Sunday, 23 June 2013

Gion - One afternoon, One morning (I)

I am taking you to Gion for a new series of street photos. Gion is an old district of Kyoto, built to accommodate the needs of travellers and visitors to the Yasaka shrine. It eventually evolved to become one of the most exclusive and well-known geisha districts in Japan. The region is both a major tourist hub and a popular nightlife spot for locals. Streets vary dramatically in character, and quiet traditional streets lean upon modern ones. I hope you will share my umbrella. There will be more...

For Carina

The polaroid frames were provided by fuzzimo, thank you!


  1. Top shot so lovely Marie, the way the red tones, umbrella, shop facade and especially shop window display, leap out against ambient no-colour overcast,

    Second shot interesting but scary. One instinctively wished that some Higher Power with a Big Scissors might reach in and snip all those godawful wires. Headache question: which is more dreadful: the ugly world people have made with too many wires, or the subsequent wireless world, in which one is continually spied-upon through the Aether, without even knowing or seeing the tracks?

    (Rain coming now straight this way across the big water from where you are, in a great looping upper-atmospheric river that looks on the sat-maps like a giant curving livid red-and-yellow overheated wire. Where is Big Scissors please?)

  2. By the by, speaking of the Gion and geishas, wondered if you might happen to know this breathtakingly great film by Mizoguchi Kenji, Sisters of the Gion (1936)?

  3. I'm with Tom on that first shot, Marie. I must admit to a fondness for that unruly electric weave in the second (though I wouldn't want to be walking anywhere near it).

  4. Thank you Tom and WB, very nice to see you here this morning. Japan is such a hyper-wired country. It is one of the first things that stroke me when I landed in this country. The shameless display of wires. So ugly it's almost beautiful. Giant meshes, knots everywhere. I have heard some explanations for it but hmmm.. I don't know. One of them says that because of the frequent earthquakes it is more convenient to have all this "stuff" above ground. Not sure how that works.
    Wireless is an interesting word isn't it. Wireless but still connected. How is that possible?
    Big Scissors must have a lot on his plate. A plate of spaghetti I suppose.
    Has rain washed down those clouds on the other side of the big water?
    I haven't seen Sisters of the Gion, Tom, thank you for the video. I started watching waiting for the subtitles but they didn't show up. Such a pity. In any case the pictures are wonderful. I will try to look for a subtitled version.

  5. Marie, the incredible unmatched tracking shots and infinitely subtle physical emotional explorations of Mizoguchi might almost be best encountered, first time round, sans the subtitles. Though of course a bit of trawling in the obvious cyber-waters will net the subtitles easily enough, should you care to take the after all not all that terrific amount of time required. And they will obviously add a lot. Still I find I do deeply enjoy watching this film, and the director's other masterpieces of the 1930s, without having the slightest knowledge of the language in which the dialogue s spoken. Mizoguchi like Ozu to me seems a genius of such proportion that a lifetime of enjoying and studying his work would not be enough.

    ...and, appreciating the comments above, but, respectfully... while no particular lover of order-for-order's sake, and deferring in matters of camera-bug expertise to my esteemed photographer friends, I still can't overcome, re. shot #2, the muffled plaint of that still small Oh-No! voice within, which when ignored for long rises up to scream out anew against grid shock in all its several forms and aspects. See esp. images 4-5-6-7 in that linked post. To say again, we have this sort of thing "up close and personal" here in the home (aka haunted house), such as it is; indeed just two nights ago, risking electrocution while standing wobbily upon two chairs attempting to fiddle-about with the latest failed 100 year old electrical outlet, I very tentatively inserted a screwdriver into a rusty hole, without looking (necessarily that, as I cannot bend my accident-whacky neck), half expecting, half fearing, half hoping for the sparking climax and sudden terminus of all problems... no such luck. But I am still awaiting the form of aesthetic elevation that will allow me to subdue this persistent righteous dread of wires and rust and mould as immediate environmental calamities waiting to happen. And that dread kinda sorta affects my ability to view insane tangles of exposed electrical lines as charming or beautiful or awesome -- I'd instead see such knots of potential hazard more as evidence of, again, collective insanity in the species.

  6. Tom, the first bits of the Mizoguchi film made me want to watch more of it, avec ou sans subtitles. If you say it can be watched without any knowledge of the language it must be a truly outstanding film, I am very much looking forward to this experience.
    The cables, well, you are right, the word "beauty" might be out of place here. The picture was meant as a documentation, a snapshot of the reality of the streets rather than a beautiful setting. The beauty I find in this insane a mesh of cables, hmm, how can I explain, it is closer to the beauty one can find in pattern, repetitions, shapes. Again, beauty is not the right word. There is something in the great disorder found in the middle of the great order. The old and new, the ultra modern and ultra breaking down. A constant discrepancy between what things appear to be and what they really are. This is what is appealing to me. But one can probably only find beauty and poetry in mud, mould, mess, rust, decay, if one doesn't have to be in close contact with those things in daily reality and can just walk away back to our comfortable life after scratching the surface of it, passing one finger in dust, drawing a beautiful pattern and then that's it. Oh that image #4 in your post.....