It wasn’t just me chasing the geisha around town, not like the old day’s, this time around I was with the wife and kids. They do tours around the Gion district of Kyoto which is where you find them. There are apparently only about a thousand real geisha left in Japan and their numbers are dwindling. I am not sure why, it could be the years of training young japanese girls might not want to submit to maybe their services aren’t as sought after, maybe the long running recession in Japan has meant the prices commanded for a dinner with a couple of geisha and their meiko (apprentices) has hit them hard, at $3,000 a pop for dinner it’s not hard to see why. At the same time they make a pretty amazing site tottering about on their wooden high heel’s, elaborate kimono’s and stunning white faces, a throwback to the past in a modern city.
In the lanes around Gion with there many tea houses, which most ordinary people will never get to see the inside of, unless you are introduced by one of the existing patrons, you get to see the geisha flitting from tea house to tea house like butterfly’s from flower to flower. And waiting for them are an assortment of japanese fans and curious westerners waiting to catch a glimpse of a geisha on her way to a tea ceremony. Everyone armed with their cameras all trying to get that shot, a form of hunting.
Axel armed with his new camera (waterproof) gleefully took up the chase with the gusto of a tabloid photographer, he got some good shot’s too, from a slightly different angle than the rest of us. He could squeeze in betweeen and under and with the indifference youth brings elbow his way to the front to get his perfect photograph.
It struck me that they are a relic from a Japan of old hanging in there with all they have got, but slowly dying out. Their appearance is exquisite, they are graceful, bound by ancient rules of etiquette, that can only be afforded by the few. You could make a comparison with Japan as a whole.