Gion in July
Gion is Kyoto’s “Geisha District”. There’s another, older, one — so I’ve been told — now defunct, and one can still see Geisha and Maiko-san (Geisha Novices) aplenty in Ponto-cho, just across the Kamo River, behind where this photo was taken — during one of my early morning strolls around Kyoto. In it I’m facing east, looking down “Shi-jo Dori” (4th Street) towards one of Japan’s most venerated Shinto Shrines, “Yasaka Jinja”. Just to the left of me, out of (the picture’s) frame is Nawate Dori (“dori” is one of the words for “street”, by the way). And just about 60 feet down Nawate Dori on the left, just past “Bali-Bali” (surprisingly, a Balinese restaurant) is “Cafe Terrace”, a favorite little coffee shop. This was taken in July 2004. The banners all along the street on the left-hand side proclaim that it’s “Gion Matsuri” (Gion Festival) time, held throughout July, but culminating with a grand parade of huge, multi-storied, wheeled shrines, since 1533, but whose origins go back to the late 9th Century.