Preparations for the New Year's season in Kyoto began on Dec. 13, as "maiko," or apprentice geishas, and "geiko" performers made rounds in the Gion entertainment district to offer greetings to their dance master and tea houses.
As part of the "kotohajime" ritual, maiko and geiko dressed in colorful kimonos visited the home of Inoue Yachiyo, a living national treasure and the master of the Inoue school of Kyomai dance. Last year, the ritual was scaled down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a room adorned with stacks of New Year's "kagami mochi" rice cakes, the Gion Kobu performers lined up to greet Inoue, bowing as they thanked her for her guidance this year and wished her well in the New Year.
In return, Inoue handed them Japanese dance paper fans decorated with designs depicting pine and plum to celebrate the New Year, along with encouraging words such as "Do your best at the Miyako Odori (in spring)" and "Good luck."