Friday, 5 December 2014
The time I accidentally became a kimono model in Tokyo | Japan
Hey guys! So an uber Japan orientated post today, I had the amazing experience this week of being able to wear kimono and thought I'd share the photos. The exchange student center at my university here often offers odd jobs to exchange students, and a fancy department store in Tokyo was looking for some foreign students to model kimono (we had no idea why, especially as a) we are not japanese and b) we were wondering why they wouldn't go to a model agency for that sort of thing and c) I clearly have the model qualities of a spoon). So after class I hopped on the first train and went to achieve my model destiny.
It turns out the department store runs a Japanese experience for tourists and people living in Japan for a short time, so foreigners can experience things like wearing kimono, tea ceremony etc. They wanted to take pictures in order to advertise the kimono side of the experience, so we had photos taken off us choosing our kimono, being dressed, and then walking around the neighbourhood of the area and visiting a shrine. First of all it is a pretty long process being dressed in kimono, I reckon it took about 15 minutes each to be dressed? There are a lot of layers involved, padding, tightening and tying bits in place til your body has the 'tubular' look that kimono expresses.
After about 10 minutes of being in a kimono (which is essentially like wearing very tight spanx on your torso while looking extremely elegant on the outside), I realised I couldn't breathe has deeply as I would've liked to so kind of had to keep myself calm haha, but as long as you don't panic it's fine! Also going to the loo would have been impossible, we didn't even attempt to. I'm guessing when people wear them they have to invest in a SheWee or get a friend to help. Going for a walk in the neighbourhood was hilarious, as our gaijin feet were too big for the geta (sandals) and the fact kimono doesn't allow you to step far meant we struggled to walk; and the area is full of businesses so we had loads of salarymen and passers by taking pictures of us on their mobiles, and trying to make us laugh while our picture was being taken!
Overall was such an amazing experience and the people who run it were so lovely to us (especially considering our efforts to make conversation in pigeon Japanese), when the official photos are published I'll try and link them here! xx
((I wanna put a small cultural appropriation disclaimer here as I recognise the the whole white girl in a kimono thing is a little problematic, the Japanese department store specifically wanted gaijin (foreign) models to advertise a Japanese experience they do FOR gaijin tourists in Japan where they get to experience things like wearing kimono and tea ceremony. My friend and I were not 100% comfortable (espesh with having photos of us taken at a shrine) with the implications, but the fact we were asked by Japanese people to wear kimono to me kind of symbolises consent from the people whose culture the kimono is from. So that's my take on it, obvs I would not gallivant around Tokyo in a kimono normally))