“Geisha,” so the book says “are female professional entertainers whose knowledge of traditional arts, skills at verbal repartee, and ability to keep a secret win them the respect, and sometimes love, of their well healed and often inluential clients”
I arrive at Pontocho street at sundown, a thin whisp of a street packed full of expensive restaurants and extablishments and famous as being one of the places you need to go to find Geisha. There’s probably a lot of people who would be a bit suspicious of a female escort for the rich and influential who is just hired for their conversation skills (and I haven’t read any of the literature so don’t critise me for my ignorance) and I would certainly count myself among those.
So I am not surprised when I find that the whitefaced Geisha seem reticent with the public attention and tend to move quickly from location to location. They seem to have a knack of avoiding the public gaze of the many tourists that have come to gawk and take photos (and I would certainly count myself among those…)
I try to take a photo looking into the Geisha compound, catching one quick, but far too blurred, one before a security guard steps into the picture and I skulk away. As I walk down Pontocho street another white faced girl passes at speed, head down and moving surprisingly quickly and quietly given that she is walking in those heels. Another blurred photo and then she disapears into a restaurant.
I wait outside the Geisha compound with some of the other tourists and when three Geisha walk out I grab a distant shot of the three waiting for a cab. They all look very youung (one of them looks as young as 12 years old but you just can’t tell for sure under all that makeup) As they get into the cab I move closer as they are ushered into a cab by a very apologetic sounding in awe cab driver (if you think Paris Hilton has a hard job exiting a cab without flashing her minge you should see how hard it is to get into a cab when wearing fifty million layers of dress and clippityclop wooden clog sandles) but, sensing their awkwardness towards the camera, can’t bring myself to take a photo.
And so I just stand and watch with the massing crowd, in awe of the idea and hoping that there’s nothing more to it than that.