Hassaku in Gion, Kyoto, Japan

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Hassaku in Gion, Kyoto


“Hassaku” is an event held on August 1st in Gion Kobu, the main Hanamachi (entertainment district) in Kyoto.  Geiko (geisha) and Maiko (apprentice geisha) visit their master as well as all the ochaya (teahouse) in the district to thank the owners for their patronage and support during the year. An incredible number of photographers line up the streets hoping to catch a photo of them.  The police has to be around to control such crowd!


Photographers waiting for the maiko to arrive, Hassaku in  Gion, Kyoto




We arrived a bit before 10, and it was already crowded. I mean, the main street, Hanamikouji, was packed with photographers. Many of them have been there for quite a while, seated, waiting. The day was particularly hot and humid.  And nothing was happening.


Hassaku event in Gion

Hassaku event in Gion

We moved around, went to another location. In front of a famous teahouse (ochaya) more photographers were waiting. Back on te main street, we could see some maikos driving by in taxi, but none yet walking around.  Then, a couple of them, wearing a gorgeous kimono arrived and walked by.  All the photographers jumped and pushed each other to take pictures.

Kyoto-812445Two maiko enter a chaya (teahouse)


Hassaku in Gion, KyotoA geiko (geisha) walks around with her “team”



Hassaku in  Gion, Kyoto With this heat, I wonder how the maiko, covered with thick make-up and wearing such heavy kimono, do it. Impressive.

The scene repeated itself a couple of times — as soon as a maiko arrived, photographers forgetting any manner and only thinking about their picture, pushed each other. This somehow annoyed me very much. We just left.


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