First Love

Winter Blossom by Vic Briggs

“With thee conversing I forget all time,

All seasons and their change, all please alike”

~  John Milton, Paradise Lost ~


About this image: Winter blossom in Kyoto, Japan. Budding on the threshold of Spring perhaps not unlike a first love.

Daily Prompt: That’s Amore

Beneath the mask | Gion Geishas

A Geiko Trio by Vic Briggs

“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” – Oscar Wilde

We are all mask-wearers. Anonymity allows us to reveal parts of ourselves that would otherwise remain occluded. It offers a degree of freedom that the pressure of maintaining a certain image in our everyday life does not. Our masks hide our true face whilst simultaneously allowing for another truth to emerge, a deeper and perhaps more dangerous one.

In hiding the features of our true identity, the mask becomes a second skin. The wearer undergoes a psychic change; one could almost say that the mask establishes a new being of its own: the self transformed. Both hiding and revealing personalities and moods, from long forgotten times and to this day, the mask remains the ultimate disguise.

Whether it is the anonymity provided by an online presence or perhaps the process of applying makeup to one’s face before stepping out into the world, whether it is the manner in which we dress or the mode of speech that we adopt and adapt as circumstances change… we all have a mask at hand and oftentimes it becomes difficult to distinguish between mask and wearer. Who owns whom?


About the above image: I had several ideas for today’s theme, but the idea of a disguise works rather well with the secretive nature of traditional Japanese entertainers, whose clientele will never see their “real” appearance or know their birth-given name (the women are given a geiko name when they complete their training and are admitted as full members into the sisterhood). They exist – in the public sphere at least – only when in disguise.

Taken on a sunlit winter day in Kyoto, this image captures three geiko (or geisha) who have ventured out of doors. I observed them as they retired to a secluded courtyard in Gion and took turns in front of the camera. Although I can only make a guess as to the reason for this outing, I like to imagine that they had only recently advanced from the position of maiko to that of a geiko and were perhaps impatient to capture it on film in order to share the event with their families and friends.

Daily Prompt: Brilliant Disguise

Goldfish Tales

Goeido Hall, Higashi Honganji Kyoto by Vic Briggs

The Goeido is the main hall of the Higashi Honganji (East Honganji) temple. The Goeido is Kyoto’s largest wooden structure and it is dedicated to Shinran, the founder of the Otani faction of Jodo-shin (True Pure Land) Buddhism.

Located in the centre of Kyoto, a ten minute walk from the main railway station, the temple is an oasis of peace and a wonderful place to experience contemporary Japanese Buddhism or retire for a quiet hour of introspection. 

Goeido's Dragon by Vic Briggs

This Japanese dragon (竜 ryū) resides in the Goeido’s courtyard. Its wingless style, with a serpentine body and clawed feet, is influenced by Chinese art. In Japanese mythology the dragon represents a water deity associated with rainfall.

Goldfish and Tree by Vic Briggs

Legends tell of dragons living in ponds and lakes near temples, bringing good fortune and prosperity. Although I have been unable to capture one on film, I was able to find a goldfish for you instead.

Make a wish. Or three.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threes

Geiko 芸子 Geisha

Geisha by Vic Briggs

The image of a Geiko on a sunlit February afternoon in Kyoto, Japan during a photo shoot.

Geiko is the Kyoto dialect for geisha, and although there are geisha in several cities across Japan, the country’s former capital maintains its place of prominence amongst those who wish to experience the entertaining powers of a traditional Japanese hostess. Versed in the art of conversation, dance and music the geisha is the embodiment of 17th century charm and manners in a country with an otherwise futuristic edge.

I was lucky to capture this image, stolen from under the nose of a professional photographer who was busy rearranging their equipment while the young woman tempered the unusually bright winter light with her parasol. Luckier still since the geisha are  both fond of their privacy and rather camera shy. They will flee from the curious gaze of onlookers quicker than it takes to say “flash” so that all the intruders are left to glimpse is the back of a kimono disappearing around the twist of an alley. Or so I am told.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Perspective

Winter Dreams

As a child I loved every season for the adventures they had in store. Spring was awash with cherry blossoms, heavy coats a long-forgotten memory even before the last snow had melted away. Muddy boots were of no consequence to those of us determined enough to venture outdoors.

Summers found me hidden in the watermelon patch or on a spree to rob the best trees in the neighbourhood of their juiciest fruit. Did you ever wonder if those Russian novels had any basis in reality? My childhood was filled with fiction-like escapades. I did not know it then, but it was idillic – complete with treasure maps hidden at the bottom of a lake in the proverbial bottle.

Then there were Autumns… Naked feet stomping the grapes in my grandfather’s barrel. We laughed into the night so that the wine may be a happy one. Delighting in its must, we dreamt of the day when we’d be old enough to have the truth teased out of us by a taste of home-made nectar.

Winters were my favourite time of the year. Hidden on the stove, wind and snow making windows bud white with ice-flowers, one story weaved into another. It was a time of magic. Imagination ran free. The impossible was within reach and far-away places, real and fictitious, were all only one page away.

Japan Winter

Weekly Photo Challenge: Object