This post contains the journal of my Japan trip on day 10, 4 April 2017: Fushimi Inari, Kiyomizu Dera and Gion wearing kimono.
You can read about the previous day of my trip (Philosopher’s Walk, Kyoto) here.
I didn’t quite hear the alarm ringing. It was already 5:51, meaning that we’re about 40 minutes late. Long story short we had yogurts as breakfast and arrived at Fushimi Inari Taisha on about 8:45. It was already crowded.
Since our kimono appointment is for another one and a half hour, we decided to not waste our time and proceeded to the famous tori gates and took a lot of pictures until there was this annoying couple from Indonesia that wants to do the pre-wed photoshoot and took our precious spot.
It was already 10 o’clock and we headed to the kimono rental place, Yumeyakata. We’re actually planning to come back to Fushimi Inari Taisha on the next day wearing our kimonos..but let’s see about that, huh?
The place was already extremely crowded the moment we arrived there. It was a chaos. First we had to choose our fabric tile. I felt dizzy and ended up choosing a horrible one. Then I chose an obi and its accessory. We proceeded to pay for the hairdo also and it all amounted for JPY 5000 (US $45).
Our actual plan was to wear the kimono until the next day and pay the fine for JPY 1000 (US $9). But putting up kimono turned out to be a very complicated process. The lady would put about 5 pieces of undergarment before putting on the actual kimono robe. The obi was very long and the wrapping process was confusing. I immediately thought of having to sleep wearing the kimono for the next day…..
Anyway, my mood was already ruined because of the crowd and because everything was so time-consuming. We put our bags in the deposit counter and we’re only left with ugly complementary bags because it’s already noon. I chose an ugly, particularly larger one because I had to store my wallet, passport, bottled water, and other small things. Then, I chose the wrong hairdo. And the hair accessory was expensive AF. Everything ranges from JPY 500 (US $5) to 3000 (US $36) while you can get them in a China Town for around US $2 (That was a very good business model. It’ll last a very long time since tourist won’t stop wanting to wear kimonos, and it has a crazy margin).
We finally got out at 13:30 and went to Kiyomizu Dera, the most famous temple in Kyoto. We had to climb this hill first. They’re full of souvenir shops and pretty small houses.
It was actually tiring; having to wear My bad luck struck again as we saw that the famous part of the temple was in construction. Why.. Just why… We ended up taking some pictures on the site. Thankfully, there were fair amount of blooming sakura trees!
We went up and down to see this famous drinking fountain, Otowa Waterfall. As said by japan-guide.com:
Its waters are divided into three separate streams, and visitors use cups attached to long poles to drink from them. Each stream’s water is said to have a different benefit, namely to cause longevity, success at school and a fortunate love life. However, drinking from all three streams is considered greedy.
On the way down to the road leading to Gion, my friend took this picture of my neck. It was said that because men cannot see the women’s bodily figure and skin colour when they’re wearing kimonos, men can only look for women’s back of the neck for their true skin colours. I think it’s kinda creepy…
I bought some souvenirs for my friends and we proceeded to Gion. On the way, we took some pictures in this alley.
And found a sweets shop that sold really good green tea and cherry blossom cookies. Unfortunately I didn’t took any picture of it 😦
We were strolling in the Gion area when we saw a tremendous amount of crowd walking from and to this cobblestoned street area. Turned out that it was the famous Hanamikoji Street, a street full of tea houses and geishas. We spotted one maiko (a geisha apprentice) being chased while I was taking pictures of my friend, and I immediately abandoned her to chase the maiko. Because my camera was being quite stupid, I didn’t catch a single picture of her. We spotted 2 more of them and we couldn’t manage to take their pictures. All of the maiko wore super high wooden heels and they all walked really fast.
Later we saw a crowd in front of an exclusive teahouse. We’re guessing that they were waiting for a geisha to come out. We were right, except that it was a maiko. And I couldn’t get a picture of her either. Instead I’ll just put the picture of me below.
We continued to stroll around the street and there was a group of ladies in their 40s with a heavy Southern American accent wanted to take pictures with us. I was already on guard with my things because I thought they were muggers! It turned out that they thought both of us were geisha….. Funny folks, they were. Later we realised that there were only very few people still wearing kimonos at that time (about 18:45). Most of them have returned their kimonos to the rental place. We didn’t want to, remember?
We gave up on the geisha thing and proceeded to this JPY 100 sushi restaurant called Musashi Sushi I found at Google. Ever since we got here, we’ve been dreading for cheap sushi! It was a 2 km walk from where we are, so it was still a long way to go.
We made a stop at a soft cream store beforehand and bought a nice cone of mixed green tea-vanilla ice cream. It was really good! I don’t often like green tea ice creams because most of them taste artificial, but this one’s really authentic. I forgot its name though…
On our further way, we passed through this really aesthetically pleasing alley called Ponto Cho, and again, we took pictures.
After walking for a while in a much quieter street, we suddenly saw a real geiko (the geisha, no longer an apprentice), with her lower wooden heels and simple kimono, holding a koto (a Japanese string instrument) walking to a tea house. Nobody around was bothered to take a picture of her! That’s crazy. I ran with my heavy kimono and chased her. She said something to me with a cute smile while I was taking her pictures but I didn’t understand what she was talking about. Nevertheless, I finally got a (super low quality) picture of a geiko.
Caucasians around then started asking me, “What was that about? Who is she?” and I was bewildered. “Well, she’s a geisha.” I replied. One of them then said, “What’s a geisha?”, “It was just a cultural thing, they’re supposed to be rarely seen outside.” They hesitantly nodded. There’s no way that you’re going to Japan, especially Kyoto, without knowing about geisha at all. It’s was like going to USA without knowing about the Native Americans! That was a pure cultural ignorance!
Just about 300 meters from the restaurant, we saw a small river with a few of full-bloomed sakura trees. My God! Why didn’t we find this place during day?! Why must it be at night?! My camera battery had died and we took super non-HD pictures of ourselves.
We finally arrived in Musashi Sushi at about 21:00. People were staring because we still wore kimonos. We were starving; we haven’t eaten anything all day except for the yogurt, soft cream, and the cookie testers. The restaurant didn’t happen to serve JPY 100 (US $0.9) sushi. It was JPY 150 (US $1.45) a plate, and some of them were about JPY 300 (US $2.7) each. The restaurant was filled with overseas tourists, and most of them were either from Europe or America.
We finally got our seat after waited for 15 minutes, immediately took plates by plates from the conveyor belt and devoured them right away. They were all really, really good. The salmons were all good, the tunas were all good, the eggs and the prawns were all good. Sometimes I asked the chef to make a new one without the wasabi. Overall, it was really pleasant. Each of our plates were the highest ones among the others’ around us. I forgot to count how many plates stacked, but I was sure I had more than ten.
We went back to Osaka with our fully-satisfied stomaches and eye-catching kimonos. We arrived in our apartment at about 11:30. After trying hard, I decided that I couldn’t sleep with the kimono as I couldn’t breathe normally. We were already very exhausted and I wanted to take a shower. Taking the kimono off was quite an effort. We put the whole sets in large plastic bags we got from Sanrio World and proceeded to take a bath and sleep.
Next Day: Kyoto, The 3rd Day
Disclaimer: All of the pictures above were taken by my friend and me using Nikon D5500 and iPhone 5s. I reduced the quality of the pictures and videos to save my WordPress storage.