Kisaragi Tayu at Yugiri Memorial Service

Kisaragi_Tayu_at_Yugiri_Memorial_Service
Kisaragi_Tayu_at_Yugiri_Memorial_Service

Although this woman's upper lip is not painted, she is definitely not a first-year maiko. She is Kisaragi, one of the few remaining tayu left in Kyoto and Japan. This photo was taken at Seiryo-ji, a temple in Arashiyama in Kyoto, during the Yugiri Memorial Service, an event held every November that honors the memory of Yugiri, one of the most famous tayu in Japanese history.

As far as I know, tayu always wear red kimono, and they have many more elaborate kanzashi (hair ornaments) than maiko and geisha. Kisaragi-san's kanzashi are swinging in this photo because she was carefully walking down the very steep steps of the main entrance to Seiryo-ji in her bare feet. (Unlike geiko and maiko and many other traditional artists in Japan, tayu do not wear the white socks known as tabi).

Kisaragi is obviously a stunning subject to photograph, so my only challenge in making this photo was pressing my shutter release at the right moment to catch the swing of her kanzashi at their apex.