TBT: Musings in Japan: Most Importantly, Kimonos!

One of the most memorable moments and experiences during my stay in Japan was the day we spent learning about its art of refinement and culture. To be honest, I don't remember much about how we got there. I was simply too excited about the cultural activities - mostly the opportunity to wear a kimono and take pictures in it. I think most of us were. I need only close my eyes and I can recall the excitement bubbling in us, our youth a simmering cauldron of brewing memories. Each one experiencing the same things, but through different lenses.

We were separated into three alternating groups. My group started off with the the beautiful art of ikebana, which is a delicate process of flower arrangement that is aesthetically pleasing, yet simple in appearance. Beauty in simplicity, natural/organic in composition, elegant in stature. I noticed this was a recurring theme in Japanese culture. This is merely my opinion so feel free to correct me if I'm wrong. Anyway, ikebana was a whole lot harder than I realized. It truly is an art!

We were given a visual demonstration on how a woman's kimono and man's yukata were put on. It's rather complicated and involves many layers. What I really really fascinating was the tying and knotting of the obi. It looks like a beautiful little flower backpack. Although I was aware of how expensive kimonos are, I was still shocked to find out some could go up to millions! It's understandable, though. Just look at it and you already know.

We learned a bit about the tea ceremony. One of the women served and instructed us on the proper etiquette when drinking matcha tea. This also was rather complicated, but oh so captivating to watch. Top grade matcha has such a beautiful green (and it's very expensive!). Bright and earthy, bitter and deliciously frothy. I enjoyed it very much. We were given beautiful Japanese sweet cakes to drink with the matcha and it was a match made in heaven.

 We were to learn calligraphy next. It was mesmerizing watching our sensei paint each character stroke by stroke with her skillful, steady hand. It was also very difficult. She had made it look so easy with her effortless movements. We took a break for lunch, which was a bento box consisting of steamed rice with chestnuts (these were very good), fried chicken pieces (similar to popcorn chicken), some tamago, salted sesame string beans, and that thing next to it (sorry, I really don't know what it was!). It was a wholesome, tasty meal. I loved it.

And finally, the moment we had all been waiting for had arrive at last. Our group was running out of time as we were the last. Most of us girls had busted out our red lipstick prior to the commencement of the activites. We must look pretty while in our borrowed kimonos, you know? Rather than the demure and exquisite front, I find the back of a kimono much more interesting with the ornate obi and the hair all done up, exposing the back of the neck. It's no wonder the Japanese consider it alluring. I certainly do! It's probably why I like photographing back shots of people. When the attention is no longer focused on the face, it brings to mind a feeling of solemnity and mystery.

Look how adorable and pretty we all were. The stark contrast between the kimonos for women and men was quite noticeable. It was all very sad when we had to take them off. At the time when I was being fitted, I thought the obi was quite binding. It was a little hard to breathe, and it made me wonder what an actual corset felt like! Apparently, the person who was in charge of me had bound me too tightly in her haste to get us all dressed and out into the garden. One of the others found out about it later when she was removing my kimono and apologized profusely for that mistake. Who knew? I just shrugged it off and politely told her it was fine.

We made these cute little boxes as well. I still have mine. It's currently being used to hold some of my makeup things.

P.S. These photos really bring me back. I can't believe it's been four years.

Until next time...!



  1. Wow! This post is incredible! It has always been a dream of mine to visit Japan and learn more about the culture. The opportunity to wear a kimono and learn how to tie an obi? Plus, ikebana, tea ceremony and calligraphy? How absolutely incredible!

    If you don't mind me asking, how were you able to take this learning opportunity? Was it through school?

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience! This was a really remarkable read!


    1. Hello! Thank you for your comments. Indeed, it was through our school's EAP study abroad program and this day at the culture center was part of the itinerary. It really felt like a dream come true! I hope you are able to fulfill your dream of visiting Japan. You will fall in love with it. It is a beautiful country.


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