Tradition: Dress

I didn’t get a chance to go to Gion when I was in Kyoto which is the Geisha district, so I didn’t see any when I was there.  I did watch this BBC documentary about the training to become one which is quite interesting.

It was released the same year as the film Memoirs of a Geisha, so it’s no surprise that it doesn’t deviate from that view of the life of a geisha (I’m not ashamed to admit that I loved the book, but the film was painful, though pretty, to watch).  It’s an interesting perspective of the relevance of the profession today which is essentially a way of preserving aspects of Japanese traditional culture.

The most spectacular aspect is the elaborate costumes the geisha and maiko wear to set them apart from modern society.  However, I’ve been surprised by the amount of Japanese people I have seen in traditional dress since I’ve been here.  Apparently it has become quite popular with the young people, both men and women, particularly for festivals during the summer.  A yukata is the summer version of the kimono, usually made of cotton and can be got for quite cheap.  They look so comfortable, not to mention cool, in both senses of the word.  I may have to purchase one, though I would be too embarrassed to wear it in public without being accompanied by a Japanese person to lend me the authority to be seen like that.  These photos are from a fireworks festival in Kanazawa and a lantern festival in Nara (more to come on Nara).

Purikura PreparationsYukata ObiLittle ObiSitting by the TempleCouple with TempleYukata at the TempleCouple with DeerCouple with PagodaTying the ObiGirl with Staircase


I might as well start as I mean to go on.

I went to Kyoto for the weekend mainly as an excuse to meet up with other Irish people and have a good time.  That we did, in the sense that people associate with the Irish, but we also managed to see a few cultural sites such as Kinkaku-ji, known as the Golden Pavilion.

Originally built in 1397 as a retirement villa for a shogun then converted into a temple. It was burnt down in 1950 by a troubled Buddhist monk and reconstructed in 1955 with the gold-foil covering extending to the lower floors. (Lonely Planet)

Golden Pavilion

 We also visited Ryoan-ji which is famous for its Zen gardens.  Contemplation can be exhausting though.

PondTree FoodTired OutBuddhaMossy GardenZen GardenRocksPebblesCalligraphic ScreensTemple InteriorZenned Out