After I had been photographing geisha and maiko for a few years, I wanted to try something new. I had photographed them dancing many times, but only with their mai ougi (dance fans). I wanted to try some new props, like hanagasa (flower hats), kasa (umbrellas), and maple leaf branches.
The hanagasa and maple leaf branches were no problem at all. Through my friends at the ochaya where I regularly photograph, I could rent them directly from the Gion Kobu Nyokoba (the school where Gion’s geiko and maiko learn to dance).
The most common hanagasa have pale pink and yellow flowers, and the maple leaf branches are a bright reddish orange. Both props photograph beautifully.
Then I asked for an umbrella or parasol (kasa). I had seen them used in dances at Kyo Odori and elsewhere, and I was dying to make some photographs of a maiko or geiko dancing with one. As a result, I was particularly excited the day I was to photograph the maiko Makiko dancing with one.