Saturday, July 11, 2015

Kyoto in Style


(left to right) Darby, Amanda and I suited up to stroll around Kyoto!
Not every town is like Kyoto in the fact that on any given day, it is normal to walk around in yukata. Of course, with all magic comes a price. It was a little expensive, but I bought mine with the obi, and geta and had my hair done for about 116,000 yen (which comes up to just at 116 US dollars). What is a geta and obi? Geta are the tradition flat wooden shoes that have cloth to throng your big toe and second toe. So basically older looking flipflops that may hurt after a while. On the other hand, an Obi is is the sash that ties around the waist to keep the yukata and kimono closed in a beautiful way. 

Now, if you're somewhat savvy to the Japanese clothing, you may wonder, what's the difference between a yukata and a kimono? Well here it is simply, the yukata is a summer kimono. It has shorter sleeves and it is made of lighter material so you don't die of heat stroke. 

Yukata in Burger King? 
 For lunch, half of us went to sushi and the other half came to the ironic place of Burger King. While everyone chowed down, I couldn't help but chuckle at all the traditional Japanese clothing in an American fast food restaurant.

"Makin' my way downtown, walking slow (because the yukata/geta combo only allows small steps) faces past and I'm Kiyomizu dera bound!"
 Okay, so the "thousand mile" song by Vanessa Carlton song doesn't work too well with yukata, but seeing all the yukata in a row was really pretty! Funny enough, some Japanese people thought we were working while on our stroll. Occasionally, kimono shops will hire gaijin (foreigners) to wear thier products to make Kyoto seem better for tourism.

Rika Sensei told me that when a temple's outer wall has white lines, it signifies that that temple is a royal temple. Every so often the royal family will drop into that temple and either rest or pray there. 

Here, you can see all the wishes written on the monkies!
Walking up the street towards our main destination were a bunch of these hanging stuff animal looking things. Not knowing the traditions, I asked Rika sensei what they were. Apparently the stuffed animals are monkeys, who greatly resemble humans. Always wanting many things and having many desires. So, to attain a single wish you need to do some thinking on what you truly need. This is because in order to have a wish fulfilled, you first need to give up a desire. The hanging monkey will keep your desire protected and this will help make your wish come true.

Pausing for a moment, Darby and Amanda pose for a photo along the main road to our final destination.  

Ah, finally made it to our destination! Kiyomizu dera!  Kiyomizu-dera is a historic temple that was established in 778, even before Kyoto became the capital of Japan. Since its foundation, the temple has burned down many times. Most of the current buildings were rebuilt by the third Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu in the early Edo period (1631 to 1633). 

Jo's attempt at lifting the heaviest weight (to no avail)
Morris Sensei + Stranger = still nothing
高 (kou)'s attempt at lifting the second heaviest weight.

   Now, you might be wondering as to what my fellow classmates, strangers and teacher are doing. To the right there are iron shoes, the left (14 kg = 30lbs) the Shoshakujo staff and at the center (90 kgs = 198 lbs) Tetsushakujo staff. I'm not sure if there is a purpose to it all other than testing your strength! However, it was worth the laugh to see everyone struggle. 

I just wanted to be like Thor...
There is temple within the Kiyomizu dera that is a love temple. Apparently, if you shake this hammer you'll get luck in love. Unfortunately for me, I just wanted to look more like Thor son of Odin from the Marvel comics.
A pretty (probably diseased) plant that I found. It looks like sun rays are reflecting off the surface of the plant, but those are just spots. I was rather fascinated by it! 
Going down the stairs in geta and yukata was a lot harder than anticipated! 

 I think at the end of the day, the part that made everything so fun was that I got to experience wearing traditional Japanese clothing with my friends. We all struggled a bit at first, adjusting to taking smaller steps, and our feet were tired by the end, but we all admitted we had a lot of fun! That and I got Matcha (green tea) ice cream, so all is well that ends well.

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