Travel Diary: Japan 2015 part 3
Remember what I said last post about getting dressed in kimonos? This was the day! I got up much earlier than the previous day to do my makeup and make sure that we had plenty of time to get to the rental store.
We hopped onto the bus and got off at the Gion stop. We picked up a quick breakfast from a nearby bakery and walked a few minutes, guided by our friend google maps, to the store. Once we were there we just went up to the reception and they told me to see what I liked and asked my boyfriend to wait as they prepared the mens kimonos.
Initially I was really overwhelmed by all the choices. Before coming, in my mind I had planned to look like a cool classical beauty, but when confronted with all the choices I began to doubt myself and wondered what I would actually suit. I asked an older lady to help me and she did a wonderful job explaining to me all the different types of kimono prints, from the more classical to retro, pop, showa and more. We held up various prints and tried to match them to my face and eventually we picked a ‘pop’ styled one that I would have never chosen on my own, but really suited me I think.
Sorry I don’t have any photos of the getting dressed process! I think I was just too distracted to remember to take any photos. There were a few other people getting dressed by the staff so it took a little bit of time to get ready. I also took forever choosing a haori. Eventually, we managed to go outside and I lost it, because just as the staff were taking a photo for us it started snowing. It was so unbelievably beautiful and I felt like I was in a Japanese period drama with the traditional architecture, snow and kimono.
After my initial excitement we wandered along into a temple area and then back to the main Gion area. I was pretty starving as I had only had a little bit of bread for breakfast so we decided to have some food at tsujiri, which is a chain famous for matcha foods.
The green tea udon was just what I needed to warm myself up and the parfait was heavenly. Just thinking about it makes me drool. My bf got a cake and tea set which had so many instructions that we were both utterly dumbfounded as to how to actually make the tea. Luckily one of the waitresses kindly helped us out. The tea oddly enough tasted a little like seaweed and was rather savoury, but not in a bad way. Everything was so vividly coloured and was so fresh tasting!
With full stomachs we decided to go to ginkakuji, the silver temple that isn’t actually silver. I actually wanted to go to kinkakuji, but my boyfriend has been before and after some consultation we figured that it would be too far away and crowded. Ginakuji was very relaxing and it started snowing again!
There was a lot of wandering a meandering this day. As I have said so many times before, Kyoto really is a beautiful place making it the perfect place to just stroll aimlessly. From kinkakuji we went down philosophers walk. I found a basket of cats and my bf got excited when he saw high school boys leaving school to go home because it looked exactly like it does in dramas and animes ahaha. The path ends at nanzenji which is pretty impressive with its large imposing wooden gates.
At this point I was freezing and had been freezing for a while now. So we decided to make our way back to the main Gion area and return to the kimono rental store. It started snowing like crazy on our way back! I was super excited but also even more freezing than before!!
People wearing kimonos sure had it tough. Even with all the layers it was still much warmer with my coat and jumpers.
For dinner we went around Kyoto station. (My boyfriend read somewhere that it is a thing for couples in kyoto to hang around the station area?) Apparently this is some sort of famous Kyoto dish. All the things go into a steamer raw and then after a while you open it up and everything is cooked. It was pretty magical. Walking around Kyoto station is also really stunning. Unlike Tokyo, the streets are wide and seem to just exude this sense of class. I suppose that the brand shops dotting the streets and soft lamps sure help.
Lastly, but not least sweet pancakes before bed! Some Japanese pancakes are so large, soft and fluffy, just like cake!
I’m so glad I finally managed to dress up in kimonos in Japan. I own a yukata and have gone to matsuris in my yukata before but the traditional kimono is just something else. Next time I would love to try furisode or a modern/retro hakama style outfit.
For a kimono rental we went with Okamoto Kimono: http://www.okamoto-kimono.com/english/
They seem to be one of the most popular and biggest companies for kimono rentals. They also have a full English site, though the English isn’t perfect you can understand everything just fine. There are numerous locations, though the Gion Kodaiji shop and the Bettei are right next to each other. We chose the Kodaiji shop because we didn’t feel like going around kiyomizudera because we’ve both already been there on past trips.
The rental plans are very straight forward and comprehensive, though things like hairstyling cost extra. I chose the 5000yen full scale attire plan and had by hair done while my bf went with the men’s kimono plan. He said that the choice of kimono for men was also pretty good although obviously not as varied as the women’s.
In my opinion, if you want to have the full choice ok kimonos, this is a good plan to pick. It’s also better to go for an early session so that no one else picks the kimonos that you want before you and so that you have more time to wander around all dressed up and take heaps of photos.
To conclude, another photo of me, because I took so many ahahaha.