27 December 2010

Memories of 2010 : December, Mame... at Kaomise Soken

Lovely Mamehana
Kyoto 2010
Kaomise Soken was the first public appearance of Mamehana san after her erikae. I was hoping to see her and to get a good shot. How great to finally get this shot of Mamehana, Mamechiho and Mamesome crossing shijo-dori. With such a crowd waiting for them, I didn't think I could get such a good one.

This is my last post for 2010. Thanks to all for following my photos and posting your comments on flickr or facebook. I really appreciate. My best wishes to everyone for next year.

My last thought for this year is for Onihide who was such an inspiration and so kind to all of us. May he rest in peace.

Mamesome, Mamehana, Mamechiho.
Kyoto 2010

Memories of 2010 : November, Mamehana san's erikae

Maiko Mamehana Nov 21
Kyoto 2010

November highlight was Mamehana san erikae, the ceremony when she became a beautiful Geiko.

Geiko Mamehana Nov 25
Kyoto 2010

26 December 2010

Memories of 2010 : October, Jidai Matsuri

 Madame Fujiwara Tamie, by Geiko Kouyo, portrait
 Kyoto 2010


Jidai Matsuri is certainly the most photogenic festival in Kyoto : 2000 participants wearing historical costumes in the perfect location, the Imperial Park. I took hundreds of great portraits thanks to the wonderful participants, including Maiko and Geiko. This is Geiko Kouyo dressed in Madame Fujiwara Tamie (wearing a headdress called Uchi Katsugi). This is one of my favorite portrait because it has something dramatic with the Uchikatsugi hiding part of her face and her looking at the camera but at the same time she seems to be absent.
On the below picture, you can see how the headdress looks like.

Memories of 2010 : September, Maiko Tanewaka

Treasure, Tanewaka san Hanameishi
 Kyoto 2010

September was the last performance of Maiko Tanewaka at Kokusai Hotel. Over the summer, Maiko from Miyagawacho performed dances every week-end as an event to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the hotel. It's very near my home and I could attend almost every performances. Tanewaka san was surprised to see me every time and finally step by step got used to this unusual face. I am so grateful to her for her patience and kindness. The last session was wonderful. Almost nobody went there (apart from her fans!) and we could talk and laugh while taking pictures.

 Maiko Tanewaka, Portrait
Kyoto 2010

Memories of 2010 : August, Horanya Himatsuri

Fire, Horanya Matsuri
Nara 2010

How far would you go for your religion and belief ? 

I shot these dramatic scenes during Horanya Himatsuri -Horanya Fire festival- in the peaceful little village of Kashihara near Nara. This 300-year-old festival is held every year to pray for good harvest and prosperity. To this end, the participants (every men of the village) light several torches (diameter 1.5m, 500 kg) that they carry around a shrine until it burns completely.

Lighting up the torch, Horanya Matsuri
Nara 2010

25 December 2010

Memories of 2010, July - Maiko Kyouka and Sayaka at Gion Matsuri

 Maiko Kyouka and Sayaka at Gion Matsuri
 Kyoto 2010

Gion Matsuri is the most famous festival in Japan. It takes place every year in July in Kyoto and is crowned by a procession on July 17 called Yamaboko Junkō (山鉾巡行). Instead of posting pictures of the floats (portable shrine), I selected these pictures of Maiko Kyouka and Sayaka attending the procession. They were so beautifully dressed up to watch and encourage the men carrying the floats. Kyouka is not only pretty but she seems to be always joking. They were laughing after Kyouka said to Sayaka  (pointing at a man on a float): Don't you think the guy over there look like Robert de Niro ? (he obviously didn't).

Maiko Kyouka, attending the procession, Gion Matsuri
Kyoto 2010

Memories of 2010, June - Jamaki Festival Children portrait series

 Boy getting ready for the parade
 Nara 2010
I already posted this children portrait series taken during Jamaki Festival near Nara, but I like it so much. All these children had such beautiful and innocent expression.

Memories of 2010, May - Ujigami Matsuri Festival

 Men carrying the mikoshi from Otoyo Shrine
 Kyoto 2010

I spent the summer going to one festival to another. There are so many in Kyoto and the Kansai. People are always so enthusiastic. It's often about a portable shrine (Mikoshi) that needs to be carried out all day by men through different parts of the city. These scenes are always so impressive and photogenic.

These pictures were taken on May 4th during Ujigami Festival, Otoyo Shrine (Higashiyama).

 Women encouraging the men with a sensu (fan)
 Kyoto 2010

The name of the shrine (Otoyo) is written on the fan.

Start of the procession, Men carrying the Mikoshi
Kyoto 2010

About Otoyo Shrine 大豊神社
Otoyo-jinja Shrine is dedicated to the local divinities who give protection to the district covering Shishigatani and Nanzen-ji Temple. According to tradition the shrine was founded in 887 to beseech the gods for a cure for illness suffered by Emperor Uda. It was built on Shishigatani the 15th peak of the 36 peaks in the Higashiyama range in east Kyoto. In 1954 Kyoto City listed the shrine as a Place of Scenic Beauty among the ancient temples and shrines gracing the city.

24 December 2010

Memories of 2010, April - Cherry Blossom

 Cherry Blossom Reflection, Path of philosophy
Kyoto 2010

Japanese people are so enthusiastic every year for the cherry blossom. This is one of Japan most famous cliche and we all have seen some cherry blossom pictures again and again. But this is so beautiful that we never get enough.

Cherry Blossom, Tetsu gakku no michi
Kyoto 2010

Cherry Blossom Enthusiasm, Imperial Palace Garden
Kyoto 2010

Memories of 2010, March - Higashiyama Hanatouro

Maiko Miharu, from Gion Higashi
Kyoto 2010 

March highlight was Higashiyama Hanatouro. During this event the major temples of Higashiyama could be visited at night and Maiko performed various dances at Yasaka Jinja. Photo session with several Maiko also took place. I had the chance to see Maiko Katsuru and Maiko Miharu who became Geiko at the end of 2010.

Maiko Katsuru, from Kamishichiken
Kyoto 2010

23 December 2010

Memories of 2010, February - Ume Plum Blossom

Plum blossom, Imperial Palace garden
Kyoto 2010 

Plum trees started to bloom at the end of February at Kyoto Gosho (Imperial Palace). This is not as famous as the cherry blossom but the flowers are very photogenic and their smell is wonderful.

Memories of 2010, January - Seijin shiki

20 years old women, Seijin Shiki
Kyoto 2010

This is the first post of a 2010 series where I selected the highlights of each month and my most viewed pictures.
2010 started with Seijin Shiki. This is a ceremony held on Jan 11 by the city office or city hall to congratulate those who turned 20 and officially became adults. Many women celebrate that day by wearing a colorful kimono with long sleeves called furisode.

Furisode, Seijin Shiki
Kyoto 2010

14 December 2010

Kotohajime, Ninben

 Geiko Mamehana and Mamechiho,  Koto Hajime
 Kyoto 2010

The rain didn't discourage the crowd from waiting for the "ninben sisters" during Koto-hajime. During this event Geiko and Maiko visit their teachers of traditional arts to express their gratitude for the past year and best wishes for the year to come. So glad to see Mamehana and Mamechiho again. Who wouldn't? I used a 50mm lens. It was difficult to get a good shot with the rain and I wish I could have seen Mamehana san black kimono that can be partially seen on these pictures. But finally all the wagasa made it such a beautiful scene.

Geiko Mamehana, Koto Hajime
Kyoto 2010

10 December 2010

Momiji Dec, Kyoto Imperial Palace

  Kyoto Gosho, Imperial Palace Garden
 Dec 2010

The stunning autumn colors of Kyoto Gosho last until December every year. Can't help taking the same pictures of the same leaves of the same trees every year. This is so beautiful.

6 December 2010

A day in heaven, Maiko Photo session at Chion-In

Katsuyuki, Mamechiho, Sayaka, Ayano, Kyouka
Chion-In temple, Kyoto 2010

This is it. The final picture on the stair of Chion-In temple was just taken. The photo session is already over. Of course, it went too fast. I enjoyed it so much. Our 5 stars are on the way to have their break. They deserve it. I like these pictures even more than the session itself because they are more spontaneous. They seem to forget the crowd, just talk and laugh as usual. And this is my last picture of Geiko Mamechiho.

Geiko Mamechiho & Maiko Sayaka, Katuyuki & Kyouka

5 December 2010

Bye bye Geiko Mamechiho

Geiko Mamechiho, portrait
Kyoto 2010

She came late for this last session which is probably the reason why she didn't complete fully her oshiroi (white make up). But she was great, acting so easily in front of a camera.

4 December 2010

Geiko Mamechiho, Chion-In

 Geiko Mamechiho, #portrait
 Kyoto 2010

Geiko Mamechiho was one of the model of the photo session organized by the famous and inspiring Maiko photographer Hiroshi Mizubuchi in Chion-In temple last Nov. 4 Maiko participated as well : Kyouka, Sayaka, Ayano and Katsuyuki. They were all great (I will post some pictures of them later) but Mamechiho was definitely the best, acting so naturally. This was certainly my last chance to see her before she quits (or I don't know the proper word in such case).

2 December 2010

Momiji Nov 23 at Eikando temple, Higashiyama

 Momiji, Eikando temple
Kyoto 2010

Eikando is one of the most impressive spot for red maple leaves offering a stunning combination of colors. I enjoyed it a lot. And it seems these girls did too.

Click here to view Eikando Temple website in English.

 Seasonal Kimono, Eikando Temple
 Kyoto 2010


Kaomise Kabuki Performance, Maiko from GionKobu

Maiko Mameyuri, Kaomise soken
Kyoto 2010

Did Maiko Mameyuri just see her favorite actor ?

Kaomise Soken is the main theater event in Kyoto in December gathering a huge number of famous actors. Maiko and Geiko go to attend the performance and to get the name of their favorite actors to hang on their kanzashi. Here are a few photos of Maiko from Gion kobu going to the performance.

Maiko Mameharu, portrait
Kyoto 2010

Her favorite actors are Sakata Tojyuro and Ichikawa Enya.

Odamoto Maiko
Katsuyuki at the front. Katsuya at the back
Kyoto 2010