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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