On a sultry spring day in Kyoto, there was a large crowd gathered outside of the Kaburenjo Theater (pictured below) on Pontocho. This is the narrow street on which there are many bars, restaurants, and tea houses.
That could mean only one thing: Maiko were nearby.
Sure enough, under a makeshift tent two were sitting surrounded by a camera-toting mob.
Middle-aged Japanese men jostled for position next to the two women as their pals snapped photos on cell phones and tiny digital cameras.
"O-nay-san, o-nay-san (sister, sister), look this way!" called out other older people with rural accents and red badges marking them as being part of a tour group from central Japan.
French tourists in t-shirts and sunglasses held their cameras aloft, snapped, checked the photo, frowned, and reshot.
Then, without a word, the two maiko stood up and left. The crowd silently parted, then scrambled after them clicking away.
The woman pictured above right is named Ichiraku, and is a Pontocho maiko. And a vision indeed.
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Wednesday, May 21, 2008