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  • Robin Yong

雪籠り Yuki Gomori

Updated: Jan 4

雪籠り Yuki Gomori - Seclude from cold snowy winter and stay indoors as wild animals hibernate - a Haiku seasonal word. In snowy regions, people often stay indoors during the winter. They wait for the long winter to end while reading a book under the kotatsu or making preparations for the spring field work by the hearth.

I usually meet up with Tomitsuyu on the 26th of December every year, on her last day of work before the teahouse close for their year-end break. We usually go to the temples and have a couple of memorable photos along the way. The afternoons are usually spent admiring the winter blooms and the zen temple environments. This year is no different. I know I was in Japan barely 3 weeks ago. But my workplace has a 10 day holiday break, so I decided to come back again. I think after the pandemic, we have learnt to cherish each other more...

It seldom snows in Kyoto though, I have only seen it twice during my 31 trips to Japan. Maybe it may not be a bad thing for my geisha friends, because their kimonos are not thick and they can't wear anything beneath it. They are not suppose to put a coat or blanket over their kimonos as well. Winter is a quiet time in Kyoto. Cold temperatures keep most visitors away, but the city actually has plenty of winter charm. The camellia flowers are in full bloom during December and the Apricot and Plum Blossoms in February. It occasionally snows in January and February, and the blanket of white adds a magical quality to the temple grounds. This is also the season where hotels are at their cheapest rates and temples, parks and restaurants and shops least crowded.

This is my favourite geisha photo to date, (although I have still quite a lot more photos yet to be processed...). The best part of the photo is the unusual color palette. The combination colors of cyan, orange, black, white and brown is seldom used together. Tomitsuyu was initially worried about the color of her cyan tenugui. But I think the colors bring out the winter theme nicely...

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