Thursday, February 28, 2019

Kitano Tenmangu Plum Blossoms; Geisha


Kitano Tenmangu Plum Blossom Fesival 2019 - Part 2; Maiko

The following is a continuation of the Plum Blossom Festival which focuses on the special guest stars of the festival; the maiko (apprentice geisha) and geiko (geisha) who appear for photo ops and serve tea for the special tea ceremony which is held during this day at the shrine each year.

Photo journal from 2/25/2019

A maiko. Note the hair ornaments; the kanzashi, and the colorful inner layers of the kimono.

Girls dressed as an oiran and a maiko.
Oiran were Edo period courtesans, distinguished by elaborate hair ornaments including tortoise shell hair pins, tall shoes, a large sash tied in the front, lip makeup applied only to the lower lip and, during some time periods and places, teeth that are painted black (because it was considered unsightly to bare the whiteness of your teeth).

A wider shot with the camera held higher to get above the heads in the crowd.

A shot which frames the whites of her eyes very well.

Blackened teeth, a historic oddity of Japanese fashions which is recreated here.

The exchange of business cards; conducted even by maiko.
This maiko is exchanging her business with that of a photographer.

Note the makeup lines on the back on the maiko's neck.

Visitors enjoying the garden while wearing kimono.

Earing mochi. The mochi here seems to be filled with anko, red bean paste.

Posing for photos under a garden parasol.

Maiko going for a walk in the garden with her handlers.
Note the long obi which hangs at her back.
I see no indication that would indicate which of the 5 Kagai (geisha schools); sometimes during performance you can see lanterns or banner with the one of the emblems from the five kagai of Kyoto.

Plum blossoms in the foreground.

A rare chance to get a maiko alone in a frame.

A little at play in the garden who stops in he tracks to stare at the girl in oiran makeup.

Highly contrasting colors.

Maiko in the tea garden.

Note the geiko (geisha) in the background with fewer hair ornaments and the white inner lining of the kimono.

Maiko with a nice facial expression.

A fashionable young woman taking photos, having gotten dressed up for this outing.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Kitano Tenmangu Plum Blossom Festival Pt.1


Kitano Tenmangu 2019

Kitano Tenmangu Shrine in Kyoto is a shrine dedicated to Tenjin; the god of scholarship, learning and writing. Part of Tenjin's mythology connects him to plum blossoms. Viewing plum blossoms was a popular past time of nobles in ancient Japan, and Tenjin is connected with a famous plum tree which is said to have moved itself when it's master was unjustly exiled (around 903) away from the capital his beloved plum tree flew from Kyoto to Kyushu to honor him. This is why the five petal plum blossom is the emblem of Tenjin shrines.

As the deity of scholarship, Tenjin Shrines are a popular place for students to pray for good luck in their studies. Coincidentally, in modern Japan, the plum blossoms bloom in February which is when the results of year-end exams are announced, making this an appropriate time for all sorts of people to come to enjoy the plum trees and appeal to Tenjin.

Kitano Tenmangu is a very splendid example of traditional shrine architecture, a popular place for tourist, the site of (or nearby) many interesting festivals (Yokkai Street, Kyo no Tanabata, Fall lightup, Hirano Shrine Oukasai ...).

Every month, on the 25th, the shrine observes a Tenjin Day (this is because Tenjin's birthday was on February 25th and his exile day was on June 25th, so now the 25th of each month is honored). The shrine uses Tenjin Day to  hosts a flea market where many interesting vendors come to sell their wares from 06:00 to 21:00. After sunset, the shrine lights up, with flood lights illuminating the buildings and the 350 stone lanterns and 250 hanging lanterns being lit (mostly with electric lights or candles).

Each year February 25th is a special day as the festival as it combines, Tenjin's birthday, the monthly Tenjin Day festival and the blooming plum blossoms which all combine into the Kitano Tenmangu Ume Matsuri (plum festival). During the festival there are the monthly markets and light ups in addition to a lively scene of shrine activity (like people coming for prayers and shrine staff conducting ceremonies), a special opening of the treasure house (which is open only during limited windows during the year and features many fine swords, sets of armor, works of art and many artifacts).

The highlight of the Plum Blossom Festival is the appearance of geiko (geisha) and maiko (apprentice geisha) who conduct a tea ceremony in the gated garden area (admissible for a special fee). The geisha journal will be the subject of the following post (tomorrow).

The following photo journal is from 2/25/2019:

A wider shot. Using a CPL to control the glare from the stream and make it look clearer.

The treasure house, near the main gate of the shrine.

Miko performing a kagura dance on a small shrine stage.

A shrine maiden, miko, performing a kagura, shrine dance, to purify visitors.
Note the instrument that she is holding, a kagura suzu.

Pink and white plum blossoms near the Treasury.

The main sanctuary of the shrine.

Ornate lanterns hanging near the main shrine.

A stone lantern and plum blossoms.

Near the open area where the tea ceremony is being held.

Glass ornaments with candles in the plum garden.

Using a CPL (circular polarization filter) to control the glare off of the glass orbs.

A beautiful clear sky for the festival, ideal for taking memorable photos.

Visitors wearing kimono.

Focusing on the glass orb in the foreground.

Focusing on the nearest blossoms in the deeper part of the field of view.

Beautiful pink blossoms.

Plum blossoms.

Using a wide angle Eken H9s to shoot the garden.

Reworked landscaping is looking good in the garden (the was also a small stream added to the shrine, so there have been some major changes recently).
Wider shot of the new garden paths.

Using a pop filter to improve the color of the foliage, blooms and skin tones.

Blossoms with a balcony out of focus in the background.

Beautiful spring colors.

Mossy stone walls of the stream bank.

Nice colors.

The Tenjin River passing through the Japanese Maple (Momiji) Garden (which also has a number of plum trees).

Using a collapsible hood to control the sunlight coming in from the sides.
A stream of people pushing thought the path which is made narrower by the vendor stalls.

A vendor selling carvings of the 12 zodiac animals, junishi, in historic costumes.

A vendor selling ornate, carved bamboo stalks.

A wide angle shot of the shrine entrance.