Good-bye to Gion Odori


Gion Odori ended yesterday (November 10), so we have to say good-bye to Gion Higashi's annual fall dance until next year. Unfortunately, we have to say good-bye to photography at Gion Odori as well. I did not attend this year, but I have a photographer friend who did go on both November 1 and November 8.

On November 1, photography was still permitted without flash as it has been every year, and he noticed quite a few photographers sitting in the first row of the Gion Kaikan. Several of them used their flash during the performance, and my friend said the geiko and maiko were clearly distracted by this.

When he returned for a second time, he was told by one of the ushers that photography was no longer permitted. I wish I could say I was surprised by this turn of events, but I am not. Photography was banned at Miyako Odori in 2008, at Kyo Odori in 2009, and now Gion Odori in 2012.

It is barely tolerated during Hassaku, Koto Hajime, Shigyoshiki, erikae, and misedashi because the crowds have gotten so big for all these events that the geiko and maiko cannot even walk down the street without being obstructed.

Photographers need to realize that photographing geiko and maiko is a privilege, not a right, and if you don't act politely, respectfully, and considerately, this privilege will be taken away. For all of us.