Second Day in Kyoto
Probably one of the coolest things about today was that I got to wear a kimono! We rented them at a store just outside kawaramachi station in Kyoto, but there are a lot of places all around Kyoto where you can rent kimono for the day. Once we were all dressed, we made our way to Fushimi Inari, Daitokuji, and Kinkakuji.
The shop keepers at the kimono rental place were super nice. Unfortunately they didn’t speak much English, but thankfully I was with my Japanese friend so he was able to do most of the communicating. We both decided to wear Kimono and got to pick out which one we wanted to wear. Once I picked out the kimono, the shopkeepers gave me some options of different obi (the belt or sash that goes around a kimono) and obi cords (usually a rope that goes over top of the obi) that they thought would go well with the kimono I picked.
Kimono have a LOT of layers to them, and the type of kimono that you are wearing often determines what gets worn. The very first thing I did was put on the tabi socks. From there they helped me put on the undergarments. A towel was then used to tie the undergarments and another was put around my neck/shoulders. After that they put a kimono slip on me. It was the same shape as the kimono but was white and really light. Next they put on the kimono itself. A piece of cloth was put around my waist and then the obi was put on top of that. Around the obi was a cord with a flower on the front. Finally, I put on the traditional Japanese sandals. Suffice to say, wearing a kimono with all those layers in 84°F (29°C) weather was extremely hot. Plus, it was incredibly difficult to walk, only being able to take short steps at a time. Going up steps was also quite the challenge, but I eventually got the hang of it. It was all worth the effort for the experience.
Out of all the places on my “want-to-go” list, Fushimi Inari was the place I wanted to visit most, and I finally got to go! I was super excited about the 1,000 torii that covered the pathways. For some reason, I’ve always thought torii looked really, really cool, so having 1,000 of them was truly a great sight to see! Plus, there were several Kitsune (fox) statues throughout the grounds. Dragons are probably my favorite mythological being, but Kitsune are definitely my second, so seeing the different Kitsune statues were cool as well.
We made our way up several of the steps of the mountain before stopping at one of the traditional style Japanese restaurants along the way. There were no chairs, only cushions on the floor. I had seen plenty of pictures of this traditional dining style, but it was the first time I got to experience it, and getting to do so in a kimono just made the whole thing seem even more authentic.
Because Fushimi Inari was one of my favorite spots, of course I bought souvenirs. The souvenirs here were more expensive than some of the souvenirs at other temples, but the souvenirs here all had to do with the Fushimi Inari shrine, so I was willing to spend the extra money. However, if you’re just looking for generic souvenirs related to Japanese culture, I definitely wouldn’t buy them here.
We spent quite a bit of time at Fushimi Inari. It’s a really big area and takes some time to explore, especially if you go to the top of the mountain. Unfortunately we didn’t go all the way up. Climbing the steps in a restricting kimono and sandles was quite a pain, not to mention that today was going to be the hottest day of our trip. Next time I’ll definitely come back wearing better clothing and shoes. Even so, it was a super enjoyable time.
We went to Daitokuji next. The area consists of several different buildings, and unfortunately you have to pay for each building separately, so we didn’t enter them all. However, the one we did enter had a really beautiful garden and traditional Japanese architecture. I’ve been to other places with the traditional architecture and gardens, but I liked this one because of some of the colors of the plants and the layout. Plus we were wearing kimono so it somehow made everything feel so much more authentic.
Lastly we went to Kinkakuji. The shrine is made of gold and reflected off the water of the pond that surrounded it, making for a really pretty sight. Unfortunately it was a little crowded, but I was still able to get some good pictures. In terms of actual shrine buildings, Kinkakuji is probably one of the prettiest of them all.
We didn’t get to go to as many places today as we did yesterday, but it was still an absolutely incredible day. I got to go to my favorite place, and I got to do it wearing a kimono. I came to Japan to experience Japanese culture, and this was definitely it!