Photographs by Naoyuki Ogino
Kodansha International, hardback, 139 p.
This is the story of a contemporary Japanese teenager who, in a search for an identity, became fascinated with the world of geiko-as Kyoto's geisha are known-and discovered in herself the will and the commitment to overcome the many years of apprenticeship necessary to become one.Given my fascination with traditional Japanese arts and my interest in photography, when I came across this book in the bookstore earlier this year, I knew that it had to come home with me!
It is a story related by a young Japanese photographer who grew up overseas, and who also was captivated by the lives led by these women who choose to dedicate their lives to their art. He began following and documenting the life of the teenager, Komomo, as she studied and grew into her role.
The photographs are accompanied by autobiographical text and captions by Komomo, as she shares her thoughts and emotions, and describes the life of a Kyoto apprentice. It is an illuminating view of seven years in the life of a very unique young woman.
The focus of the book is certainly the beautiful photographs, so the text is a bit sparse, but we still get an idea of the girl who became the geiko, Komomo, and the journey that took her there. I’ve read some other books on geisha, like Liza Dalby’s Geisha, or Geisha of Gion (Geisha: A Life, US title) by Mineko Iwasaki, but it was interesting to get a modern look at the hanamachi (geisha district) through the eyes of a “twenty-first century geisha”. And I’m sure I’ll return to it often to admire the gorgeous photos. Recommended.
© Naoyuki Ogino
Short interview with Komomo
Naoyuki Ogino's online photo gallery
More photos from the book can be seen here.
My Rating: 4/5
*cross-posted on my blog.