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Day 21: An Afternoon in Harajuku, Tokyo the Fashion Style Area

We had a fun time exploring Akihabara in the morning, but now it was time to visit Harajuku. I had heard so much about this area and I never dreamed of visiting it, but today was another fun day of sightseeing.

Harajuku a place for fashion and food

I had seen music videos and programs on television about Harajuku but this was the first time I was there. When Linaka and I arrived at the train station we had no idea what to expect. We did know that the area was famous for fashion, but we weren’t sure where to begin.

Harajuku adult fashion

So we looked at the local map, couldn’t read it but assumed that the main areas to visit were down the main street from the metro station. We then followed most of the crowds to see where they led us to. Our initial experience was seeing the major brands and department stores. I was searching for the backstreets that sold clothing and I’m sure Linaka was looking for the same. Our first thought was to go into a large department store. Linaka’s thoughts were, “since we are here, might as well see what the stores look like”.

Harajuku Teen Fashion

It was interesting to see, but after we explored the department store, we found our way to Takeshita Dori. This is what we were originally looking for, the main backstreets with small stores selling all sorts of fashion. Apparently, this is where many of Japan’s fashion trends come from. In addition to the clothing shops there were many food places selling unique foods. Something else we learned was that Takeshita Dori’s shops are targeted to a teen audience while the main streets in Harajuku are targeted to a more adult audience.

Harajuku crepes

Conclusion

Visiting Harajuku was a quick and final visit on our last day in Japan. Unfortunately, we missed the big dress up day. Seems that each Sunday teenagers meet up and dress up in unique outfits. The first week we were in Tokyo we missed this and this time around, we also missed it. But it was still fun to visit Harajuku and see what it was all about. Besides fashion and food there are other things to see, such as temples. For anyone that likes fashion then Harajuku is a must stop place on any Tokyo trip. Tomorrow we leave Japan and return to merry old England. It has been a great trip, a great adventure and a destination we will probably return to again in the future.

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Japan

Day 21: A morning in Akihabara, Tokyo’s Electric Town

This morning we returned to Akihabara and to see what we missed out the first time around. When we first arrived in Tokyo about 3 weeks earlier we decided to visit Akihabara. At that time we had a tour guide who was walking us around certain parts of the city. The weather rainy so we spent most of our time in one department store with many floors. I believe the store is called Bic Camera. It was a great experience, but nothing like today.

Read my first article: “An Afternoon in Akihabara Tokyo“.

You can read Linaka’s article here: “Day 21: Last Day in Tokyo – Akihabara and Harajuku“.

Returning to Akihabara (Electric Town)

Akihabara

The first time Linaka and I went to Akihabara, it was cold and raining. We went to the first building visible from the subway station and we spent the rest of our time in that store. The great thing about it was that it was so big that you could easily think that all of the electronic stores would fit there. However, this time around we visited on a bright and sunny day, the weather was warm and we explored the streets of Akihabara.

The signs in Akihabara are welcoming. As soon as you start exploring the streets you see a rainbow of signs advertising anime, manga, toy robots, maids and much more. Walking from store to store, you see model toys, robots, all types of electronic parts as well as computers. There are many places to buy anime (dvd and comics) as well as many cafes including several competing maid cafes.

The Maid Cafes

Since we had never been to one, we decided to visit one of the local maid cafes. You could see maids on the street advertising and trying to lure in customers. Lucky for us, we wanted to see what it was all about. A maid led us into the nearest cafe. The actual place we went to seemed a little small, but there were several tables and stools. The smaller tables had a fee to sit at. There was also a stage for taking pictures with the maids and I think to karaoke at night. We weren’t allowed to take pictures, but if we wanted a picture we could buy a photo with a maid. All the servants inside were dressed as maids and if you wanted to order something, you needed to make cat sounds to request a maid.

Maidreamin in Akihabara

It was funny, but the point of the maid cafe was to make things look cute and fun. Oh and if you wanted to order something, you could not order for just one person, every person in your party was required to order something. All in all, it could get expensive if you don’t know what you are getting into. We did have fun, ordered some french fries and a milk shake. The milk shake looked cute. Once we had our fill of the maid cafe we went on exploring more of Akihabara. Not surprising, there were other maid cafes competing for customers in the back streets.

A maid in Akihabara

Toys, anime and robots

Exploring Akihabara can be a lot of fun. Every other store carries toys, models, electronic parts, and entertainment such as Playstation and Xbox games. The first building we saw when we came out of the train station was a big red building with the word Sega on it. But what was more interesting was going to a single shop that sold models or toys and seeing several floors, each representing different shops specializing in different types of models. For example one floor may specialize in selling Gundam toys, while another floor sold Dragonball Z or other anime characters. Exploring these buildings you never know what you are going to find out there.

Outside Akihabara Station

Initially, we went to Akihabara to find robots. Linaka and I were interested in either buying a robot or buying parts to build a robot. Our first guide did not know what we were looking for, but she did point us in the right direction. The first time around we did not find real robots, just toy models. But this time around, we found “Robot Center”, your one stop place for finding robots and robot parts. It was a small store, but it was a fascinating place to visit. Unfortunately for us, it was our last day exploring Tokyo and we had already purchased most of what we wanted. Visiting the robot store was one of our highlights we enjoyed about Japan.

Robot Center

Conclusion

Walking around Akihabara can be an all day event. In my opinion, exploring properly could take a few days. Unless you know in advance what you want to get out of Akihabara in advance. The best way to explore the area is to research online and find out what stores you can find there. If you like anime, there are plenty of stores around for it. If you are looking for collector dolls or models, again there are plenty of stores that specialize is just those items. A bit of research can help save you a lot of time. But at the same time getting lost in Akihabara can be fun.

So our second time around Akihabara was much more fun. The weather was nicer and we explored various streets and stores. We never expected to see so much, so many colors and so much entertainment in one area. If we visit Japan again in the future, Akihabara will definitely be one of the places we will most like return to. Once we were done exploring in the morning, we spent the afternoon in Harajuku (the next article).

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Japan

Day 20: Returning to Shinjuku, Tokyo

Kanazawa was a nice city to visit and if we had more time it would have been nice to stay there a little longer. It would have been great to explore the local area and tourist sites some more. Although it was a short visit, it was a great place. Today we made our way back to Kanazawa station to take a train back to Tokyo, Shinjuku district.

Read Linaka’s article here: “Day 20, On to Tokyo and Ghibli Museum“.

The journey to Shinjuku

Traveling by train was nice, especially when on the Shinkansen. The journey from Kanazawa to Shinjuku, Tokyo took over 4 hours. That was quite amazing considering the Shinkansen is a very fast train. The fact that it also took so long to get back to Tokyo also indicated how far away we were.

A view of Shinjuku

As we made our way back, we passed by many cities and towns. Off in the distance you could still see mountains. Perhaps the best part of this journey was seeing Mount Fuji once more. Speeding on the train made it difficult to take pictures out the window, but many of the passengers had to take those final epic photos of Mount Fuji. It looked so close, yet so far away. Lucky for me, I was able to snap a few pictures before Mount Fuji was finally out of view.

We left early in the morning and arrived in Shinjuku in the afternoon. It was not long before we recognized the buildings and area that we had seen just a couple of weeks before. But the difference now was that we were more educated and familiar with many of the stores which we had seen along our journey. Seeing Shinjuku again was exciting and at the same time a little sad. We knew that our journey in Japan would be coming to an end soon. Still, we made our way out of the station and found our hotel. After settling in, it was time to make one more journey to visit the Ghibli museum.

A trip to the Ghibli Museum

Studio Ghibli museum

It is hard to describe how amazing the Ghibli museum was. Both Linaka and I are big anime fans. We have seen many of the movies from Ghibli studios and visiting the museum was another highlight of our journey. Unfortunately, photography was restricted here, so we could only take pictures outside of the museum. There were many amazing exhibits inside. We saw live animations, movable models and plenty of artwork on display.

Studio Ghibli giant robot

We got an opportunity to watch a short film inside the museum. It was about 20 minutes long, but it was a nice film. Although it was completely in Japanese without subtitles, I got the main meaning behind the film. Most of the museum showcased the many characters developed by Ghibli. Additionally there was a shop and book store inside which was way over crowded. Earlier on our journey we visited a manga museum which was not very crowded, but compared to the Ghibli museum, you could see the contrast in popularity. Ghibli was extremely pack with many visitors. At the end of the day we left the museum and had a leisurely walk to the local train station to take us back to Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Studio Ghibli water well

Conclusion

We had a great day. It was a long morning with a journey that took over 4 hours from Kanazawa to Shinjuku, Tokyo and a great afternoon visiting the Ghibli museum. For any fan of Ghibli, then the museum is a must visit. Afterwards, we returned to our hotel in Shinjuku and relaxed for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow we spend our last day exploring a few more sites which we missed on our first visit to Tokyo.

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Japan

Day 19: Kanazawa a Fun and Rainy Day

Today started off cold and rainy, but it turned out to be a nice day. Although we froze through most of the day, we had a lot of fun going to various places. The best way to explain this day is with the following words: ninja temple, pottery, Kanazawa castle, local markets, geisha district and a tea house. Sounds like a lot to do in a day, but it was fun and enjoyable.

A rainy day in Kanazawa

Kanazawa’s Ninja Temple

This morning we had a reservation at Myoryuji Temple also known as the Ninja Temple. It was a short walk from our hotel and being called a ninja temple it was almost hard to find. We had to read our map and find some backstreets that led to the temple. Along the way there were various other temples and shrines to distract us.

Myoryuji ninja temple

However, we found the temple and made our reservation. We took some pictures of the outside. Unfortunately, there was no photography allowed inside the temple because it was forbidden by the ninjas. The building was no more than 3 stories tall and based on a law created by the shogun many years ago, no building could have more than 3 stories. In order to get around this rule, hidden passes and door steps were created. The temple has 23 rooms and 29 stairs. Certain parts were restricted because it was dangerous to wander through the building, not because of the hidden traps but because it was just an old building.

A side street in Kanazawa

The tour through the temple was a great experience. The guide giving us the tour was not able to translate anything into English, but we were given English guide books. The temple was mainly used as a way to guard Kanazawa castle. Apparently there was a water well which you could escape through and would take you straight to the castle. However, no one has tested this theory out so it may or may not be true.

The Ninja temple was fun, but in the end we found out that it had nothing to do with ninjas. It was called the ninja temple for all it’s hidden doors and passages. It was constructed as a means to defend the building and Kanazawa castle. Even if it wasn’t a real ninja temple it was still a great place to visit. The real ninja was Linaka because she managed to snap a pictures inside the temple without being seen.

Finding a local Pottery maker

Our plans changed slightly as the day progressed. Linaka wanted to find a local pottery maker just to see how they do their work. We went on a quest to find this building and after travelling through several backstreets we finally found it. The pottery service and classes were closed because it was Sunday, but the main area was still open for the sale of custom pottery. The CEO of the company was nice enough to give us a tour of his facilities and tell us more about his business. It was interesting to see and fun to explore.

Pottery making in Kanazawa

Kanazawa castle and local markets

Once we finished at the pottery place, we needed to head to Kanazawa castle. We found a local taxi in an isolated area. We weren’t sure if he was on a lunch break, but after a small struggle communicating we were able to ask him to take us to Kanazawa castle.

Kanazawa Castle

The day went from rainy to sunny to rainy to sunny. It remained cold and windy. We explored the local markets, even a small museum, but mainly the market places and local shopping areas. There were many trees blossoming everywhere. The whole area was covered in pink foliage.

Cherry blossoms in Kanazawa

As we made our way to Kanazawa castle we took pictures from every angle we could see. It was a beautiful site. The castle itself was huge with a large main entrance. Like previous castles we had visited there was also a moat around the castle.

A market in Kanazawa

The local markets allowed us to taste some of the local candy and food. Linaka enjoyed her time shopping at each of the local stores. I spent most of my time taking pictures of the many pink and white blossoming trees as well as the castle and markets.

The Geisha district and the tea house

The day was soon coming to an end and we wanted to make our final stop in the Geisha district. Linaka wanted to visit a geisha tea house. Since it was within walking distance, we walked from Kanazawa castle to the Geisha district. It wasn’t hard to find, but it was a cold journey to make on foot.

Exploring the Geisha District

At the Geisha district you could see many old houses including Shima (the Geisha tea house) that Linaka wanted to see. We were in luck, they were still open to the public. Because it was Sunday, many places were closing early. Again our photography was restricted in the tea house, but we were allowed to take pictures with small cameras or phones. It was a bit dark for some pictures but we snapped a few here and there.

Conclusion

We had a great day. It started out cold and rainy, but we had fun exploring and visiting various places. Linaka was a little stubborn and did not bring her jacket, but I was kind enough to lend her mine. We ended our day by taking a local bus back to our hotel. Actually, the bus took us to the general area where we walked towards our hotel but got detoured by a pancake place. So it was a nice pancake dinner before we finally called it a day. Tomorrow we make our journey back to Tokyo for our final days in Japan.

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Japan

Day 18: Travelling to Kanazawa, Japan

Today was an interesting day. We left Takayama on a cold and cloudy day. It had started to snow as we left our ryokan and headed to the train station. Once again, we left a city to move on to the next one. However, the train ride to Kanazawa was an interesting one and a fun journey.

Takayama on a cold day

You can read Linaka’s account of the day here: “Day 18, Through the mountains towards Kanazawa“.

Train hopping to Kanazawa

When we were still in Kyoto, Linaka managed to reserve our tickets for the rest of the trip via train. We had reserved tickets to depart from Takayama in the afternoon, but Linaka felt that instead of sitting at the train station in Takayama we should hop on the next available train and get some seats in the non-reserved area. Each train has at least one car which has unreserved seats for travellers. Most cars you have to reserve your seat to get on.

Takayama Kanazawa train

Our main objective for this long trip to Kanazawa was to get on the next available train, get to the front and hope to get some seats together to our next destination. The competition was high with many tourist from different countries trying to also get on the same car. Luckily we managed to get to the front and get onboard quickly. One advantage we had was figuring out the kanji for non-reserved seats. That helped us find the cars quickly and get on. Anyway, the trip to Kanazawa was a good one. Again we travelled through meandering tracks past mountains and rivers until we finally made it to our destination.

non-reserved

First day in Kanazawa

Learning to understand how the train and bus system works is a great advantage. Once we got to Kanazawa train station, Linaka spent an hour talking to an information help person at the information centre. He spoke English, but not very well and he was still learning new words. He was helpful enough to provide English maps and suggestions on where to go and what to do in Kanazawa.

Takuma a street artist in Kanazawa

Once we got to the hotel and dropped our things, we decided to explore the area close to the hotel. I was hopping to do a little sight seeing, but we actually spent most of the time looking at shops and shopping. As we walked along the shopping areas we came upon a street artist named Takuma who was kind enough to do a piece of art for me and Linaka. We did not really have to pay, but he was accepting donations based on what we felt the work was worth. It was a nice piece of work which I’m sure Linaka will post later on her blog.

A night in Kanazawa Japan

We continued to explore and shop before we headed back to the hotel. Linaka was a bit tired, but I decide to do a little more exploring at night and I went out to take some pictures. It was a bit strange to walk around the area. Many people looked like they belonged in an anime. There were people dressed in business suits with large wild hair and many ladies walking around with tiny skirts. Considering that it was freezing outside, I kept wondering how they manage to stay warm. After a little while outside, I returned to the hotel to watch some anime for an hour before going to sleep.

Conclusion

The trip from Takayama to Kanazawa was fun. Train hopping and trying to get on non-reserved cars was enjoyable. We were so glad we didn’t have to feel crowded on these trips like we did when we were initially heading to Takayama. The first day in Kanazawa was also fun. I would have preferred a little more sight seeing and a lot less shopping, but Linaka likes to shop and most shops have items so unique it is unlikely we would find them anywhere else. Tomorrow we have a full day of fun planned out. In the morning we head to the ninja temple and in the afternoon it’s a day in the geisha and samurai districts.

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Japan

Day 16-17: A Couple of Days in Takayama

Kyoto was a beautiful city and after several days we had to say good-bye and make our way to Takayama, up in the Japanese alps. The trip from Kyoto to Takayama took almost 4 hours by train. So most of the morning was spent travelling. It was a very scenic and picturesque trip. We travelled from flat landscapes, past ancient castles, modern cities and up into the mountain areas. There were beautiful rivers that cut through the mountains. You could see large stones in the river being weathered down by the beautiful clear turquoise waters. The train seemed to follow the meandering river as if trying to keep up with some of the wild rapids or at times coasting with the tranquil flow of the river.

Takayama an unexpected city

Takayama station

When we finally arrived in Takayama I was not sure what to expect. Takayama is a rural area to visit with many traditional buildings which are especially well preserved in the old town. However, when we arrived at the train station, I saw a modern city with many tall buildings and cars everywhere. As we (Linaka and I) travelled through the city to our Japanese style accommodation we noticed that parts of the city were modern while other parts were much older.

According to our guide book there are several good places to visit in the area. What is magnificent about Takayama is that it’s surrounded on all sides by large mountains. For people that like the alps, this is a nice place to visit.

Takayama

We spent the day exploring the local area, the shops and restaurants as well as the back streets of Takayama. What surprised me the most was how westernised many parts of Takayama is. There seems to be a heavy influence of French culture. Additionally, the tourist areas looked very western (European) and many of the tourist were speaking French. I almost forgot I was in Japan. Takayama has a high density of tourist from all over. As you walk through the tourist streets you can hear people speaking in French, German, Italian and English (British and American).

Takayama night view

Even though there are a large number of tourist, most shop owners speak either Japanese or a little English. This means most of the tourist had to communicate in either Japanese or English. But it was still a good experience visiting the shopping/tourist districts.

Takayama tourist

Searching for Hon-maru castle ruins

Our second day in Takayama was colder and rainy. The temperatures were expected to fall over night. Linaka was not feeling very well so we spent a little time shopping in the tourist areas in the morning and afterwards I trekked on my own up a hill in search of some ancient castle ruins.

Based on the local maps, there were some castle ruins for a castle called Hon-maru. I figured I would climb the local hill and find the ruins. I dressed up warmly, took an umbrella and spent an hour searching for these ruins through the woods on the hill. By the time I reach the location, I was a little disappointed by what I found.

Hon-maru castle ruins

In England, when you see castle ruins, you normally see bits of high walls left over, parts of castles still standing and rubble everywhere. The castle on the hill was almost non-existent. If you were just trekking through the woods on the hill and had no idea there was suppose to be castle ruins there, then you could easily walk past them. All that was left were a few stones representing the base of part of the castle. There were some signs and a few makers on the ground which indicated where certain rooms were suppose to be. But the land was basically empty of a castle. Sadly, I had to make my way back down the hill without much to see. The only thing you could see were the travelled paths made by locals and tourist.

Conclusion

Takayama is a nice place to visit. There are tourist areas to visit and many restaurants that specialise in beef. We even got to eat at a local placed called “Center 4 Hamburgers”. It specialises in delicious Japanese burgers made from local beef. There are also many antique stores where you can find some surprising old items.

Takayama canal

If you have enough time and the weather permits it, then there are several places to visit in the area including Shirakawa-go (famous for it’s ancient farms). Unfortunately, we were not able to make this day trip. The weather got colder over night and the next day we awoke to a cold, cloudy and snowy day. Today we make our way out of Takayama and head to Kanazawa with a brief stop in Toyama. It’s going to be another long morning travelling through the mountains, but it will probably be a nice trip to our next destination.

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Japan

Day 15: A Day in Nara and 10,000 Gates

The plan today was to explore around Nara, but after yesterday morning’s photo shoot, Linaka wanted to return to Yumeyakata and purchase the digital copies of our pictures. Lucky for us, they did not delete them from their systems and we were able to purchase a photo CD with the four images that we had chosen. Once we had our digital copies, we headed off to Nara to explore the large wooden buildings.

Read Linaka’s account of the day here: “Day 15 Nara and Fushimi Inari Jinja in Kyoto“.

Nara, deer and many temples

deer at Todaiji in Nara

It was getting late in the day when we took a train to Nara. Linaka was not feeling well, so we did our best to see as much as we could in a short time frame. We arrived at Nara train station and I went to the information center to ask for a local map. The lady was kind enough to provide an English map and a suggested route to each of the local temples. Walking distance from the train station to the first temple was estimated at 15 minutes followed by 10 minutes to Todaiji and then another 10 minutes to the last temple. The lady had suggested 3 main stops although there appeared to be other smaller shrines to visit in Nara.

Todaiji gate in Nara

Since Linaka wasn’t feeling well and she did not want to spend too much time walking around Nara, we decided to take one of the local buses from Nara train station straight to Todaiji temple. Luckily for us, it was a good choice. The first temple on the map was covered up in mesh and scaffolding. Although it looked like a very large structure, it appeared to be undergoing some restoration. I don’t think we would have gotten a good view or some good pictures.

When we got to Todaiji temple, the local Nara bus dropped us off at the park. The deer we saw at Miyajima Island appeared to have followed us because there were hundreds of dear here and the tourist were feeding them like people feed pigeons in the park. These deer were not wild at all. Local venders were selling deer food to tourist.

Many tourist would buy deer food and then they would try to feed the deer. Once the food was out, the deer flocked to the tourist with food in droves. Some deer were trying to bite off the tourist shirts.

To get to Todaiji temple you had to make your way through the hordes of tourist and the herds of deer in the way. If you weren’t careful one of the dear would either follow you and try and eat from you.

The actual temple is spectacular. Todaiji is a large building that houses the world’s largest bronze statue. There is also a large wooden gate with wooden guardians a few meters away from the temple. Looking at the wooden gate, you could see how aged and worn down the gate is. I can see why the locals in Nara are going through restorations processes for many of the shrines and temples. Given time, the wooden structure will decay and fall apart.

Hundreds of stone lanterns

Kasuga lanterns in Nara

I had to travel to the third shrine (Kasuga Taisha) on my own. Linaka needed to find a bench to rest while I took a look at the next sight. In order to get to the next shrine you had to travel down a dirt path travelling up hill followed by many steps. The path was decorated by hundreds of stone lanterns on either side. It was quite an amazing path to travel.

Along the way there were some small shops and a botanical garden you could detour to. As you climb up the stone steps you’ll see a cleansing fountain with a deer statue and then some final steps to take you up to the temple itself. There was a fork in the path and it seems to continue beyond the shrine which I did not explore further.

The temple itself was colourful. There were priests and what appeared to be maidens in the temple. It seemed like it was an active place of worship. Within the temple itself was a corridor with hundreds of hanging lanterns. For anyone that likes lanterns or ancient temples, this is a beautiful place to visit. Linaka was still waiting for me at the park where the deer were so I made my way back to her. Afterwards we decided to head back to Kyoto.

kasuga hanging lanterns in Nara

10,000 Gates before Kyoto

Nara was beautiful, but of all the places to visit in and around Kyoto we had to go visit the 10,000 torii gates in Fushimi Inari-taisha. It is one of those classic places that is a must see. I have seen these gates in movies and anime, but I never imaged that I would ever see them in person.

When we arrived at Fushimi Irani train station, Irani-taisha was just across the street. There was a large torii gate to welcome you to the temple area, followed by several other buildings and shrines. Additionally, there were many statues of foxes. There seems to be a popular anime, which was also displayed at the entrance, that is constantly advertised on TV about the foxes and the many gates.

Fushimi Inari-taisha 10,000 torii

There are 10,000 torii gates which go up the mountain and stretch 4 kilometres. If we had a day, then perhaps we or I would have walked through all the gates. But it was late in the day and it was getting dark, so we only did about 1,000 gates before we headed back to the train station.

Fushimi 10000 gates

The torii gates are beautiful. They are one of those places that you have to visit, so if you ever go to Japan, then this is one of those destinations that is a must.

Fushimi More Gates

Conclusion

We returned to Kyoto late in the evening and after several hours being out and visiting temples and torii gates we decided to go shopping. We ened our day by going to Yashobi and buying some model sets and a few other things. Afterward we found a place for diner before heading back to our room and calling it a night. Tomorrow, we spend half our day travelling by train from Kyoto to Takayama where our next adventure awaits us.

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Japan

Day 14: A Day Exploring Gion and Dressing up

Jose in yukata

It was a beautiful day and we spent it exploring Kyoto again. Today’s main events were to attend a dress up session in the morning with a photo shoot and in the afternoon attend a geisha dance in Gion. The dance is a traditional play with music and some traditional sounds/singing. Today’s schedule did not sound like a lot but it was quite a long and busy day.

You can read Linaka’s account of the day here: “Day 14 Traditional Japanese Arts, Geisha, Maiko and the Miyako Odori“.

Our morning dressing up with photo shoot

So we went to a place called Yumeyakata. It is a place that does kimono rentals and photo shoots. I was expecting to be there no more than an hour, but we actually spent more than 2 hours at the place. The time consuming part was dressing up and trying to figure out what the lady was saying in Japanese.

Before going in, we met a newly wed man from Scotland who was there with his wife. He had been waiting in the lobby for a while and mentioned how tight the outfits were. Basically, for the men, dressing up is fairly quick, but for the women it’s totally different.

Linaka dressed as a Maiko

Linaka was there to dress like a maiko which involves various layers of dressing, putting on a traditional wig and lots of make up. I believe the make up part was what took the longest to do. Once she was fully dressed and made up, a lady came to collect me from the lobby and lead me up a flight of stairs to the photo studio.

Linaka had mentioned that she wanted to dress up and walk around Kyoto in either a kimono or yukata, but after dressing up and trying to walk around, I realise that it would have taken us a long time to get around. Leg movement was restricted which meant you could only shuffle from one point to another. It’s no wonder that people take small steps when they move around in these outfits. It’s very difficult to move.

Anyway, we had a fun time taking the photos. The shoot only took a few minutes, probably 10 at the most. While I only took 1 photo, Linaka took several. I also snapped a few pictures with my phone. Afterwards we shuffled down the stairs to the ground floor where Linaka and I took more personal photos together. And finally, I got a chance to take the outfit off and dress normally again.

An afternoon in Gion, Geisha district of Kyoto

A street in Gion Kyoto

It was a fun morning, but now we were heading back to Gion, the Geisha district of Kyoto. Some how we found ourselves walking down some back streets and found ancient Kyoto. Linaka mentioned that this was the area where we could see geisha walking around at night. During the day; however, it was quite empty, but nice to see these old buildings.

After searching for a place to eat we made it to the main tourist street. It was a beautiful place to see, but highly congested with tourist and cars. Every few minutes you could see a taxi drive by. It was amazing to see traditional ancient Kyoto mixed in with the modern crowds of tourism.

A tea ceremony with geisha in Kyoto

After we found a place for a quick snack we headed to the geisha dance. It started off with a short tour of the tourist sections, souvenir shops and a small museum show casing various things. Before the main event, we sat in a tea ceremony where we saw a maiko and geisha give a short performance. They were dressed beautifully.

A Geisha in Kyoto

Once the tea ceremony was completed, we traveled to out reserved seats. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take any pictures during the performance. The actual dance was spectacular and it is something you have to experience. The parts of men and women were played by women, the instruments and singing was also done by women. The whole thing started around 3 p.m. and ended by 6 p.m. It was quite a site to see.

Conclusion

We ended the day by exploring around Gion. Gion is considered the Geisha district, so if you want to see lots of women dressed up in traditional kimonos, this is the place to visit. We explored the temples, the streets and the rest of the tourist section. We found a local artist and more temples and shrines in the area. Additionally, there is a large pagoda in Gion, which is pretty easy to spot. Tomorrow, we have plans to go out to Nara and if we have time, we will go do other stuff.