Visitors to Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto got a glimpse of an exotic side of Japan on July 7 when 100 or so geisha and apprentices turned up to pray for luck and professional success.
Arrayed in lightweight "yukata" cotton kimono and perfectly coiffed, these "geiko" and "maiko" maidens braved the summer heat and crowds of sightseers to take part in the traditional "osendo" prayer.
Clad in newly pressed yukata, these apprentices of Yachiyo Inoue, the master of a "kyo-mai" style of traditional dance, took part in a purification ceremony before strolling around the shrine grounds.
In accordance with custom, they gave prayers for greater skill in their chosen performing art and for help in making it through the blistering summer to come.
The geiko and maiko are based in the historic Gion-Kobu district, one of Kyoto’s five "kagai," or traditional entertainment areas. Their shrine visit coincided with the city's annual Gion Matsuri festival, which runs through July.
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