Tango Kimono Matsuri

Aside from catching up with old friends, one of my main reasons for visiting Tango last weekend was to attend the Tango Kimono Matsuri at Amanohashidate.  Since living in Japan, I have never missed the festival.  I wasn't about to let a three hour train (or bus) ride get in the way!

Kumi was kind enough to loan me one of her kimonos since all of mine are still in the UAE.  After a breakfast of persimmons, nashi and freshly baked bread, we made our way to my old kimono class teacher's house. 

Oe-sensei is a professional when it comes to kimono.  Not only does she teach a community class each year, but she also does hair and dresses people in kimono for events.  Whether it be for a wedding, graduation or just because, people still have the need to wear kimono as it is formal dress in Japan.  Unfortunately it is becoming a bit of a lost art, but that's where people like Oe-sensei come in.

She started by styling my hair.  When you wear kimono, your hair should be worn up, off of your shoulders and back.  That is one bit that the movie Memoirs of a Geisha got wrong.  A maiko or geisha would NEVER be caught wearing kimono with their hair down!!

Next, Oe-sensei dressed me in the kimono.  Although I learned how to do it, it has been a couple of years since I put one on by myself, so I left it to her.  There are so many layers and ties and yes, there is a right and wrong way to do it all!!

Tah Dah!!

We took a quick coffee break before hitting the road.

The weather didn't really cooperate.  It was drizzling all day.  Rain and kimonos don't really go together, so most of the usual events at the festival had to be cancelled and everything took place indoors.  It was still fun to see all of the beautiful kimonos and catch up with the many friends I ran into. 

Part of the festival includes participating in tea ceremony.  First you are brought a small sweet which you eat before drinking the bitter matcha green tea.  The sweets vary depending on the season or where you are.  Today's happened to be chion mochi, the wisdom mochi that Amanohashidate is famous for.

Next, you are brought a bowl of steaming matcha.  After being handed the bowl, you are meant to turn it so that the front of the bowl faces away from you.  The front of the bowl is often nearly impossible to determine (although if you watch a Japanese person you will be convinced they can tell the front of the bowl from the back!!).  Then, you should sip the tea noisily, finishing it in three large sips.  I usually skip the three sip rule, because its scalding hot!!  Just be sure to slurp it up noisily no matter what!  Lastly, admire the bowl (no, seriously.  Just do it) before turning the bowl back the way it was given to you and returning it to the person who presented it to you.  Definitely say "oishii!" and claim it was delicious even if it was bitter and disgusting!!

Making a plan of attack...

In a fancy hotel down the road there was a kimono bazaar where local vendors sold new and used kimonos, kimono accessories and other chirimen goods.  My good friend Toru is in the family chirimen business and was quite the salesman!

There are multiple chances to win prizes.  I got the generic consolation prize of a bag full of junk food - no complaints here!  At the end of the day there is a huge raffle where the really big prizes are given away.  Kumi won a 4-day trip to Bali for two!!!!

Zori might be the most uncomfortable shoes ever.  They rank right up there with stilettos if you ask me!

I was catching the bus back to Osaka from Amanohashidate, so I did a very classy wardrobe change in the back of a very small car, then said my goodbyes before strolling along Amonohashidate while I waited on the bus. 

It was so quiet and peaceful.  I can't think of a better way to end my whirlwind weekend in Tango.

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