The Kamishichiken district, the oldest of five hanamachi in Kyoto, seems to be so tranquil nowadays. The area lost its most famous faces and business suffered heavily. I visit Kamishichiken regularly, but this place resembles a ghost town sometimes, especially in winter and after dark. For me, Kamishichiken has a very peaceful and calming atmosphere, though. It’s certainly the best place to completely relax, far far away from the busy streets of Gion or Pontocho. Kamishichiken is ancient, quiet, and mysterious. And it gained new blood last Autumn!
I was happy to see the recent debuts of maiko Naomai, Ichiume, and Ichigiku. All of them seem to be incredibly intelligent and dedicated. I’ve met Naomai and Ichiume before, so I was pleased to join a 2-hour ozashiki with Ichigiku this time.
I won’t share any written details of this private gathering, but let the photos speak for themselves.
Ichigiku, prior to her maiko career, came to Kyoto with her parents to do some general sightseeing. They went for a walk to Kamishichiken and saw a poster of the Kitano Odori, held at Kamishichiken Kaburenjo. Ichigiku (it’s not her real name, though) became determined to dance on the same stage one day. She fulfilled her dream this year and took part in her first Kitano Odori.
Ichigiku is one of the youngest maiko in Kyoto. She debuted at the age of 15 last Autumn and just had her 16th birthday this April. Such a sudden debut was possible due to Kamishichiken’s policy of a shorter shikomi period
— the Ichi okiya decided on only 6 months, not the usual 1 year.
Ichigiku loves December kanzashi with maneki boards, dance “Momiji no Hashi”, but first of all she loves eating ramen.
Update, August 2020: Unfortunately, it seems that Ichigiku is now retired.