Tag Archives: Miyagawa-cho

Kimihiro and Kimitoyo

A touch of Klimt; surely the obi on the right was influenced by the Viennese artist.

A touch of  Gustav Klimt; surely the obi on the right was influenced by his art.

Three weeks ago today I happened across the Erikae of Kimihiro of Miyagawa-cho.  Here are eight of my favourite photos from this most fortunate of spontaneous photo-shoots.

I took the top photo during the Erikae walk.  I was one of a hoard of photographers.  But then it was all over.  The photographers dispersed.  Half a dozen of us remained, chatting, deciding what to do next – when Kimihiro surprised us by coming back out of her okiya.

Kimihiro steps out of her okiya.

Kimihiro re-emerges.

Kimihiro’s sister, Kimitoyo, appeared; I don’t even remember where she came from. Perhaps she also came out of the okiya.  It is all a blur in my mind.  They delighted us by posing with a baby.  Possibly the baby was related to them or she could have been the neighbour’s baby.  (Yes, the baby’s mother was there too, standing to one side.)

Kimihiro with her sister, Kimitoyo and a baby.

Kimihiro, Kimitoyo and the baby.

Kimitoyo and the baby.

Kimitoyo and the baby.

It was such a happy time of posing.  How often have I seen a maiko holding a baby?  Never – until that moment.

Kimihiro outside her okiya.

Kimihiro outside her okiya.

Three is a GOOD crowd - Kimihiro and Kimitoyo are joined by Fukutomo.

Three is a GOOD crowd – Kimihiro and Kimitoyo are joined by Fukutomo.

Fukutama can't help but smile at the celebrations.

Fukutama can’t help but smile at the celebrations as she passes by.

I like this photo because of the delicate hand movement of Kimitoyo, reminding us that these young women are ARTISTS.

I like this photo because of the delicate hand position of Kimitoyo, reminding us that these young women are custodians of traditional Japanese PERFORMING ARTS.

I was over-the-moon to be able to photograph the small ‘happening’ after the erikae walk. Occasionally I will know in advance that an erikae or misedashi will be on while I am in Kyoto but I didn’t know about this one.  What a gift!

Related post:  Sisters (my first post about Kimihiro and Kimitoyo)

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.

 

 

 

Sisters

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I made a spontaneous visit to Kyoto last week.  As far as I knew nothing was happening; no erikae or misedashi (debuts).  I planned to walk and photograph for three days and hoped that I would find some good material for drawing.  Imagine my surprise when on the second day I walked into an erikae!  It was the erikae of Kimihiro of Miyagawa-cho.  I was incredulous and gobsmacked!   But there was no time to be a stunned mullet.  I gathered up my wits and got straight to work with my camera.

Today I have been sifting through 800+ images from my three Kyoto days and printing a great many of them. The top photo moved me to stop what I was doing and quickly write a blog post.  The photo is of Kimihiro and her younger sister, Kimitoyo.  I don’t mean just geiko/maiko sisters but REAL sisters.  Kimitoyo looks so proud of her big sister.  You can see there is love, respect and admiration between these two girls.

DSC_0606a

This interaction came when the official erikae walk was over.  Kimihiro went inside her okiya and at that point most of the photographers left.  I was chatting to a friend when, surprisingly, Kimihiro came back outside with Kimitoyo.  Only a handful of people witnessed this sisterly scene.   There was much posing, chatting and laughing – and happily for me, tolerance of the photographers.DSC_0610asmall

Related post:  Kimihiro and Kimitoyo  more photos from the Erikae of Kimihiro

Step by Step

Step by Step

Step by Step is a drawing in pencils and wax pastels completed on 29 th October 2014.

Two women with umbrellas approach one another in Miyagawa-cho, Kyoto.  One is a young woman who happens to be a maiko.   Her gait is fluid, she walks tall and her umbrella is the colour of sakura (cherry blossom).  She radiates ease and elegance.  The woman at the other end of the street is rather a contrast.  She is in the shadows, her back is bent and her walk is arthritic.  Her clothes are utilitarian and her umbrella is black.

Step by step youth strides out.  Each day in a life is such a small unit of time.  We don’t even think about time as we busy ourselves.  How the months fly by!  January is suddenly June and … how did it get to be November?  In no time at all old age can be seen up ahead approaching with certainty.  Well, we are the fortunate ones who can see our older selves approaching…it means we are still alive.

Literally the drawing depicts two women walking towards one another.   Metaphorically it alludes to life paths, the passage of time and (ultimately) mortality…but only if you want it to.

***

Seconds after I digitally captured an image which froze two figures in time, their paths crossed.   They greeted and bowed to one another with sincerity and mutual respect.

Afterword:  “Step by Step” has won the $2000 EXPY and CPSA (Colored Pencil Society of America) Great Explorations and Best of Show Award.  1st February, 2015.

I have been interviewed by CPSA.  Here is the interview in two parts:  Part I  and Part II

Related post:   Based on a True Story

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