Kodai Yuzen Experience

Back in April, I went to Kyoto to experience several traditional crafts, including yuzen dyeing. There were a couple of places that offered it, but honestly, neither of them are true yuzen dyeing. It takes years of experience to get to that level. I chose Kodai Yuzen simply because I liked their designs better.

I’ve actually been struggling to write this post ever since. I wanted to write one post that would describe the process of yuzen, and my experience trying it out, much like I did with aizome. However, because it wasn’t a true yuzen experience, I found that I couldn’t connect the two. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a fun experience, but it really doesn’t tie into the true process of yuzen. So, I’ve decided to treat this post as more of a review of a Kyoto attraction than a post about the process of yuzen.

 

To start off, we phoned to make reservations and was pleasantly surprised to find that they offered English language support. We showed up and were surprised and excited to discover a true yuzen artist working on a kimono in the waiting area. His stand was incredible. The kimono was stretched over our heads in three different layers and the artist could move the fabric to any place that he chose. The area where he worked had a heat source underneath to dry out the fabric. It was incredible watching him work as we waited.

The artist's workstation.  It's a great shot of his dyes, and his heat source.

The artist’s workstation. It’s a great shot of his dyes, and his heat source.

The structure used to hold the bolt of fabric.

The structure used to hold the bolt of fabric.

A close up of the detail work.

A close up of the detail work.

The artist himself!

The artist himself!

Once our appointment time came around, we were shown into the workshop. It was a large room with a private class happening in the back corner. If I lived any closer, I would want to take this weekly class that teaches you genuine yuzen techniques!

We got to choose our item, and then the design. And there was a huge variety of designs to choose from. I chose a tumbler.  We were also able to customize our designs to a certain extent. For example, I didn’t like the black leaves that were originally on the pattern I chose. I was able to change them to blue. I just had to keep track of which stencil piece the leaves and hair were on and only use the black on the hair pieces.

Our base fabric was laid out on a board and secured with tape. Then two reference points were marked on the board to line up all the stencil pieces. Each piece was laid out, we were given a brush with the correct color, and got to work brushing in the dye. Honestly, when I was looking at my progress, I wasn’t that impressed. After the last stencil I was starting to doubt it. It looked like blobs of color that only just resembled my original design of a woman in a juni hitoe. But then, magic happened. The gentleman helping me placed one last stencil on with white stuff on it (sorry, I can’t think of a better way to describe it), scrapped it over the stencil, and suddenly, everything was outlined in white and looking beautiful.

My chosen design with the fabric secured to the board.

My chosen design with the fabric secured to the board.

One of the stencils

One of the stencils

Hard at work!

Hard at work!

Half finished.

Half finished.

The final step was to apply white paste to mimic the white lines that are a characteristic of yuzen.

The final step was to apply white paste to mimic the white lines that are a characteristic of yuzen.

The final product, signed by the artist of course!

The final product, signed by the artist of course!

Was it fun?  Yes.  Was it yuzen?  No.

It’s up to you if you want to experience it.  And it does make for a really unique and cool souvenir.

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Kyoto Shibori Museum

We arrived at the Kyoto Shibori Museum on a rainy afternoon. The first thing the master did when we opened up the door was to hand us all towels to dry off. It was a sign of good things to come!

We had booked ahead for our shibori experience. There were two choices. A scarf would require folding and clamping techniques while a furoshiki (wrapping cloth) would require winding and knotting. We all chose the furoshiki class. We were led into the classroom and to our pleasant surprise, the teacher offered to do the whole class in English!

We had twelve designs to choose from. Each one already had the stitching in place.

If you look carefully, you can see the threads already stitched into the furoshiki.

If you look carefully, you can see the threads already stitched into the furoshiki.

Six would be completely our work, and six had hari-hitta shibori knots pre-tied in them.  We all chose designs that included hari-hitta shibori.

My furoshiki came pre-tied with hari hitta knots.

My furoshiki came pre-tied with hari hitta knots.

The hari-hitta shibori knots pre-tied in my furoshiki.

A close up view of the hari-hitta shibori knots pre-tied in my furoshiki.

We also had to choose the colour of dye we wanted, red, blue, or purple. Our guide mentioned that all the shibori dyeing done in Kyoto was done with silk fabric. Cotton dyed with shibori (including yukata) was always produced in Arimatsu. Finally, we started. Everything was already stitched into the fabric. We had to pull, wrap, and tie off the threads. We were taught how to do two different techniques.

Hira Nuishime Shibori

This technique involves stitching along a line and then pulling the thread tight.

that type of shibori

Hira nuishime shibori pre-dyed and post-dyed.

My final hira huishime shibori knots.

My final hira huishime shibori knots.

Kasamaki Shibori

This technique involves stitching around the shape you want to create, pulling the thread tight, and then wrapping the threads around the cone of fabric several times.

Kasamaki shibori

Kasamaki shibori pre-dyed and post-dyed.

My completed kasamaki shibori.

My completed kasamaki shibori.

We got to use a shibori stand when we did our work. It’s basically a base with an arm holding a piece of metal that has been bent in on itself. The space is large enough to let untied thread through but it will stop a knot from passing through. We used it for all of our shibori tying. I had heard that a lot of shibori is done by machine now, and when I asked about it, our guide explained that yes, it is done by machine, and the shibori stand is the machine. Without it, a person can tie 300 dots per day. With the “machine” a person can tie 3000 dots per day. Mind blown.

All three of us working with our shibori "machines"

All three of us working with our shibori “machines”

Once the tying was done, it was on to dyeing. We had each chosen a different colour, so when we got downstairs, there were there vats of dye bubbling away merrily on the stoves. We were given GIANT chopsticks and told the keep the cloth moving until the timer went off.

Me and my giant chopsticks!

Me and my giant chopsticks!

Double, double, toil and trouble!  Fire burn and cauldron bubble!

Double, double, toil and trouble! Fire burn and cauldron bubble!

Rinsing off the excess dye.

Rinsing off the excess dye.

After rinsing, we passed off our furioshiki to be dried and went on a tour of the museum.

hon-hitta shibori knots, the ultimate level of shibori tying.  Using a stand, an artist can tie 3000 knots in a day.

hon-hitta shibori knots, the ultimate level of shibori tying. Using a stand, an artist can tie 3000 knots in a day.

We got to experiment with taking out the shibori stitching after the dyeing is complete and we got to see several different examples of different techniques.

Practicing pulling apart the knotted threads.

Practicing pulling apart the knotted threads.

We also got to try on full shibori furisode. All three of us have experience putting on kimono and were able to do it ourselves. Our guide commented that it was the first time that he had never had to help a visitor get dressed. I think he was quite amused.

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The wall hanging behind us is completely done in shibori.

The final step was to take out the knots and reveal the patterns. Our guide told us to cut off the knots, but not to pull on any of the threads yet. Once all the knots were cut off, magic happened!

I think the Kyoto Shibori Mueseum was one of my favourite activities from my weekend in Kyoto. It gave me a whole new appreciation for shibori products and I’m very temped to go back and do it again. I’d love to learn more and try to do shibori on my own. The English language support was an unexpected and priceless bonus. I also have to thank our guide for taking so many great pictures of our experience.

Their website is here and they recommend that you call ahead to make a reservation, especially if you would like the class taught in English.  Their website also has an incredible amount of information on different types of shibori. The scholar in me was drooling over it.  Rest assured, this will not be my last post on shibori!  I feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of it yet!

 

 

Miyako Odori

History

Miyako (都) means capital and odori means dance, thus making the name, “The Capital City Dance.” The first performance of Miyako Odori took place in 1872, three years after the capital was moved from Kyoto to Tokyo in 1869. The goal of Miyako Odori was to counter the loss of status that came when the capital was moved. The first dance was choreographed by Yachiyo Inouye the third, the master of the Kyomai Dance School and performed by the maiko and geiko of Gion Kobu. It was such a success that it has been performed every year since then.

Every year, there are things that remain the same about Miyako Odori. The Kyomai School is always responsible for choreographing the dancing, and the maiko and geiko of gion always perform the dances (the other geisha districts have their own dances). There are always eight scenes and the scenes always progress from a spring themed dance to summer, then autumn, then winter, and finally back to spring. The kimono for the chorus dancers are usually blue (some years are green) with small modifications in the design and the obi are usually red. Both kimono and obi always have motifs from all four seasons. The kimono are always created by kyo-yuzen artists and the obi are always woven by nishjin artists.

Undated photo of a past performance of Miyako Odori.

Undated photo of a past performance of Miyako Odori.

Undated photo of a previous Miyako Odori performance.

Undated photo of a previous Miyako Odori performance.

Undated photo of a previous Miyako Odori performance.

Undated photo of a previous Miyako Odori performance.

Logistics

Miyako Odori takes place every year during the whole month of April, with four shows happening each day. Buying tickets has gotten much easier over the last few years. Tickets start going on sale in September, and you can order them through the official website here. I went this route. They emailed me a confirmation number, and on the day of the show, I showed up at the box office, showed them the email confirmation number on my phone, and picked up the tickets. Quick and painless.

There are three classes of tickets you can choose from. Second class seats are 2500 yen, first class seats are 4200 yen, and special class seats are 4800 yen. The more you pay, the better your seats are in the theatre. In addition, the special class tickets allow you to experience a tea ceremony performed by a geiko, complete with a souvenir plate to take home. I decided to go for the special class tickets.

Getting to the theater is very easy too. The dances are held in Gion Corner, a theater that is used to showcase a mix of different traditional arts to tourists for the rest of the year. It’s in the middle of Gion and there are signs and lanterns everywhere announcing the path. If that isn’t enough, the crowds of people and the police directing them should be a dead giveaway.

One of the many posters lining the street to the theatre.

One of the many posters lining the street to the theatre.

The entrance to the theatre itself. The rain that day destroyed my plans of wearing kimono.

The entrance to the theatre itself. The rain that day destroyed my plans of wearing kimono.

The Tea Ceremony

Before we entered the tea ceremony, we went through a mini museum, if you will, that showcased a history of the tea ceremony and the instruments that are used. You can also see kimono and obi from past performances. We were all herded into a waiting room that looked out onto a beautiful Japanese garden. It had the added bonus of letting us sneak a peak of the geiko about to perform the tea ceremony preparing in a room on the other side of the garden!

A sneek peak of what was to come!

A sneek peak of what was to come!

The tea ceremony I felt was very touristy. It was held in a large room with tables and stools for the guests to sit at. As soon as you walked in, waitresses directed you where to sit and they served out the sweets on the souvenir plates. After that, the geiko and maiko came in and the shutters started snapping. I admit, I was guilty of taking photos as well, but after three or four shots just to remember everything, I put the camera down and tried to enjoy the ceremony. But I have to say, it was very difficult with the man in front of me who never put down his large, professional grade camera with a zoom lens. He was snapping photos every few seconds and it took away from the mood. No cameras were allowed during the dancing and I think the same policy should be enforced for the tea ceremony.

While the geiko was preparing the tea, the waitresses were serving bowls of matcha tea. Nobody touched the tea or the sweets until there was an announcement over the loudspeaker saying it was ok to start eating. The tea prepared by the geiko was served to one random guest by the attending maiko and once again the shutters went off like crazy. The whole thing lasted about ten minutes, and at the end, everyone wrapped up their plates and were herded through to the “souvenir center” while waiting for the theatre to open up.

The tea room.

The tea room.

The geiko preparing the tea.

The geiko preparing the tea.

My bowl of tea.

My bowl of tea.

My sweet on the souvenir plate, along with my ticket.

My sweet on the souvenir plate, along with my ticket.

The souvenir center had the usual Kyoto and Japanese souvenirs; books, postcards, snacks and such. But they also had something really unique. They had taken kimono and obi from previous years and made different souvenirs out of them. There was everything from bags and wraps to smaller things like coin purses and tissue cases. I indulged in a tissue case. And I do mean indulged because these items were not cheap. Not that I expect them to be. After all, they are made from kimono and obi created by some of Kyoto’s finest craftspeople. I just wish my budget could have allowed me to get the 7000 yen purse made from an obi that I was drooling over.

A slightly blurry photo of souvenirs made from previous year's kimono and obi.

A slightly blurry photo of souvenirs made from previous year’s kimono and obi.

A clearer photo of the souvenirs.

A clearer photo of the souvenirs.

The Dances

I guess buying my tickets six months in advance really paid off. We got front row seats! We could literally see the dancers sweating! And it gave me a great vantage point to look at their kimono and their kitsuke. Nothing in their kimono, obi, or accessories shifted or moved. It was absolute perfection. In fact, at some points I thought it was too perfect. For the chorus dancers, their obi was tied at the back with two tails. When they spun, only the bottom third of the tails moved with the force of the spin. The upper two thirds of the obi stayed perfectly in place. I suspect that there’s a couple of stitches keeping the tails together and stopping them from moving too much! Still gorgeous to watch, but I’m not going to use their kitsuke as a model to shoot for. It’s like using an airbrushed model as a reference for how skinny you should be. Just not realistic.

An obi on display. Can you spot the small stitches that keep the two halves in place?

An obi on display. Can you spot the small stitches that keep the two halves in place?

One thing I would highly recommend for everyone is to pick up the program that they offer for 700 yen. It has a description of every scene in English as well as headshots of every maiko and geiko performing on stage as either a dancer or a musician. It was a huge help for me to understand what was happening in each scene, and it’s a great souvenir for after. There are some great pictures inside of each scene that they perform.

The cover of my program for Miyako Odori.

The cover of my program for Miyako Odori.

A page out of the program with a description of a scene in both Japanese and English.

A page out of the program with a description of a scene in both Japanese and English.

A sample page of the headshots of the geiko and maiko that appear in the performance. This can also be found in the program.

A sample page of the headshots of the geiko and maiko that appear in the performance. This can also be found in the program.

Every year, the dances start with an opening scene with the chorus dancers (in the recognizable blue kimono) showcasing that highlights of the dances to come. The number of dancers for Miyako Odori has steadily declined over the years as the population of maiko and geiko has also declined. In her book Geisha, Liza Dalby claims that during her time as a geisha in 1974-75, the ranks of the dancers would be filled out with high school girls. I don’t think this is the case nowadays, but I do question some of the “maiko” in the opening scene. With front row seats, it was easy to see the dancers’ faces, and some of them looked to be on the plus side of forty years old. They still danced beautifully, but I wonder what their story is. Are they just geiko who are filling out the ranks, or are they dance students who have been recruited? All I know for sure is that some of the ladies on stage were too old to be maiko.

The remaining seven scenes always go in order from spring to summer, autumn, winter, and then back to spring. The year that I went (2015) the dances included a story about the western goddess and her peach of immortality, a scene from the Tale of Ise, Minamoto no Taiko and the Earth Spider (she had spiderwebs on her obi!) and two lovers traveling in winter mountains. The dancing was incredible, but I would have never understood what was haping without that program!

My favourite kimono! This is the Spider Queen. Check out her obi!

My favourite kimono! The dancer on the right is the Earth Spider. Check out her obi!

The Kimono

What can I say?  The kimono on display were gorgeous.  I loved examining them between the tea ceremony and the dances.  Here’s a sampling of what I saw.

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A unique green kimono!

A unique green kimono!

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Added Bonus!

Here’s a video of the 143rd Miyako Odori, the show that I got to see.

To-ji Temple Flea Market

The To-ji Temple flea market is one of the biggest flea markets in Kyoto. It’s a great place to find some bargain kimono, obi, and accessories, as well as other weird and wonderful things.

My first time stepping through the temple gate and seeing the size of the compound and the flea market.

My first time stepping through the temple gate and seeing the size of the compound and the flea market.

History of the Temple

I can’t talk about the flea market without talking about the temple too. The two are interconnected, and I’ve always loved visiting temples and shrines.

To-ji means east temple (東寺) and it was originally part of a pair of temples to guard the capital from evil spirits. The other temple was called Sai-ji (west temple 西寺). They stood on either side of the large Rashomon gate that marked the southern entrance to Kyoto. Unfortunately, both Sai-ji and Rashomon no longer exist.

The main temple at To-ji with the flea market in front.

The main temple at To-ji with the flea market in front.

Construction on To-ji began in 796. By the year 823, construction still wasn’t completed, so Emperor Saga asked the influential monk Kukai (空海)to administer the temple and complete the building project, which he eventually did. He included plans for a five-story pagoda that would be the tallest in Japan. This pagoda, unfortunately, doesn’t survive. The pagoda that is currently on the site was built in 1644.

the current pagoda at to-ji.

the current pagoda at to-ji.

Kukai was responsible for several things during his lifetime. He founded a new sect of Buddhism called Shingon Buddhism. To-ji Temple, Kukai’s retreat on Mount Koya, and the 88 temple pilgrimage on Shikoku, are all Shingon Buddhist temples. The 88 temple pilgrimage is a circle of 88 temples around the island of Shikoku. Traditionally it is walked, but it is also perfectly acceptable to drive, bike, or take a tour bus. When I moved to Shikoku in 2009 I started the pilgrimage. Just over a year later, I completed it. It’s an accomplishment that I’m very proud of and I have very fond memories of it. Because of this, Kukai and his temples (including To-ji) have a very special place in my heart.

Me at the beginning of my pilgrimage.  I'm standing next to a signpost guiding henro (pilgrims) to the next temple.

Me at the beginning of my pilgrimage. I’m standing next to a signpost guiding henro (pilgrims) to the next temple.

 

The Flea Market

The To-ji flea market is held on the 21st of the month in order to honour and commemorate the death of Kukai who died on the 21st of the third month in 835. Locally, the market is known as Kobo-san. The name is taken from Kobo Daishi (弘法大師) Kukai’s posthumous name.

The market runs from dawn to dusk, but usually wraps up around 4:30. The biggest market of the year is the one in December, and this year, luckily, the 21st fell on a Sunday so I leapt at the chance to go!

Of course, I was on the lookout for bargain kimono.  Most of the sellers had their wares in a jumbled heap in the middle and it was a free for all.

Of course, I was on the lookout for bargain kimono. Most of the sellers had their wares in a jumbled heap in the middle and it was a free for all.

Other sellers had all their kimono wrapped in tatoshi.  I didn't stay long at these booths because it was really hard to look through everything.

Other sellers had all their kimono wrapped in tatoshi. I didn’t stay long at these booths because it was really hard to look through everything.

This merchant was selling geta and zori.  She also took custom orders.

This merchant was selling geta and zori. She also took custom orders.

I love this one because the fur wrap looks like santa's beard.

I love this one because the fur wrap looks like Santa’s beard.

There were also a ton of weird and wonderful things that were not kimono on sale.  This is a window in the shape of a kimono.  I couldn't quite figure it out.

There were also a ton of weird and wonderful things that were not kimono on sale. This is a window in the shape of a kimono. I couldn’t quite figure it out.

Bonsai on sale.  There was an entire section devoted to plants and gardening.

Bonsai on sale. There was an entire section devoted to plants and gardening.

Lunchtime!  Some yakisoba really hit the spot and charged us up for the rest of the day.

Lunchtime! Some yakisoba really hit the spot and charged us up for the rest of the day.

Maneki neko (waving cats) and calligraphy brushes on sale.

Maneki neko (waving cats) and calligraphy brushes on sale.

dried fish.   The WHOLE fish.

Dried fish.
The WHOLE fish.

Anybody looking for a cannon to furnish their living room?

Anybody looking for a cannon to furnish their living room?

As you can see, we did alright.  We can't agree on who won the flea market because we both love what we bought.

As you can see, we did alright. We can’t agree on who won the flea market because we both love what we bought.

 

Now for the goodies!  Final cost, 5200 yen.

A nagoya obi with lobster and origami cranes.  This was my first purchase of the day and I love it!

A nagoya obi with lobster and origami cranes. This was my first purchase of the day and I love it!

A second nagoya obi.  This one was only 300 yen.

A second nagoya obi. This one was only 300 yen.

A fancy obijime.  When I bought it, the merchant called it "mecha cheap!"

A fancy obijime. When I bought it, the merchant called it “mecha cheap!”

three date eri.  I'm trying to expand my collection.

Three date eri. I’m trying to expand my collection.

haori himo

Haori himo

A collection of old photos with kimono.  They were 100 yen each, but I was only charged 1000 yen for 15 photos.  What a deal!

A collection of old photos with kimono. They were 100 yen each, but I was only charged 1000 yen for 15 photos. What a deal!

My one purchase unrelated to kimono.  This is a small statue of a tanuki.

My one purchase unrelated to kimono. This is a small statue of a tanuki.

Maiko Dressup: Take Two!

The second time I did a maiko dressup, I went with some friends of mine.  I didn’t do any of the booking, but my friend managed to find a studio right in front of Kyoto station that included hair, makeup, dressing, professional photography, and a trip outside for about 10,000 yen.  Just a warning, this post is mostly photos.

 

First, makeup!

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My last moments before they start applying the makeup.

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Getting the distinctive maiko neck makeup applied. The cold makeup made shivers run down my spine!

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They applied pink blush under the white so I didn’t end up looking completely like a ghost.

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The “pure white” makeup before they add the details. You can still see a hint of the pink around the eyes.

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Getting the details applied to my eyes.

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Almost done! Just the lips left.

 

After makeup came the wig.

 

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Here, they are brushing out some of my hair to cover the top and sides of the wig so it looks like it’s all my hair.

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Fitting the wig.

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The final product!

 

Finally, dressing in kimono.  They had a good selection of kimono and obi to choose from and they took care of all the dressing.

 

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Starting off with the juban. You can see their selection of kimono behind me.

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Getting dressed up like a doll. All I did was stand there with my arms out.

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Getting kanzashi fitted into the wig. I let the professionals choose them.

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The final product! Two of my friends are getting dressed in the background.

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And from the back.

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I was having so much trouble “smiling” during the professional photos. I always smile, but I know that maiko don’t. I was trying to do a half smile, but it comes out as a bit of a smirk. Oh well.

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All six of us dressed and ready to go.

 

Everybody else went out to walk around town in their kimono.  Unfortunately, I had tickets to see a stage production in Osaka that night and I had to leave early.  It took longer than expected for all six of us to get dressed.  I definitely enjoyed this experience more than my first one.  It was a lot more professional and they weren’t trying to rush us through.

I also discovered a reason why maiko would blacken their teeth.  With all that white makeup on, it doesn’t matter how white your teeth are, they will always be yellow in comparison to your face!

I hope you enjoyed seeing my transformation!  And thank you to whomever was holding my camera and taking pictures.  I know it got passed around a lot.  Miss you guys!

Maiko Dressup: Take One!

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This is a maiko, an apprentice geisha, and it’s a very popular tourist activity in Kyoto for people to dress up in kimono and get their makeup done in the traditional all-white face. There are lots of studios that provide this service, and nowadays you’re just as likely to see these tourists as you are to see an actual geisha or maiko. This is the story of my first experience dressing up as a maiko.

My first trip to Japan was in 2006. I was a solo backpacker with no clue what I was doing. I wanted to go to Gion Matsuri, and during the course of the day, I met two young women who had just returned from a working holiday in Canada. They were planning to do a maiko dressup later in the afternoon and they invited me along.

Now, this was eight years ago. And everything happened very quickly and in a language that I didn’t understand at the time. I don’t remember much about the actual experience. Some things that I do remember are…

I remember that the kimono were old and worn. Mine had some visible wear and damage, but I just chalked it up to it being a rental.

I remember that the wig hurt.

I remember that they had a small garden set up for people to take photos with their own camera.

I remember that we couldn’t go outside.

Here are some of the photos I took that day.

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But what I most remember about the experience was the reaction I got when I got home. I hadn’t told my parents about the photos. I wanted it to be a surprise and see if they recognized me. When I got home, this is the conversation that we had.

 

Me: I met a geisha in Kyoto and she was nice enough to let me take photos of her.

I show the picture.

Mom: oh very nice.

Dad: Looks like a man.

Me: Dad that’s me!

Mom: ROFL

 

Seriously, Best. Reaction. Ever. I still laugh about it to this day. And honestly, I can’t quite bring myself to disagree with my dad. Maiko makeup just didn’t quite work on me.  This time.

My First Kimono

I got my first kimono in Kyoto during a trip in 2006. Here it is.

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I had come to Japan as a tourist, and I knew nothing about kimono except for (a) I thought they were beautiful, and (b) I wanted one as a souvenir.  I had no idea what to look for except what was aesthetically pleasing to me.  I walked into a used kimono store and was looking around for The Perfect Kimono.  At the time, I thought it would be the only kimono I would ever own, and I didn’t want to regret my decision.  I picked this one because it has all my favourite colours in it, purple, pink, and blue.  I remember the shopkeeper telling me it was a very formal kimono (he probably told me it was a furisode, but I spoke no Japanese at the time and I couldn’t remember the word.)

Then, I wanted to get an obi to go with it.  Again, not knowing anything about kimono, I asked the shopkeeper what she would recommend.  She brought out a pink hanhaba obi.  She told me it would be easier for me, as a foreigner, to tie it.  At the time, I accepted it.  Now, I cringe at the thought.  After living in Japan for several years and studying kimono for two, I know what a faux-pas that is.

I also didn’t get any undergarments.  No nagajuban, no datejime, no koshihimo.  Just a karihimo that the shopkeeper threw in.  I thought I was set and ready to wear my kimono.  But I also realized that I needed footwear.  I spotted a pair of geta at the local market (again, I knew nothing) that had straps that matched the pink in the kimono.  I got them, but I’m proud to say that I never wore them.  Not because  I learned better, but because I realized that they were too small for me.

So to summarize, my first ever kimono outfit consisted of one furisode, one karihimo, one hanhaba obi, and one pair of geta.  Sigh.

Everyone starts somewhere.  This is where I started.  I’m going to go hide in a hole now and burn any pictures I have of me wearing that embarrassing combination.