Travel and Cultural Photographer Robert van Koesveld is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this documentary photography.  From his book ‘Geiko & Maiko of Kyoto‘ .  To see Robert’s body of work click on any photograph.


Toshimana during preparations for a photo-shoot portraying Heian era Princess Kaguya; it involved a specialized costume dresser and two wig dressers.


Tomitae from Gion Higashi at the time of her erikae or debut as a fully trained geiko. She is also an accomplished kota musician.


Toshimana, from the Miyagawacho Kagai, by a temple window


For a long time in his work, Robert has been drawn to the quality of ‘presence’. In this living culture of geiko and maiko, he found a deeper understanding of the process by which ‘ordinary’ young women, over time and with considerable effort, come to embody grace and presence.


Tomitae wearing the special sakko style hair worn in the fortnight before making her erikae. She is dancing a truly wonderful and moving piece, only done at this time and accompanied by Tsunekazu, a jikata.


Tomitae chats with guests at an event held during the Kyoto exhibition of Robert’s work.


Tomitsuyu during one of her regular interviews with Robert over the last five years; this May he will photograph her during her debut as a geiko. She aims to develop her skills as a traditional nagauta singer.


Behind this transformation are communities of teachers and craftspeople and the proprietors of traditional tea-houses in each kagai (geiko district). There is also a diverse calendar of contributions to the broader Kyoto community life, as well as major theater events and regular evening soirees.


Geiko in lion costume during the annual Odori performance.


An image exploring the legend of Princess Kaguya. Robert considers the C9-12th tale has particular resonance with the current world of the Kagai and it’s timeless celebrities.


See also:

Book By Robert Van Koesveld