I was lucky to experience some more traditional Japanese culture – Kimono in Kitsuki city!
Wearing a kimono is not just a matter of putting on two-toed white socks, wrapping into a robe and finishing it all off with an obi-belt. The kimono consists of white robe that goes under the kimono, few tight fabric belts to make sure the posture is right, then the kimono that is tightly wrapped, plus the belt and some strings to tie it up. I am sure I missed some parts. Altogether, it took about 20 minutes to get the whole deal on.
After taking a picture in the kimono, I had 3 hours to wander around the historical Kitsuki city and see its’ Samurai houses (which I did not go into, because I wasn’t aware of the free admission for kimonos).
The walking was rather painful in the too small shoes, I might confess. Those Geishas probably didn’t run anywhere, but they sure had good posture!
It was fun to wear a kimono – I definitely felt like being someone else. Everyone was saying hello, smiling and complementing me, which never feels too shabby. I was also glad to get the dress off. I would really like to wear a kimono again, if it means that I just have to stand while someone is dressing me like a doll!
Next quarter I will have a course called the Japanese Traditional Arts, but impatient as I am, I already went to see (and participate in) the Tea Ceremony circle’s practice.
The circle gathers twice a week to practice the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Some of the members have been practicing for several years, and they still have a lot to learn and remember!
I tried to follow the ceremony rules as best as I could, though with the language barrier it was a bit challenging. I tried the okashi as well as the powdered matcha green tea, which was foamy and definitely not like your regular cup of lipton (not that I ordinarily would ever drink Lipton, but matcha was something quite unique).
The okashi (traditional sweets served before eating) was delicious sweet mochi. I have to admit, it was a bit of a challenge to get the mochi to my napkin with the chopsticks, since all the club members were staring and making notions of my left-handed work.
The tea ceremony had 2 tea drinkers besides me, then one person making the tea, another talking (apparently something about the tea and okashi), and third person was serving the okashi and tea. There was numerous bowing and cup turning – in my turn, I was supposed to bow to each and ask both my sempai (seniors) if they wanted to have my tea, and then ask the tea maker as well. Unfortunately I forgot the phrases as soon as I uttered them out.
I truly wish I spoke Japanese and would be able to understand the meanings of the ceremony – after few months the secrets will hopefully start revealing. Until then, I will drink my tea without any fuss of turning the cup around and bowing 14 times before drinking. Maybe next time I will understand what is happening and why – maybe one day I will get to foam my own tea as well.