Kelly and I had spent a lot of time and money collecting all the necessary things to get fully dressed in furisode kimono--that's the formal kimono with the extra long sleeves. It's worn typically when girls turn twenty until they are about twenty-five or so, and if I recall correctly, is an indication that a young woman is of marriageable age and intent. Because of the long sleeves and the formality of the kimono, furisode kimono accessories like the undergarments (there are three layers of them!), obi (the fancy belt/corset) and zori (the wedge-style shoes, not the wooden geta sandals) are fancier and more expensive. Still, we managed to get some pretty good deals on some used pieces, and finally we had it all (though the shoes were the hardest part for me, as Japanese shoes and my feet were not made from the same mold). Kelly and I really wanted to have a chance to wear our kimono together, and as the end of her year gets closer every day, we knew we should do it up while we still had a chance and the weather wasn't yet too hot for all the layers we were going to be wearing (Japanese summers are brutally humid).
So, two weeks ago today, we went for it! We gathered up all the things we'd bought and took them to a beauty salon in Himeji. Kelly is currently taking a class on how to dress oneself in kimono, but the fact is we were nowhere ready to try and tackle this on our own. Just practicing putting on the underwear and the ties correctly had been frustrating. So we paid approximately $150 each to be dressed by a professional and get our hair done. The ladies were nice and did my makeup for free. Still, once I was fully dressed, including the cost of getting that way, I was wearing the most expensive outfit I'd ever worn, even fancy stage costumes aside.
Still, it was entirely worth it. All day long, we watched as people spontaneously exploded in smiles when they saw us. I have never in my whole life had my picture taken more in one day. Japanese people, foreigners, everyone wanted a shot with us. Here's one of the first photos taken after we got fully dressed and made up:
The lady in this photo is the employee at the kimono shop who took a lot of her own time to help Kelly and I find the needed items at good prices, calling around to other shops in the area. We went to thank her and snapped a photo before going off to Kyoto!
We met up with our Japanese friend Megumi in Kyoto. This is a photo of the three of us just arriving and Kyomizudera, the temple we spent most of the day at taking photos and being photographed.
Cherry blossom season was just about over by the time we were there, but I found a few late bloomers to enjoy!
We got our pictures taken with folks all day, but we had the most fun with this jr. high tennis team. Aren't they cute?
We took a lot more photos, of course, but this is nice sampling, I think. Hope you get a smile out of it too, because we enjoyed it ever so much!
See you folks in a week or so!