21 November 2011

Momiji - Koto-In

Fountain at Koto-In temple
Kyoto 2011

Here we go. Fabulous autumn colors, everyone wants to enjoy the momiji (red maple leaves).

6 October 2011

Green variation

Inner garden, Ginkakuji
Kyoto 2011

Same series as this post.

1 October 2011

Party in Gion

 Enchanting capture
Kyoto 2011 

Another timeless & stunning scene in Gion. Suzuko and other Geiko dressed up and getting excited by the parade to come. For some reason, I didn't take any picture of the parade. My focus was on this beautiful crowd.

29 September 2011

Satsuki chan

Satsuki's smile
Kyoto 2011

Hi Everyone, it's been a while. So I thought it could be a good idea to post this lovely portrait of Maiko Satsuki. Some energy for the day!

27 August 2011

Geiko Kosen, black & white & red

Geiko Kosen, erikae
Kyoto 2011

What was she thinking about on her erikae, one of the greatest day of her career ?
Gion narrow streets enable to get this stunning natural light that enhance her white, black and red.

18 August 2011

The Sato girls

The Sato Girls 
Kyoto 2011 

Always pleasant to see the Sato girls, the wonderful Maiko trio from Kamishichiken, here heading to Gokagai.

5 August 2011

Ichimomo portrait

 Maiko Ichimomo, portrait
Kyoto 2011

Maiko Ichimomo from Kamishichiken.

23 July 2011

Maiko Kyouka, photographer of Gion Matsuri

Maiko Kyouka, eye of a photographer
Kyoto 2011

Now I can say that I have something in common with Maiko Kyouka: Photography. She also took many pictures of Gion Matsuri main parade. We laughed looking at each other camera. I don't know about her pictures, but I am really glad about this one. 85mm, focus set on her eye.

21 July 2011

Geiko Sakiko at Gion Matsuri

Geiko Sakiko, portrait
Kyoto 2011

In the evening on Hanamikoji during Gion Matsuri.

Several Geiko and Maiko were gathered in front of the Ochaya Ichiriki. Usually they would already be inside with their guests. But on that night they were all waiting outside on Hanamikoji because a Mikoshi was brought through Gion famous street by the participants of the festival.

Everyone was very excited. I hardly had time to make this shot. A few seconds later I was pushed to the wall by the movement of the crowd.

19 July 2011

Gion Matsuri, Another wonderful day

Kyouka, Sayaka, Satsuki
 Kyoto 2011

Like last year, Kyouka, Sayaka and Satsuki had fun watching Gion Matsuri main procession and cheering the men pulling the hoko (Click here to view the same scene in 2010, Sayaka was still a Maiko and Satsuki not yet one).

And as every year, it was great to be there.

They are Gion "superstars" but so easy going and accessible. I am grateful to all of them for their kindness and the wonderful photo series.

Maiko Satsuki, watching the hoko
Kyoto 2011

Gion Matsuri, on the hoko

Dreaming, boy portrait
Kyoto 2011

This little boy would like to climb on the top of the hoko during Gion Matsuri main procession. Looks like fun. But this is too high and not stable at all. Look at him !

On the hoko, Gion Matsuri main procession
Kyoto 2011

18 July 2011

Gion Matsuri 祇園祭, main procession

Hoko, Gion Matsuri 
Kyoto 2011

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 17th called Yamaboko Junkō (山鉾巡行). This colorful parade consists of men dressed in traditional costumes pulling 32 portable shrines through some of Kyoto main streets, Shijo, Karasuma and Oike. The floats are usually called Mikoshi (神輿) throughout Japan but Hoko (鉾) in Kyoto. All floats are made of wood, assembled a few days before the parade, carry musicians and are decorated with tapestries and fabrics.

The festival is over 1100 years old and originates a series of disasters such as plagues, epidemics or earthquake in the 9th Century. The priest of Yasaka Shrine decided to lead a procession to pray and ask for a divine intervention to stop these disasters. The festival is held once a year since and remains very popular.

Pulling the hoko, teamwork
Kyoto 2011

16 July 2011

Children, gion matsuri

Children dance, Gion Matsuri
Kyoto 2011

Tomorrow will be Gion Matsuri main parade, and as every year, it's gonna be awesome. I took this  photo today during a dance performance on Shijo dori.

14 July 2011

Maiko Tanewaka, white gloves

Maiko Tanewaka, white gloves
 Kyoto 2011

Pure grace. Maiko Tanewaka, waiting for the taxi, wearing her white gloves to protect her skin from the sun.

3 July 2011

Maiko Satohina & Satohana, greetings

Maiko Satohina and Satohana, after the show
Kyoto 2011

These are 2 of the lovely Sato-girls, Maiko from Kamishichiken. They just performed a dance and are now greeting the audience. I like this angle. You can admire the Obi perfectly tied up and the neck which is the only part of the body that is not covered by the hikizuri (kimono) or oshiroi (white make up). After a dance performance, they often sweat but no one sees it because they face the audience. Afterwards, they always use a handkerchief before it spreads to the make up. So elegant, as always.

30 June 2011

Ginkakuji green, rainy season

Ginkakuji, garden
Kyoto 2011

The rainy season offers stunning variation of bright green in all Kyoto temples and gardens. This is Togudo pavillon inside Ginkakuji temple, always a popular stop along the path of philosophy.

29 June 2011

Obi festival

Maiko from Gion Higashi
 Kyoto 2011

 After gokagai, all Maiko went straight back to their Okiya to get ready to work in the evening. I was trying to get a front shot. But they walked so quickly that I could only get this colorful one.

19 June 2011

Maiko Fukuho and Kofuku at Gokagai

 Maiko Fukuho
Kyoto 2011 

No wonder that she caught everyone's attention in the very dark Kyoto kaikan entrance.

Mieko and Kofuku
Kyoto 2011

Wonderful to see them laughing like this.

18 June 2011

Miyako no Nigiwai : Gokagai

Was it all an illusion ?
 Kyoto 2011

"Miyako no Nigiwai" is a brilliant idea to gather all five Kagai for a joint dance performance.
The Gokagai (5 kagai, Maiko districts, literally flower street) usually organize their own performance separately. Miyako no Nigiwai is therefore a unique chance to see all of them together. It takes place every year on the 3rd week-end of June. People no longer call this event "Miyako no Nigiwai" but simply "Gokagai".

I was a bit too far to take good shots but the above picture gives a good overview of this fantastic show. This is the final dance when all Geiko and Maiko greet the audience.

As usual, it is as interesting to watch inside as outside. The show is amazing but outside it is also wonderful to see other Geiko and Maiko who come to attend the performance with their guests.

 Geiko Sayaka, portrait
 Kyoto 2011

I had not seen Sayaka san since her Erikae. She kindly posed for this portrait. She looks fantastic. I like how she draw the red on her eyes.

Geiko Katsuyuki, portrait
Kyoto 2011

Among the recent Geiko, Katsuyuki san looks stunning too. I had not seen her as a Geiko yet. She was still a Maiko when I took the following pictures. This was only half a year ago but it seems an eternity.

11 June 2011

Maiko Makino, Hojyoe

Maiko Makino, lips
Kyoto 2011

Hojyoe is a ceremony held on Tatsumi-bashi in Gion to encourage people to live in harmony with the environment (It was not allowed to take pictures of the religious ceremony).
2000 goldfish are released in the river from Tatsumi Bridge to symbolize this harmony. Maiko Makino and Masaki were the first participants to free the goldfish.
I could shoot this very close portrait series during the few minutes they spent on this tiny bridge. I especially like the one above where you can admire the perfection of the red line on her lips.

Maiko Makino, Masaki
Kyoto 2011

5 June 2011

Geiko Kosen, Erikae

Geiko Kosen, Erikae
Kyoto 2011

Another wonderful day in Gion. But you had to be at 2 places at the same time. One was Hojyoe at Tatsumibashi, a ceremony where Maiko Makino and Masaki released some goldfish in the river (I will post some photos later). And the other one was Maiko Kosen's Erikae, the ceremony where she became a Geiko. So I missed the beginning but I could join the crowd later on.

Congratulations to Kosen san for her erikae.

It's quite unusual but her Erikae took place on a Sunday. I felt a bit sorry for her because it was more crowded than usual and many Ochaya were closed. But anyway, she looks stunning as a Geiko and I hope she enjoyed her special day.

Geiko Kosen, portrait
Kyoto 2011

4 June 2011

Maiko Katsune, rare portraits

 Maiko Katsune, portrait
Kyoto 2011 

This is Maiko Katsune from Kamishichiken.

As you can see on the make up on her lips, she is still on her first year as a Maiko.

Pictures of her are still rare, so enjoy!

Really glad I finally got the chance to make some portraits. The above picture was shot at the Handicraft museum. She was quite nervous in one of her still rare public appearance. On the below one, she already felt better and I am of course so grateful to her for this lovely portrait.


Maiko Katsune, smile
 Kyoto 2011

27 May 2011

Ohara-me procession

 Girl Portrait, Ohara-me procession
 Kyoto 2011

Ohara is a village North-East of Kyoto famous for its temples Ohara and Hosen-In as well as agriculture. The Ohara-me procession celebrates Ohara women elegant blue outfits since Muromachi era. It gathers women and girls from the village and its surroundings, starts in Jakko-in up to Ohara temple.

Woman portrait, Ohara-me procession
Kyoto 2011

22 May 2011

Kamogawa Odori, final days

 Maiko Shinaju after Kamogawa Odori
Kyoto 2011

Just a few more days to enjoy Kamogawa Odori, the spring dance performed by the Maiko and Geiko of Pontocho. It's 5:30 and 30 seconds. The show finished at 5:30pm sharp and they are already running back to their Okiya to get ready to work in the evening. They're still wearing the hikizuri (outfit) they used for the show.

Pontocho (Kyoto famous narrow street full of restaurants) is such a photogenic place. And with all of them, this is just perfect.

Momifuku, Mitsuna, Momiju, Hisasuzu, Tomoyuki
Kyoto 2011

Believe it or not, but these smiles from Mitsuna and Momiju are for me!

16 May 2011

Aoi Matsuri - Smile

Saio Dai Court
Kyoto 2011

Another post on Aoi Matsuri with these beautiful smiles. It was a real fight to approach the stunning characters of this festival through the crowd, but it was definitely worth it.

Portrait, Aoi Matsuri
Kyoto 2011

15 May 2011

Aoi Matsuri - Procession

Bull, Aoi Matsuri procession
Kyoto 2011

Aoi Matsuri main procession took place on May 15. Started at Kyoto Gosho (Imperial Park) up to the Kamo shrines. As always stunning characters and colorful parade.

Aoi Matsuri, Gosho - Imperial Park
Kyoto 2011

11 May 2011

Ujigami Matsuri, carrying the mikoshi

Exhausted, portrait
 Kyoto 2011

May sees plenty of festivals every day. These are always photogenic events. This is a portrait of a man carrying the Mikoshi at Ujigami Matsuri.
The Mikoshi is a portable shrine that is brought through every street and to every house supporting that temple. Participants receive a divine protection for another year. The Mikoshi is quite heavy and the procession last several hours, therefore all men look pretty exhausted at the end of the day. But if you live in the district or the village organizing the festival, you have to participate!

Sometimes it gets pretty dangerous with fire etc... like for this one.

 Teamwork, carrying the Mikoshi
 Kyoto 2011

4 May 2011

Aoi Matsuri - Purification

Mao-chan, portrait
Kyoto 2011

Sweet little Mao-chan. I hope to see her again during the main procession on May 15.

Aoi Matsuri is the festival of the 2 Kamo shrines, Shimogamo and Kamigamo.  It was once believed that Aoi flower (hollyhock) would protect against natural disasters. This is one of the "big three" festivals in Kyoto with Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri.

The main event is a procession held on May 15 with several characters dressed in costumes from the Heian court.  One of the main character, the Saio-dai is a woman who represents purity. These pictures were taken during a "purification ceremony" (saio dai misogi no gi) at Shimogamo on May 4.

Saio-dai, portrait
Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto 2011

Women accompanying the Saoi-Dai
Kyoto 2011

3 May 2011

A dream - Miyako Odori end ceremony

#Maiko Momokazu, Manaha, Mamesome, Ayano, Chisako, Ichiwaka, Takahina
Kyoto 2011

On May 1, Geiko and Oneesan from Gion kobu went to Yasaka shrine for the ceremony that ends Miyako Odori.

Yasaka shrine is so touristic that I didn't take many photos there so far. But this shrine means so much for all residents in Gion, not only during Gion Matsuri. This is the sacred place that protects them. By watching Gion-kobu Geiko and Maiko going there, as a natural step after Miyako Odori,  to pray and to thank the divinity that everything went well during Miyako Odori, I looked at it differently.

So I'm now thinking about Yasaka shrine for a future post...but coming back to the ceremony:

Maiko who participated to Miyako Odori didn't attend the ceremony but just went there to greet and thank their Oneesan and teacher.

It was really like a dream. It was unbelievable to see all of them at the same time dressed up so beautifully.

On the above picture, they are looking at their dance teacher with eyes full of respect. This is so beautiful.

After the greetings, they all returned to their Okiya in Gion followed by the usual crowd of photographers.

Maiko Makino, Mamechika, Takahina, Mamesaku, Ayano, Kyouka, Mamefusa, Mamesome
 Kyoto 2011

This is on Shijo dori, on the way to Hanami-koji.

 Maiko Mameyuri, Mamemaru, Manaha, Mamechika
 Kyoto 2011

This is the Northern part of Gion, near Shimbashi.

Maiko Kyouka, Mamesome (background Chisako, Katsuya)
Kyoto 2011

These two are friends. Is it the Osaka connection ? Anyway, it was the first time I heard them talking to each other using Osaka-ben (Osaka dialect) instead of the usual Kyoto-ben used by the Maiko and Geiko. This was maybe their way to relax a bit after an exhausting month. Lovely!