Miko, or Shinto shrine maidens, can often be seen selling amulets, taking part in ceremonies, or swiftly moving from one building to another. Young, identically dressed women who once had important roles within the religion, but nowadays are generally just University students helping out on a part-time basis.
Still, regardless of their status, or level of training, getting the chance for a quick portrait isn’t a common occurrence. At least not for me it isn’t, anyway. So here — in monochrome as it seemed best suited to the almost timeless nature of her position — is a rare photo of a Miko quietly going about her business.
A little over four years ago I took this photo of an old lady stood at the door of her wonderfully ramshackle Tokyo home. It has been a favourite of mine ever since, and it’s an image that has appeared in and on numerous publications and websites. Of course selling photos is always nice, but that’s not why I like it so much. The reason, I think, is because it encompasses everything I find fascinating about old Tokyo — pretty much condensing all its people and places into one single image.
On a Photowalk Tour last weekend, however, I passed by for the first time in a while. And there, on the corner, was the same house. But now it’s no longer a home — just a stripped bare empty building. A sight that needless to say was terribly sad to say the least.