Kyoto artists offer new year greetings

In the former capital of Japan, Kyoto, professional animators known as “geiko” and their apprentices known as “maïko” began to offer their wishes at the start of the New Year.

Kyoto’s entertainment districts observe “kotohajime,” which literally means “the beginning of things,” on December 13th. Today marks the start of preparations for the New Year.

Geiko and maiko traditionally visit their teachers for kotohajime, as well as the shops they frequent. Some entertainment districts canceled tours last year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Monday, geiko and maiko from Gion Kobu district visited their dance teacher, Inoue Yachiyo, a designated living national treasure, at his rehearsal hall in Higashiyama district.

The women exchanged greetings in a room decorated with rows of mochi rice cake offerings. They wore brightly colored kimonos.

The students wished their teacher a happy new year and asked for his continued support. Inoue thanked them and gave them celebratory folding fans.

A 16-year-old maiko, Asuha, says there were days during the pandemic when she didn’t have a job. She says her teacher encouraged her to dance well when she debuted at Miyako Odori’s show in April of next year.

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