Stepping back in time in beautiful Gion, Kyoto

As I walk along the streets of Gion, I feel like I’m stepping back in time. Flanking both sides of the streets are tradtional Japanese houses called machiya; some of which are ochaya (tea houses). The machiya are mostly wooden, two-storey buildings. There are latticed windows and doors on the ground floor and reed blinds hang on the upper floors, moving gently with the breeze. Above a building, is a tree which looks like it is growing on top of a roof. Standing tall between the two-storey buildings, it makes an interesting sight. This is Kyoto’s most famous geisha district.

Although the structures of Gion at first glance, seem quite ordinary, there is a quiet beauty and mesmerising charm about them.

These buildings have been around since the 1500s. When I studied the buildings, I saw pretty motifs decorating the structures in a discreet way. The roof tiles are beautiful and different from those I’ve seen. The curves of the tile formation look like waves when viewed from a distance.

This is the setting of Arthur Golden’s bestselling novel, Memoirs of a Geisha, whose story was later made into a movie of the same title. My way of capturing this beautiful setting, other than with a camera, is to create a zentangle-like drawing with the motifs I saw.

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