Show Up and Good Things Happen!

A maiko makes her way down Miyagawa-suji on a snowy day in March 2014
A maiko makes her way down Miyagawa-suji on a snowy day in March 2014

As I wrote a few days ago, this is my post from December 28, 2014. It was accidentally deleted, so I am posting it again. My apologies to those who subscribe to my blog via e-mail!

During my days as a street photographer in Kyoto from 2002 - 2006, the one image I was never able to make was a photograph of a maiko or geiko walking down the street on a snowy day.

I remember coming frustratingly close one time. It started snowing early in the afternoon, and it snowed all during my train ride from Osaka to Kyoto (I was living in Osaka then).

I rushed out of Keihan Shijo Station, and it was still snowing. I raced the few blocks from the station to Miyagawa-cho, and it was still snowing. I got to Miyagawa-suji, pulled my camera out of my backpack, saw a maiko leave her okiya, and the snow suddenly stopped.

One forlorn flurry fell in front of me, mocking my missed opportunity. That was the only chance I ever had -- until March of this year.

March is the month I reserve for exploring parts of Kyoto I have never been to before or haven't been to in a very long time. Spring is usually in the air, and there are comparatively fewer tourists than at other times of the year.

This year I was wandering around the northwest section of Kyoto. I spent the morning and afternoon meandering down narrow roads, moving from famous temple to obscure temple to temples that weren't even on the maps.

I had my camera with me, but I was really only taking test shots every once in a while. The day was about discovering, not photographing.

By 3:30 p.m. I was pretty exhausted, and I had found several spots I knew I would come back to photograph the following week.

I was far away from any train or subway station, and I had already taken one taxi that morning. I figured I would take the first bus that came along and get as close to central Kyoto as I could.

As the bus pulled up to the stop, it started snowing, very surprising for March in Kyoto.

This particular bus was going all the way to Keihan Sanjo Station, and I could get the subway from there back to my apartment.

It started snowing harder and harder. I started thinking. I did have my camera with me, and I could make it to Gion in 10 minutes and Miyagawa-cho in 15 from Keihan Sanjo.

But I was tired, and I wasn't really dressed for a snowy day. And besides, I knew it would stop snowing the second I got off the bus.

When the bus pulled into Keihan Sanjo, it was snowing harder than ever. It wasn't sticking, but it was getting hard to see. The flakes were coming down pretty furiously.

Oh, well...

I decided to go to Miyagawa-cho instead of Gion because I thought the odds of my encountering a geiko or maiko there would be greater than if I were in Gion.

Of course, by the time I arrived in Miyagawa-cho at around 4:30, the snow had stopped. The sky was still dark and cloudy, though, so I decided to hang around.

It started snowing a little again, but it stopped almost as soon as it began. I didn't see a single maiko or geiko. I didn't see anyone. The street was completely deserted, except for me.

At 5:30 p.m. it started really snowing again. Now all I needed was a geiko or maiko to come my way, preferably one of the few who still knew me and might stop to pose for me.

A few minutes later a solitary maiko appeared down the street. And then a second came. I didn't know either of them, but I was able to photograph them both at the height of the heavy snow, and then the snow stopped again, this time for good.

Another maiko happened by, and then a geiko. The maiko actually stopped and posed for me, but it wasn't the same without the snow.

I left feeling content. I could finally cross a photo of a maiko or geiko in the snow off my bucket list. I was tired, cold, and hungry, but I was glad I had made my way to Miyagawa-cho and waited out the snow.

When you show up, most of the time good things happen. I hope wherever you show up in 2015 and beyond, good things happen to you, too!

Happy New Year, everyone!