The Gift of Art


Three days ago I returned home from Kyoto.  There is so much to tell that I hardly know where to begin.  I will endeavour to share my stories and photos over the next few weeks on my blog.

I had a specific reason for the trip; to present to Satsuki-san the portrait I had drawn of her.  The idea stemmed from my last Japanese trip in June 2014.  I had been invited to an ozashiki by my friend, Atsushi-san.  During that wonderful night I had met Satsuki-san and taken many photos of her.  On that night I had been told that her erikae (when she becomes a Geiko-san) was to be in February 2015.  I vowed to return to Japan for it.   During my trip home last June I had the brainwave to draw a portrait of Satsuki-san to give to her in February.  A couple of days later I conferred with Atsushi-san by email and the plan was in place.  It would happen!

Satsuki-san email size

Everything was perfect.  I was allowed to carry the framed drawing all the way with me in the aircraft cabin.  I had been worried that I would have to surrender it to the hold of the plane.   Not wanting to let it out of my sight from Australia to Japan, I guarded this package with my life!  Even more perfect, Matthew was able to come with me to share the celebration.







What a night.  What a memory.  I have received such gifts of inspiration from Maiko-san and Geiko-san.  It was a true joy to be able to give something back.

Thank you, Atsushi-san, for making this event possible.  Thank you, Satsuki-san for being this artist’s muse.

Note: Satsuki-san is wearing the outfit of sakkou.  This style is worn for a couple of weeks before one’s erikae.  It includes a specific hairstyle and ‘ohaguro’ (when teeth are blackened with wax).  A small explanation from Wikipaedia: “In Japan, ohaguro existed in one form or another for hundreds of years and was seen amongst the population as beautiful until the end of the Meiji period.”  Google the word if you would like to find out more.

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14 thoughts on “The Gift of Art

  1. anna warren portfolio

    There is a sense of completion in this post – the journeys resulting in wonderful artwork inspired by Satsuki and others now returning a physical result of the interaction. It must have been a very special moment for all of you. It sounds as though this was a spectacularly successful trip, with quantities of material to work from!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      I always feel filled to the brim after every trip to Kyoto. This one is no exception. I haven’t had time to process it all yet. For that reason I don’t feel able to start any new work just yet either. Especially as I’m off to New Zealand next week. I don’t know whether I’m Arthur or Martha.

  2. sherrytelle

    What a great gift for her erikae! I have seen the blackened teeth in photos and wondered why they do that, and discovered that it is only for the time during the erikae. How exciting to be there for her and to be able to present such a personal gift. It will be there to remind her of this time for the rest of her life!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      Apparently (according to the internet) the blackened teeth had a role in tooth protection as it was a type of coating which protected teeth from decay…back in the day.

  3. Míriam

    What a wonderful gift for Satsuki-san’s erikae! I love the photo series showing her reaction. Adorable!

    1. juliepodstolski Post author

      As you see, Miriam, I wasn’t taking any of the photos of her reaction because I was in the shots. At various stages my husband, Okaasan, Atsushi-san and Eriha-san had my camera so I have no idea who took which photos here.


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