KYOTO • Even national treasures need a fast and easy way to get about town.
These apprentice geishas, or "maiko" - considered one of Japan's cultural treasures - from Kyoto, were spotted on an escalator at the city's station last week. They were travelling from the city to Tokyo by Shinkansen bullet train.
About 40 of them performed traditional dances in Tokyo as part of a summer campaign to promote travel to Kyoto.
Maiko are young geishas aged between 15 and 21. They entertain guests by serving sake, performing dances and songs, and playing instruments. "Mai" refers to "dance" and "ko" means "specialist of".
Being picked to be a maiko is no mean feat. The women have to practise Japanese dance, tea ceremony rituals, shamisen (a traditional three-string Japanese instrument), flower arrangement and other forms of the Japanese culture to make the cut.