geisha girl


The commitment to the fading tradition of the geisha in Kyoto, Japan.

The tradition of becoming a geisha is becoming a lost art but the culture in Kyoto is stronger than anywhere in the world. Yet, there are only about 200 geishas remaining in the city; a sharp contrast to the 19th century where 2,000 geishas practices. There is some hope though. According to some city officials, the number may eventually rise again due to a regained interest because of movies and television.

The origin of the Japanese Geisha traces back 1500 years and is considered to be a great honor. Geisha training used to begin at four years old but it has since evolved to starting in their early teenage years.

Geisha literally translates to “artist” and their primary duty is to be an entertainer at parties or events; trained with a wide variety of traditional skills. They dance, play Japanese games and classical music, and sometimes are expected to master poetry and calligraphy. They are highly sought after and are well paid; with a 2 hour event costing around $2000 USD. Considering their kimono dress alone may cost in upwards of $5,000, the price seems reasonable.

I walked around the famous Gion Corner of Kyoto with the hope to see one. I wasn’t the only one as the hordes of tourists flocked to the neighborhood too. I paced up and down one street and turned my head. When I looked back, I was surprised by a beautiful geisha stealthily rushing her way in front of me. She walked faster than anyone I had ever seen and quickly disappeared into a house. I managed to snap a couple quick photos and this was the only one that was halfway decent.
I wish I would’ve had another chance to go back and shoot again but that’s alright. The experience of seeing a gorgeous geisha in real life was thrilling.