After your done taking photos of the exotic flavors of Pocky in convenience stores — why not try for a photo of a Geisha?
How to Photograph a GeishaGeisha are found in Tokyo but the best place (by far) to find a Geisha is the Gion(祇園), Pontochō(先斗町) and Kamishichiken(上七軒) districts of Kyoto.
Geisha and Maiko(apprentice Geisha) can be found rushing off to work in the late afternoon and early evening throughout these upscale entertainment districts.
If you hang around for a few hours at this peak time you may bump into one or two Geisha (or Maiko).
Paparazzi StyleMany of the upscale restaurants in Kyoto have gardens in the back. However, you risk a night in jail for trespassing. Remember, that Geisha establishments are frequented by top politicians and power brokers — don't be surprised if they have security.
Japanese Tourist GeishaOne confusing aspect of Geisha street photography is that there are fake geisha all over Kyoto.
It is popular for Japanese tourists to have their hair and makeup done in Geisha style. This is expensive and is often a close approximation of the Geisha look. In fact, the tourist Geisha also represent a great photo opportunity.
However, if you're after photos of the real thing — they're pretty easy to tell apart if you use a little common sense.
Real Geisha enjoy a life of art, culture, status and privilege. They entertain the top levels of Japanese society and are highly paid. They don't hang out in front of shrines taking photos.
The easiest way to tell a real Geisha is how the locals react. Geisha are minor celebrities and Japanese are also interested in snapping a photo.
Geisha Photography EtiquetteGeisha are accustomed to having their photo snapped. However, they are not likely to pose for a photo with you.
Remember that Geisha are highly respected in Japanese society. They don't strike up conversations with strangers in the street. It's best to let them have a little space.
You don't want to be that tourist who annoys the locals. It's bad travel karma.
notes on last photo: Geisha do not give the finger. This is a friend of the photographer. Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/sushicam