For the day, I rented a kimono from a shop in the Kiyomizu area. I was mesmerized when they showed me the room full of kimonos. The obasan told me I could choose any design I want. It was very difficult because there were a lot of beautiful kimonos. Being my default color choice in most occasions, I grabbed a couple of pink floral patterned ones to shortlist, but a lavender kimono with chrysanthemum patterns caught my eye. I thought it was really beautiful, so in the end I decided on it. On hindsight, I found that it was very fitting as apparently the chrysanthemum or kiku (菊) is symbol of autumn in Japan. It is said that it blooms the most during autumn.
Details of the kimono print and obi.
Choosing the kimono and the accessories easily took 30 minutes. Aside from the robe, I had to choose matching accessories. According to Kimono Source, the necessary parts of a kimono include the following: chikara nuno (collar adjustment), date jime/date maki (waistband/undersash), eri shin (half-collar lining), hadajuban (undershirt), han eri (half-collar), kari himo (temporary cord), kimono belt, koshi himo (sash), nagajuban (under-kimono), obi, obi age (bustle sash), obi ita (obi stay), obi jime (obi cord), obi makura (obi pad), susoyoke (half-slip), tabi (pure white, split-toe socks), towels, pads and zouri (sandals). Whew. There was someone assisting me to make sure I did not miss out on anything.
The process of wearing a kimono is very elaborate, it is already an art in itself. With the help of an experienced obasan, it still took around 30 minutes. It involved a lot of layers, a lot of folding, and a lot of knotting. No make up, but they put my hair up and put in some ornaments. As soon as I was finished, they made me choose a zouri, and I was off to the temple! On a side remark, the obasan told me, I would have passed off as a 'local', had not my big camera which hardly fit the purse gave me away!
View of Kyoto Tower from Kiyomizudera.
Kiyomizudera's main platform.
The Love Stone.
Dango and tea during break!
I took my time strolling Kiyomizudera. I went to Jishu Shrine, dedicated to Okuninushi, a god of love and "good matches". This is where you can find the Love Stones, 2 big stones a few meters apart which if you are able to cross with your eyes closed means that you will find your true love. There were a lot of high schoolers trying out the stone! Afterwards, I spent a while in the garden, and took a look at the small shinto shrines inside. When I got a bit tired, I rested for a while and had dango and tea.
From Kiyomizudera, I walked through the Ninenzaka and Sannenzaka Steps, down to the preserved historic streets leading to Kodaiji temple. The narrow lanes and wooden buildings gave the feeling of old Kyoto, so walking around in a kimono was somehow very fitting!
Daiunin Temple from Kodaiji.
Kodaiji Temple (高台寺).
Kodaiji's Rock Garden.
I passed by the Yasaka Pagoda, the last remnant of the Hokanji temple. It is one of the most popular landmarks of the Higashiyama District. I saw some maikos here, on their way to Gion. I stopped by some shops to take a look at some pottery and other crafts.
The foliage on the street leading to Kodaiji temple was very pretty. There were rickshaws running around, and other people dressed in kimono too. I took the stone steps leading up to Kodaiji. It was a bit challenging in a kimono and zouri, but I was able to make it.
Kodaiji's tsukiyama garden.
Graveyard inside the temple grounds.
The Bamboo Garden inside Kodaiji Temple.
I felt a bit sad when I changed back into my sweater and jacket and returned the kimono to the shop. Probably same as how Cinderalla would have felt after returning her gown after midnight, hadn't she met the prince! It was a really pretty kimono, I wish I owned it. But it was a good, memorable day. Please let me indulge in this one: I felt pretty in a kimono; it's like wearing a piece of art! In a few years, I hope I can return to Higashiyama during spring. Then I will put on a kimono again, and stroll under the cherry blossom trees :')