Tag Archives: Maiko

Geiko & Maiko of Kyoto by Robert van Koesveld now on sale at Maruzen Bookstore

Last week I was very happy to catch up with photographer Robert van Koesveld while he was in town. Robert was kind enough to give me a copy of his new book, “Geiko & Maiko of Kyoto” which he self-published after an extremely successful Kickstarter campaign.


If you are at all interested in the world of geiko and maiko then I would happily recommend this book. Robert’s beautiful photography and insightful text provides a wonderful pictorial guide to the world of Kyoto’s geisha. And I particularly like the part of the book that also introduces those people who work behind the scenes; the footwear makers for instance, the kimono artists, and the shamisen teacher etc…

Robert and his book in Maruzen bookstore.

Robert and his book in Maruzen bookstore.

Pop into Maruzen bookstore in Kyoto now, and you will see a large display of Robert’s books close by the Maruzen Cafe. Several of his images are also featured on posters there, to give you an idea of the contents of the book. Take a look. I’m sure you’ll be tempted.

Useful links: Geiko & Maiko of Kyoto
Robert van Koesveld Photography
(always) Learning to See: A photography blog by Robert van Koesveld

梅花祭 ~ Plum Blossom & Geisha at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Tenmangu Ume 2

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine has a huge flea market on the 25th of every month, but on the 25th of February this coincides with the peak period for plum blossom viewing. Naturally this calls for a special celebration so every year they hold a special outdoor tea ceremony with geiko and maiko (Kyoto’s geisha) serving the tea. I went along today and found the place packed out with people. Despite the crowds though I could still enjoy the blossom.

Tenmangu ume

There was a long queue of people lining up for tea with the geisha. For 1,500 yen you can get matcha tea and some kind of traditional Japanese sweet…

Tenmangu line (Medium)

I’m not a big fan of matcha tea, so I opted to peek over the fence with these guys instead.

Tenmangu peek (Medium)

Unlike all the other fellows straining for that perfect maiko shot, I did not have a massive telephoto lens, and so I didn’t really think I’d be able to get a decent picture. But one lady there today, happened to be taller than all the other maiko.

Tenmangu Geisha 2

She was quite literally head and shoulders above the rest.


Plum blossom at Kitano Tenmangu will be viewable until mid-March. To get there take Kyoto City Bus #50, and get off at Kitano Tenmangu-mae. The shrine is open from 9:00~17:00 (7:00~21:00 on the 25th for the flea market). Find out more at the Kitano Tenmangu website: www.kitanotenmangu.or.jp/

The Photographs of Frédéric Devos

This is the fourth in a continuing series of profiles of Kyoto-based photographers. Each photographer chooses five of their favorite pictures from around Kyoto and tells us a little about what those pictures mean to them. So far the participants have each shown a unique and canny eye on the city they live in. Today’s participant, French traveler and photographer Frédéric Devos, is no exception. Here are his pictures and his thoughts on the same:


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Geisha Dance: Kamogawa Odori

John Dougill writes…

Charlie Chaplin loved it, and so have thousands of others. The Kamogawa Odori is simply irresistible and a rare chance to see geisha perform in public. It helps make May the merriest month of the year.

Kyoto has five geisha areas in all, popularly known as ‘hanamachi’ or flower districts. Gion is the biggest and best-known; Pontocho which stages the  Kamogawa Odori is the second biggest. The name is thought to derive from the Portuguese term for ‘point’ in reference to a prominent spur of land once visible in the Kamo River. The geisha first catered to businesses along the Takase Canal, and when the area was made safe from flooding in 1670 teashops sprang up in a narrow passageway between the canal and the Kamo River. It’s said that the well-known term ‘the water trade’ arose here from the geisha’s custom of attracting passing boatmen. The district was given formal recognition in 1813 and became one of the city’s most popular entertainment spots. Set in tiny alleyways, it still retains a distinctive feel even today. Continue reading