The maiko Tanewaka of Miyagawa-cho ended her career one month ago at the beginning of August, but her career began in January 2007 with her omisedashi (debut). New maiko walk around their district accompanied by an older man or woman and are introduced to the ochaya (tea houses) there. This photograph was taken during the very first moments of Tanewaka’s misedashi. Her okiya (the house where she lives) is down a very narrow alley just off the main street of Miyagawa-cho.
I was standing to the left of the entrance, and three young Japanese girls were standing across from me on the right. I arrived at the scene about thirty minutes early, and the three girls were already there. Since there was nothing else to do, we began talking. It turned out that these three girls had been classmates of Tanewaka, and they had come to see their childhood friend make her debut. When Tanewaka came out of her okiya, she looked bewildered for a few steps as she took in the crowd waiting for her at the mouth of the alley. (Behind me and her three friends were about twenty or thirty other photographers, many of whom began yelling at me and her friends to get out of the way because we were ruining their shots. You have to love the intelligence and good manners of photographers in Kyoto.)
After a few steps, Tanewaka noticed her three friends. For an instant she looked relieved to see some familiar faces, and then she began to wave joyfully at them. It is one of my favorite moments of her misedashi.