exploring gion’s rain-soaked alleys was a magical experience. the machiya architecture with its lovely lanterns, bamboo inu yarai, and ceramic roof tiles all add to to the mysterious beauty of this well-known geisha district. i was lucky enough to catch a glimpse of both geiko and meiko—two in the back of a black car, and i passed another in a narrow alley. i do not have photos of these encounters as i decided to constrain my gaijin instincts and respect their privacy, but i was excited to find that they are even more stunning and graceful in person. hopefully these traditional artists continue to perform in the future. i have a lot of respect for women who brave the rain in a kimono.