For centuries, Kyoto was revered as the capital of Japan, and although Tokyo is the country’s modern capital, Kyoto is still a center of art and culture. The city was untouched during World War II and boasts a historically preserved landscape of lantern-lined streets, traditional wooden teahouses, and typical Japanese designs.
Our first stop was Fushimi-inari, one of the most popular shrines in Japan. Located at the base of Mount Inari, this eighth-century structure is composed of five Shinto shrines that were built to honor Inari, the god of rice. It's a photographers dream with a magnificent tunnel of an estimated 10,000 red torii gates, which line a 2.5-mile route up to the mountain.
Geisha are highly skilled entertainers who appear at high-end dinners, private parties and special events to add a special touch to the proceedings. They are NOT prostitutes, despite various silly rumors and portrayals in certain books and movies. Rather, they are ladies who have trained for years in the traditional Japanese arts to become the perfect entertainers.
Kyoto is the heart of Japan’s geisha world. In Kyoto, however here, fully-fledged geisha are properly called geiko (pronounced “gay-ko”). Young ladies, usually between the ages of 15 and 20, train for five years to become a geiko. During this period, they are known as maiko (pronounced “my-ko”). Knowledgeable insiders estimate that there are about 100 geiko and 100 maiko in Kyoto. Other cities, like Tokyo, have some version of geisha, but they don’t usually undergo the strict training that defines Kyoto’s maiko and geiko.