How to ask for a picture with a Maiko or a Geisha – Japan Travel Tip

Kyoto is world famous for its Gion District and the Geisha that work there.  If you would like to take pictures of Geisha or Maiko – there is a polite way to ask for a photo with them.

These days there has been somewhat of a backlash against tourists taking photos of Maiko or Geisha without permission.  So in this blog – we will teach you how to politely ask for a photo with a Geisha.

To ask for a picture with a Maiko or Geisha in Japanese

You can say:

すみません、写真を一枚撮らせていただけないでしょうか? Sumimasen, shashin o ichi mai torasete itadakenai deshouka?’

(Excuse me, may I take a photo of you?)


This is a very polite way of asking – and is very non-aggressive. You can also use this to ask about pictures at maid cafes, cosplayers, and other people that are sort of “public figures” in Japan.

If the Geisha replies with ’すみません、今はちょっと.. Sumimasen, ima wa chotto..’ (I’m sorry, now is not a good time..)

You can reply with ‘わかりました。 Wakarimashita.’ (I understand.)

Do’s for asking for a photo with a Geisha:

  • Read the situation (Are they busy?)
  • Would asking for their photo inconvenience them?

Don’ts for asking for a photo with a Geisha:

  • Stop them forcefully
  • Chase the geisha down the street
  • Take a selfie photo without their permission

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