Photobombs on the Streets of Kyoto

When one is trying to photograph maiko and geiko on Kyoto streets, one is certainly not alone.  Cars cruise by while dangerously-speeding taxi drivers blare their horns at straying pedestrians.   Delivery boys on bikes whizz and a constant stream of cheek-by-jowl pedestrians wander willy-nilly.  Huge whale-like tourist buses haul themselves down narrow Hanamikoji-dori. (Why, oh why, are buses allowed on such a narrow pedestrian-filled street?)  On every trip I get many photos which are severely compromised by other people’s body parts or rushing traffic.  I usually delete them but I thought you might like to see some from this trip.  It can be quite entertaining to see what turned up in one’s photos, often not realised until one is examining them back home.  (Click on each photo to enlarge.)

A very common situation - another person walks into my picture frame. (By the way, the girl at the back is a shikomi; if she makes it through her shikomi year, she will become a maiko.)

A very common situation – another person walks into my picture frame. (By the way, the girl at the back is a shikomi; if she makes it through her shikomi year, she will become a maiko.)

"Dear Shikomi, one day in the future you may wear clothes like those whose bags you are carrying, but for the moment, you spoiled my obi shot".

“Dear Shikomi, one day in the future you may wear clothes like those whose bags you are carrying, but for the moment, you spoiled my obi shot”.

Sometimes it is the people behind your subjects that spoil the shot. No offence to them to them personally, mind.

Sometimes it is the people behind your subjects that spoil the shot. No offence to them personally, mind you.

Another person walks into my picture frame.

Another person walks into my picture frame.  Because I always stand and photograph quite far away from my subject, this often happens.  I never want to loom in a person’s face.

Drats!

Drats!

In this case I was the photobomb. The lady you see taking a photograph of this wedding couple kindly asked me to move. (I quickly did so.)

In this case I was the unwelcome addition to a photo. The person you see taking a photograph of this wedding couple kindly asked me to move. (I quickly did so.)

Fast action on the part of the photographer who jumped in front of me.

Fast action on the part of the photographer who jumped in front of me.

The ubiquitous elbow photobomb as its owner takes a photo of Kimihiro.

The ubiquitous elbow photobomb as its owner takes a photo of Kimihiro.

Look at me! I was in the view of all these guys (sorry guys!) just as they are in my view.

“Look at me!”  I was in the view of all these guys (sorry guys!) just as they are in my view.

Another 'drats' moment.

Another ‘drats’ moment.

There is that rotten bus. Such a huge vehicle should not be allowed on this tiny street. Plus a small example of the billion school children who I saw over my three days on Hanamikoji-dori.

There is one of those tourist buses.  In my opinion, such a huge vehicle should not be allowed on this tiny street. Plus, a small example of the billion school children who I saw over my three days on Hanamikoji-dori.

Nothing wrong from in front of this maiko. But the guy in the black face mask pretty much bloops the photo from behind.

Nothing wrong in the foreground.  But the guy in the black face mask behind the maiko is the spoiler.  And the car doesn’t do any favours either.

I would just like to point out how NOT to photograph maiko and geiko. Here is poor Sayaka having her personal space totally invaded by a woman. Meanwhile the woman's partner waits right at the entrance to Ichiriki, where Sayaka will enter, to accost her again. This is terrible behaviour by tourists.

I would just like to point out how NOT to photograph maiko and geiko. Here is poor Sayaka having her personal space totally invaded by a woman. Meanwhile the woman’s partner waits right at the entrance to Ichiriki, where Sayaka will enter, to accost her again. This is utterly insensitive and predatory behaviour by tourists.

As opposed to the previous photo, these tourists, while they also wait at the entrance to Ichiriki, they look on with admiration and respect.

As opposed to the previous photo, these tourists, also at the entrance of Ichiriki,  look on with admiration and respect; completely non-threatening.

And finally, if you have read and looked this far, not every photo is bombed or blooped.

And finally, if you have read and looked this far, I am happy to say that not every photo I take photobombs out!  Here is Fukutama.

 

 

 

About juliepodstolski

I am a realist artist who works in coloured pencils.
Image | This entry was posted in art, geiko, geisha, Japan, maiko, photo portraits of cities, photography, travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Photobombs on the Streets of Kyoto

  1. mukul chand says:

    wonderful photostory

  2. Yvonne says:

    Seeing how awfully crowded it is, I’m seriously considering avoiding Hanamikoji all together when I go to Kyoto this autumn… and I definitely agree on the buses. Who thought it would be a good idea to have those ride through such a busy and not-exactly-spacious street?!

    • Well, Yvonne, it isn’t always crowded. Sometimes there is hardly anybody there (especially if it is pouring with rain). The crowds ebb and flow. As to the buses, they don’t do down the street very often (thankfully). You really have to watch the taxis though. Some of the drivers get very aggressive. They drive like maniacs…very dangerous.
      Despite all the misery, outside Ichiriki is still the most guaranteed spot to see geiko and maiko.

      • Yvonne says:

        Thank you so much for all your advice! I’ll definitely keep it all in mind. I’m all for taking pictures and enjoying the world around me, but not when it can be bad for my health or the well-being of the people I’m trying to photograph. ^^;

  3. Jen says:

    Who’s the Maiko-san in the last picture? She’s really pretty and I like her kimono.

  4. LOVE this. You are such a talented story teller – each one of your posts is a story.

    Ann Kullberg We Teach. We Inspire. You Shine. annkullberg.com

  5. It is easy to forget how many unsuccessful photos one has to take in order to get the gold. Even the ‘fails’ have something to add to the story too, and as you mentioned, sometimes you don’t realise what you have captured until much later, and that would be for unexpected pleasures as well as for the photo bombers. But it still was a relief to see the last photo, a great composition, everything came together to make it work.

    • Even the last photo was a quick point-and-shoot. When it comes to maiko and geiko I simply have to be fast. The real thinking-about-composition comes with photos that I’m not in a big hurry to take like streetscapes and reflections in windows.
      You’re right though, it’s like gold panning. Out of a full pan of muck, you might be lucky enough to see some specks of gold.

  6. How interesting to see all these photos, it gives a real idea of what you go through to get your photos. I loved the photo of the geisha with the umbrella in the rain, I hope you got a usable shot of her, it had everything I think of in your art, geisha, wet reflections and out of focus street. Thanks for sharing. Karen

    • Hi Karen, speaking of what I go through to get my photos, did I mention the exhaustion and aching limbs? I stand and walk and stand and walk till I drop. 12 hours each on my feet the first two days and about 8 hours the third. (I’m getting too old for this.)
      As for Sayaka, no, I didn’t get a good photo of her but I have drawn her in the past. She is a really beautiful person, very gentle and kind.

  7. Ysobel Luna says:

    You really brought us along with your entertaining narrative! Even seeing all the fails tells the story of your efforts. 😊

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