Private Thoughts

Private Thoughts Coloured pencil drawing completed on 28th November 2014

Private Thoughts
Coloured pencil drawing completed on 28th November 2014

While every maiko and geiko must face public scrutiny and insatiable curiosity as she walks through the streets of Kyoto, at least her thoughts remain private.  She will be looked up and down, photographed, approached.  “May I take your photo?”  or “Can I have my photograph taken with you?”  In awful cases, she is run after by excited tourists or flashed in the face by cameras held at close range.  She puts on her inscrutable face and walks forward.  What else can she do?

In our western world which has no secrets any more – how refreshing to be pulled backward in time to a world of sensuous mystery.  Nuance, finesse, a gentle hint – where are these feminine elements in our society?  We are bombarded with women who reveal nearly all and I find that so incredibly boring.  But fabric floating around a figure, moving with every step – now THAT is fascination.

So how can people really be blamed for wanting to look upon such a vision of elegance?

“I do not want to invade your thoughts, Makiko-san.  I have photographed you from far enough away so that I am not in your space.  There is nothing I would rather render in pencil than you and your environment – from the traditional wooden tea houses to your facial expression, swishing fabric and light step.”

And so I have spent the last few weeks drawing “Private Thoughts” – I hope, with no dishonour to my introspective subject.

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9 thoughts on “Private Thoughts

  1. julie

    Have always appreciated you for opening my eyes to these women and this culture. You certainly do this justice with your beautifully executed and gentle pencil paintings. Julie……they would be so proud of you! xxx

  2. anna warren portfolio

    The contrast between the crisp geometric patterns in the fence and pavement and the soft flowing garments enhance the sense of someone living in a world so far from our own. Makiko is an anachronism in many ways, so it is a rare pleasure to see a hint of her world. She is so dignified in her reserved manner, with the grace from her training carrying her away from our world into her own. You have captured that dignity so beautifully.

      1. anna warren portfolio

        You could also ask how long her world can continue in its present form, and not just become a quaint tourist attraction. Surely it depends on retaining its integrity, which must be getting more difficult all the time.

  3. juliepodstolski Post author

    Anna, tourists are to maiko and geiko like mosquitoes are to us – a jolly nuisance. I’m sure that they would bat them away if they could. There will only be maiko and geiko as long as there are clients who want to be entertained by them and willing to pay for the privilege. Even in Japan this world is only understood by a few. To the majority, if they ever think about them at all, they may have as many misconceptions about maiko and geiko as we do in the west. Kyoto is used to them but not the rest of Japan.


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