Geisha Tea House
Even for those of us who are long term residents of Kyoto, it's rare we ever see a real Maiko (apprentice Geisha) or Geiko (full-fledged Geisha) in the streets of Kyoto. Yes, there are some special times of the year when it's possible to see them at certain public events like the two Hanatouro and certain Shinto holy days. If you ever do see one on the streets, they are likely in a hurry and they are not going to stop for you to photograph them!
However there are a number of fake Geisha in Kyoto, the easiest way to know they are fake is that they can't walk very gracefully in "Geta" or "Okobo" (the traditional wooden shoes Geisha wear) or they are wearing a different type of footwear (most likely "Zōri"). Sometimes the fakes will even pose for/with you for a photo. There are two common types of fakes: firstly tourist who pay money to get dressed up as Geisha and have their photos taken at famous spots in Kyoto; secondly actors paid to dress up as Geisha for tourism promotional purposes.
The photo above is of a Geisha Tea House (called "Ochaya" in Japanese), and it's where real Geisha entertain clients. The light with three back characters and a white background is the name of this Ochaya. The names of each of the Geisha that entertain in this place are on small wooden "business cards" on each side of the light. This Ochaya is in the Gion Kobu Geisha district on Hanamikoji Dori. Ochaya are very exclusive establishments and are not normally open to the general public.
Hanamikoji Dori is in the Gion district of Kyoto. It crosses over Shijo Dori about 3 blocks up from the Kamogawa (Kamo river). The traditional neighbourhood with this and many other Ochaya is on the south side of Hanamikoji Dori. The nearest train station is Gion-Shijo on the Keihan Railway. At little bit further away, is Kawaramachi station on the Hankyu Railway.
This this photo was captured in with a Nikon D700 and an AF 50f/1.8 lens. I made the following adjustments to the image in iPhoto: firstly it was rotated 1 degree to remove a slight tilt; secondly I brightened the shadow areas; thirdly I increased the definition; finally I adjusted the white balance to make the image warmer.