Smile, you’re on candid camera

I was in this carriage. No I wasn't. This was a poster I saw in Miyagawacho. But all the rest of the photos are real.

I was in this carriage.
No I wasn’t. This was a poster I saw in Miyagawacho. But all the rest of the photos are real.

When I go to Kyoto I spend an inordinate amount of time in the streets photographing maiko and geiko.  This post shows thirteen of my favourite ‘candid camera’ photos from my last trip in July 2014.  No doubt some drawings will come from these photos in the next couple of years.  As always, click on each photo if you’d like to enlarge it.



Abbey Road_edited-1










The last photo shows the scary doorman at Ichiriki Teahouse.  He always reminds me of Bill Murray (Japanese version).    He does not suffer inquisitive tourists gladly.

By the end of every trip I don’t care whether I never see another maiko or geiko again.  I don’t mean what I say of course.  But this business of hanging out on streets is very tiring!  The things I do for art.


postscript:  Here are a few more you might like…added 24 hours after the ones above…






All identifications most welcome.

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26 thoughts on “Smile, you’re on candid camera

  1. mousy

    Your candids are great! I love the Abbey Road and Bill Murray references!
    Some of the scenes and the kimonos look like they may be good inspiration for your drawings. I’m looking forward to seeing the results!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Mousy, it is such fun photographing in the street as you never know what you’re going to get. I do emphasize that I have a zoom lens so photograph from afar. When the maiko or geiko comes close to me I NEVER EVER photograph in her face. Always put the camera down.

  2. Jim Murray

    Great photos! Yes, I can see Bill Murray in that face, but quite a bit older. My favorite is the photo just before that. I’m looking forward to seeing which ones you put to pencil.

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who sees the Bill Murray face, Jim. I’m also looking forward to seeing which ones I put to pencil. I think the last photo will be source material for one of the first drawings.

  3. Lissa Rachelle

    Absolutely incredible photos, Julie! I especially love the one of them all in the train! It almost looks surreal. I can’t wait to see the drawings that come from these!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Ha! Well, Lissa, the maiko in the train really IS surreal as it is an advertisement. I would have loved to have stolen that poster off the wall but my conscience wouldn’t let me do a thing like that.

  4. Keito ; 蛍斗

    Oh wow! You are so lucky (and of course you know 😉 )

    Who is the maiko wearing gloves? How elegant! And I agree, the Ichiriki doorman does look like Bill Murray 😀 I can’t wait to see your new art pieces.

  5. stefan2009

    With the help of the members of the forum you-know-well :
    -Hisasuzu with Hisamomo, Ichiteru and Ichinana,
    -Toshisumi & Toshikana,
    -Koai and a shikomi
    -Mameroku with Satsuki & Katsutomo,
    -Ayako & Shôko
    -Satsuki, Mameroku, Katsutomo
    I don’t know for the last three maiko…

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Thanks a million, Stéphanie and friends-members-of-the-forum. Though I probably will leave the photos on this post without words, I am writing the names next to the printed photos in my photo album. This is very very helpful!!!!

      1. stefan2009

        It’s our pleasure to identify maiko as you know ^^.
        Ah and I recognize the last one too, it’s Ichitaka !

      2. stefan2009

        Oh sorry I was wrong about Ichitaka. In fact the last five maiko & geiko whose you’ve posted the photos are :
        – Mamesuzu
        – Satsuki. Mameroku and Katsutomo
        – Marika
        – Hisacho & Ichiaya
        – Kanako


  6. occasionalartist

    Great photos as usual Julie, the train shot is great, but I also love the one of the two walking down the street in the yellow and pink kimonos, they look so natural. Excuse my ignorance but what are they all carrying in those parcels? Karen

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Karen, the ‘parcel’ is really a handbag for maiko and geiko. It is wicker on the bottom and material with drawstring on top. Inside are the things that a maiko or geiko will need during her engagements…such as fan, make-up, mirror, phone etc. (Almost like what you or I might carry around.) The bag is called ‘ozashiki-kago’.

  7. Robyn Varpins

    Wow, there are some great photos there….I look forward to seeing which you choose to honour with pencils

  8. Melanie

    Incredibly beautiful photographs as always, which I enjoy seeing immensely – Not least of all because until I can get to experience it all in person, I can live those moments vicariously through your photos and gorgeous artwork. Shameful really!
    Looking forward to your new creations 🙂

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Melanie. Now that I have a blog it remains in the back of my mind when I travel. So I don’t just think, “this is great” when I’m in the midst of an experience, but, “I know I’m going to want to describe it in words and pictures”. It is heartening, therefore, to receive valued feedback such as yours.

  9. anna warren portfolio

    These are great – no wonder you save these up to draw over time, you must be spoilt for choice, I can see so many that would make fabulous drawings. I was wondering about the covered baskets, so I’m glad Karen asked the question! I have a very old sewing basket made in the same way, I wonder if it was Japanese inspired. And yes, I can see Bill Murray too!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Right now I DO feel spoilt for choice, Anna. However I can quite quickly go from ‘the world is my oyster’ to ‘I’ve completely run out of material’. Often it has nothing to do with the material itself; rather, my attitude. But right now I feel blessed with opportunites.

  10. Pingback: Child Photography | Fabulous 50's

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