KYOTO – lunch with a Geisha.
We pass the Kubuki Theatre again – people are already lining up – I am jealous, but I will be having my own adventure – our private lunch at a tea-house located in Miyagawacho, which is one of Kyoto’s Geisha districts.
In Kyoto, Geiko is the term used to refer to Geisha and a trainee is known as Maiko. There’s a misconception that a geisha equals a ‘lady of the evening’ if you get my drift but this is simply not the case. Our session will be with one of Kyoto’s most sought after Senior Maikos – Toshiemi.
This is the entrance – I feel another adventure coming up as we proceed through the doorway and upstairs to the dining area. It is all set out for us so we choose where we want to sit and then get comfortable.
Our table is set with chopsticks and a nice damp towel to refresh us –
As we wait our Maiko arrives – what an exquisite creature she is. There is no rush – her every move is slow and exact and her greeting to us is courteous and genuine. She proceeds to pour everyone a drink – whatever we want. Her clothing and makeup is amazing – and we all are clicking away while she is calm and pleased to do as we wish.
Her kimono is beautiful and her makeup is precise – especially the lines on the back of her neck.
Her hair is her own – it is not a wig – and she has to visit the hairdresser once a week to have it redone or make any repairs.
She carries on with a shy smile and is pleased to accommodate us – moving where we want so that we can take her photo. Once the drinks are served she takes a seat until the meals are ready. There is a lady explaining what is going on and there is another lady – maybe the lady of the house – who helps serve.
As I enjoy the wonderful meal of Miso Soup, Tempura and Rice – we ask questions and have a very interesting chat about the life of a Maiko – why she wanted to become a Maiko in the first place, how she spends her time and how she has lessons on dance, singing etc.
Toshiemi also tells us that many girls sign up and try but not many make it. The life is incredibly regimented but she enjoys every minute of it. She misses her family who she sees only now and again and sometimes she misses the modern life of media but she wouldn’t change for anything. What a treasure.
Once we have finished our lunch and the dishes are cleared away it is time for Toshiemi to perform for us. The music starts and we are entranced – when she is finished it is time for us to take photos – but a small drama ensues when one of her fans is missing – don’t look at me like that – it was discovered in the bottom folds of her kimono – –
Once we have plenty of ‘fan’ photos it is time for the umbrella – how she does this is beyond me –
There is no end to the amount of items she uses for our session – we are so privileged to be in her company. Every move and expression is exact. As I lumber around like a wharfie trying to get photos I think to myself I may never venture out in public again!!
You have most probably gathered by now that the majority of this post will be entirely about Toshiemi and the Maiko way of life and that is not a bad thing because she is such an ethereal creature. Once we have finished the indoor photos it is time for us to go outside – – how on earth she walks in these shoes is beyond me – I would have broken my ankle on the first day.
Her clothes are amazing aren’t they? The ‘house mother’ where Toshiemi lives chooses all her clothes to suit the season and occasion – hence today’s Autumn colours even in her hair.
Our time is now finished and we say sayonora and wish her well. She walks away from us and we just stare after her. We regain our senses, gather our gear and start to head back to our hotel.
We walk through the narrow streets and come out at the Shirakawa Canal that seems to have a resident crane fishing for dinner –
This crane is one of those NatGeo cut outs – I am sure of it. While I stand here with camera poised for action, he or she does not move or even twitch a muscle. Enough is enough and we head for dinner.
When it is brought to the table it is not served with the same precise action that Toshiemi performed, it’s more like a thump and enjoy which I did – it was delicious. The steak is exquisitely tender – melt in your mouth – and of course you cannot go wrong with chippees.
In Kyoto there is also a rather large (an understatement if ever there was one) photographic store.
It is called ‘Big Camera’, very original don’t you think? They have everything – but a word of warning – most of it is overpriced and you can get it cheaper coming back through Australian Duty Free – just work out what you want before you leave home and see if Duty Free has it. Being a Canon girl, I nearly fall over when I see the amount of gear they have – this photo is just one of about 8 stands and there is just as much for other brands.
I could have gone berserk but I contained myself – really just how much gear does one need?
We head for the hotel and sleep as we have a very early start tomorrow – – –