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Monday, February 04, 2008

Maiko at Kyoto's Yasaka Shrine


On a cold overcast Sunday in early February, crowds flocked to Kyoto's Yasaka Shrine to witness the annual "mame maki" (bean throwing) ceremony to welcome spring.

At one pm, the assembled maiko, or apprentice geisha, tossed out small packets towards the crowd as part of "setsubun" holiday. According to the lunar calendar, "setsubun" falls on the day before spring. Ceremonies are held every year on February 3rd.

The three women pictured at right are exiting following the end of the ceremony. They are about to make their way through a crush of tourists and photographers as they head back to their homes in Gion.

The woman pictured below is about to throw out one of the packets (you can just make it out in her right hand). Hands outstretched, a shriek goes up every time one of the "flowers of the night" scatters her gifts to the crowd waiting below.

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