I think one of the must do thing for all of those who travel through Japan is at least an attempt to walk through the Gion district and have a sighing or two of Geishas as the culture and practice has captured the imagination of the West.
But as there are less than 100 geishas and 80 maiko left in Kyoto, less than 1000 of geishas and maiko in all of Japan, standing on the streets of Gion district in hopes to spot one of them begins to feel like a wild animal sighting of sorts. This feeling only deepens as double decker tour buses pulls through the narrow alley way full of tourists, Japanese and foreign.
At last, I see one! Dressed in full make up, hair and kimono, hustling down the street in small quick steps, my instinct is to pull out the camera and attempt a shot, but as all the other wild animal enthusiasts who have gathered near by flashes away, I quickly see that the Geishas do not really enjoy being photographed.
Out of respect (and also I rather suck as a paparazzi and I was not geared properly for wild life photography) I put my camera away after one lousy shot and started to take photos (albeit random and crappy) images of the gawkers instead. I think I really just wanted to annoy them in attempts to make them understand why the gawking and flashing cameras without any regard for the Geishas might just be a bit rude. I can’t say if I was successful at annoying them and making my point know but I did get a few confused and dirty looks.