scheduled with a maiko.  Cloudy would’ve been perfect weather to provide soft light for our portrait session in Kyoto, but rainy was almost as nice as we had a location that would keep the maiko covered and protected from the weather, but still could create some nice portraits with mostly natural light.

 

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Photo courtesy of and created by Barna Photo

Photo courtesy of and created by Patricia Pomerleau

Photo courtesy of and created by Patricia Pomerleau

As it often is, the portrait session was one of the highlights of our group photo tour of Japan!  Below is a gallery of a few more of Patricia’s photos, my photos and also a few by Mami Yasui including some of the behind the scenes and our interactions with our lovely maiko!

With TokyoHiroshima, Miyajima and Himeji Castle already visited, next up for the 2016 cherry blossom tour was Kyoto, my favorite city in Japan!  After Kyoto we would continue our tour of Japan to photography Mt. Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes, still chasing and photographing the cherry blossoms around Japan!  Interested in joining the 2017 cherry blossom tour?  Please contact me today to start your trip to Japan during cherry blossom season or any other time you’d like!

2015 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan | Maiko Portrait Session

May 07 | Evan | Comments Off on 2015 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan | Maiko Portrait Session |

portrait with maiko japan photo guide

Before evening returning from the the 2015 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan, I received a few inquiries about the 2016 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan!  If you are looking for that information, the details of the 2016 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan can be found here.

portrait with maiko japan photo guide

 

I already shared with you about Kyoto and some of the special experiences we had there, but one other special experience in Kyoto that I saved a post for itself was our portrait session with a maiko in Kyoto.  If you have been to Japan Photo Guide before, perhaps you have seen the portrait session with the two maiko from the 2014 cherry blossom tour of Japan, also in Kyoto!  If so, you might recognize this maiko as she is in those portraits as well.  Can you spot what has changed about her appearance since last yet?

portrait with maiko japan photo guide

 

portrait with maiko japan photo guide

Of course she is a year older but now she has lipstick on both the bottom and top lips, not just a style thing, but as they advance in their training, different things like hair style and make up changes as well!  This time we first met at her tea house in Gion Kyoto, had a short tea ceremony and played a game before heading out to Kyoto Botanical Gardens to take portraits of her.

portrait with maiko japan photo guide

Taking portraits of a real maiko is always a unique and special experience itself, but also, just having sometime to talk with her was very interesting for the group visiting Japan as talking with a maiko is so rare, especially for foreign visitors.  Catching a glimpse into the world of geiko (geisha is actually geiko in Kyoto and maiko in Kyoto is a geiko in training) is a special experience that everyone enjoyed, including a couple that was taking their wedding portraits that really wanted to take a portrait with her!

portrait with maiko japan photo guide portrait with maiko japan photo guide

Want to see more photos from the 2015 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan?  The group tour also went to Tokyo, Miyajima, Hiroshima, Himeji Castle and some of us to The Fuji Five Lakes close to Mt. Fuji.  Stay tuned for more photos from the escorted tour of Japan!

portrait with maiko japan photo guide

portrait with maiko japan photo guide

2015 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan | Kyoto

Apr 29 | Evan | Comments Off on 2015 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan | Kyoto |

kyoto japan photo guide

Before evening returning from the the 2015 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan, I received a few inquiries about the 2016 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan!  If you are looking for that information, the details of the 2016 Cherry Blossom Tour of Japan can be found here.

kyoto japan photo guide

I’ve said it many times before, Kyoto is my favorite city in Japan and possibly the world!  The mix of modern and traditional influences is combine for a spectacular place to visit, explore and take photos in Japan.  There is never enough time to fit in all the places I want to share in Kyoto, but with this group tour of Japan, we certainly tried!

kyoto japan photo guide

In addition to visiting places like Nanzenji, the Path of Philosophy, Silver Pavilion, Gion, Higashiyama, Kiyomizudera, Fushimi Inari Taisha, Golden Pavilion, Ninnaji and Arashiyama, I had also arranged for some special experiences and cultural lessons.  The group got to spend time with a maiko in a tea house, as well as have a portrait session with her around Gion and the Kyoto Botanical Gardens.  Also, Some members of the group tour of Japan participated in an ikebana lesson (flower arrangement) and others in a Japanese calligraphy class.  Everyone also learned about and participated in a tea ceremony.  There will be more on all these experiences in Kyoto coming soon!

maiko kyoto japan photo guide

maiko kyoto japan photo guide

Even though the weather and cherry blossoms weren’t fully cooperating with us, Kyoto has many great photo opportunities during all times of the year!  Also, there are many varieties of cherry blossoms, so while some were too early, we had great timing for later blooming species like those at Ninnaji and Heian Shrine.

kyoto japan photo guide

Want to see more photos from the 2015 Cherry Blossom Photography Tour of Japan?  The group tour also went to Tokyo, Miyajima, Hiroshima, Himeji Castle and some of us to The Fuji Five Lakes close to Mt. Fuji.  Stay tuned for more photos from the escorted tour of Japan!

kyoto japan photo guide

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:

 

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