This is the first Photo of the Week in a long time. I have been busy, and so I’m sorry for letting this fall off. So, it’s with great pleasure to re-introduce the POTW with this one from Mariko earlier this year. You can see her story about her kimono photo shoot. You can purchase a licence to use this photo at Alamy.
Tag Archive for kyoto
The following article was written by the model you see in the photos, Mariko. It was a pleasure to work with her, and despite the cold, she did really well. A special thanks Mariko for writing your experiences below. These photos are available in the Mariko II Gallery.
Renting a kimono in Kyoto
Have you ever wondered what it’d be like to wear a kimono? Well, if you’re in Kyoto you can rent one. It’s not expensive, and you can drop in and be on your way fairly quickly and easily. Kimonos are usually worn in winter and the intermediate seasons, and the lighter yukata is worn in summer. Men can rent kimonos, too, but this is my experience on the day of the photo shoot.
Andrew and I arrived at the kimono rental store not long after opening at 9am. When we entered, a lady behind a counter took the name of my reservation and then directed me to remove my shoes and put them in a bag, along with the rest of my belongings. I said bye to Andrew (no men allowed!), then I was led into the kimono room. There were rows upon rows of beautiful kimonos hanging on racks. There were two racks that were listed as around 5000yen, and a third rack was listed at 8000yen. The 8000yen kimonos were brightly coloured and absolutely gorgeous of course, and you could tell they were higher quality. That’s not to say the other kimonos weren’t beautiful as well, but if you want brighter colours and don’t want to pay for the more expensive choices I would suggest getting there early as there were only a handful left that weren’t more muted purples, blacks and blues.
A size chart hanging on the wall listed sizes as being S,M,L and LL, these refer to height! Compared to Japanese women, I’m pretty tall (174cm / 5’9”) so I chose size L and that worked well for me. It was really difficult to choose a kimono! They were all so lovely and there were so many of them. There were lots of young Japanese women also choosing kimono and we were all taking our time looking through the racks. Finally I settled on a purple flowered kimono and then came the next tough decision; the obi, a kind of cummerbund for women’s kimonos. There were shelves piled with obi of every shade of every colour imaginable. At this point I needed a professional and so asked the opinion of the lady working in the kimono room (who also spoke a little English). She recommended me a yellow obi telling me it would look “nihon-poi”, Japanese style, which goes well with the purple kimono I chose.
Taking the kimono, obi and the bag of my things in hand into the next room I waited for my turn to be dressed. There were two women working very efficiently in the room, wrapping and tying kimonos onto women in front of full-length mirrors. The first thing they put on you is a lightweight plain undergarment, a kind of a kimono-slip. After that goes on it is easy to remove jeans or other bottoms without showing everyone your underwear. It’s a good idea to wear a tank-top or some other non-baggy top that you can keep on under the kimono if you’re uncomfortable undressing fully in front of other people. Because it was late winter, I wore heat-tech, a kind of thermal undershirt popular in Japan.
After the slip, there was a second under-kimono that was yellow and a little less plain, and then finally the purple kimono. In the photos you can see the elegance of the yellow layer under the purple. I only needed to stand there while the woman worked around me, occasionally raising my arms as she wrapped, tied and tightened. After the kimono and obi were on I was told to choose either a shawl or a kimono jacket from the back of the room as well as a purse. I chose a light shawl for the photo shoot, but if I were hanging out with friends in winter, I’d prefer the kimono jacket. Then I was sent to another room for hair.
At the hair station I could choose which style I wanted from photographs hanging on the wall. The hairstylist worked very quickly and the result looked great! As a finishing touch I picked a yellow flower hairpin from an assortment of pins and combs. I transferred my important belongings to the purse I borrowed, while the bag with my shoes and my regular purse was put in a back room for safe-keeping. After paying for the rental I slipped on a pair of zori (kimono shoes) and went back down the elevator with Andrew, ready to walk around Gion dressed in beautiful traditional Japanese style.
After the photo shoot we returned to the store and returned the kimono. I left still with my stylish hair in place, and I could keep the tabi, which are a kind of sock for kimonos.
Note from Andrew:
Mariko looked fantastic on the shoot. The colours were complimentary, and the main patterns were striking and others subtle. Also her hair was absolutely elegant, and her hair decoration nicely matched her obi. Her zori nicely matched the kimono, so the whole look was superb. We returned the kimono to the store, but some stores allow you to return it to your hotel reception, but double check the details first. We couldn’t really walk fast in the kimono, as walking seemed a little restricted for her, so we casually had time to properly enjoy the sights around Yasaka Shrine and the main Gion tourist area. In all, it was great working with Mariko, and a fun shoot.
If you’re in Gion or in the Kiyomizu Temple area and you see women in kimonos, a “maiko”, or a “geisha”, and if you think she might be Japanese, listen carefully, she might actually be Taiwanese or Chinese, though many young Japanese ladies do rent kimonos in Kyoto, too. Kimono rentals are quite popular, where this one kimono store we went to apparently handles about 200 clients a day, and there are quite a few in Gion. You’ll see some young couples and groups of ladies enjoying strolling about the tourist areas of Gion all dressed up, and some stores can dress you up in full maiko or geisha garb. Some stores will even give you a special “passport” which can give you discounts at certain stores, including two-for-one lunch deals in high class restaurants, but only if at least one person is wearing a kimono or yukata.
So, why not enjoy the experience yourself. It’ll be a photo op and bragging rights you won’t soon forget.
NB: The shoot is in Japan, and only open to anyone (aged 20 and older) in the Osaka area. The shoot can be scheduled for the afternoon or evening of the 23rd or the morning of the 24th January. Please note that the payment is in yen, not US dollars or other currency. This is reposted from the Model Mayhem model call.
Wanted: male and female models or couples (gay and straight) for (outdoor) traveller / tourist type of photos, and candid-like street portraiture. Clothing should be nice, simple, but of tourist-like appearance. Photos will be similar to this and further below.
Theme: Candid street portraits and traveller / tourism
Location: Streets and tourist areas of central Osaka (TBA), or Gion Kyoto.
When: 23rd Jan (afternoon or evening), and 24th Jan (morning only)
Required: Models will sign a model release to allow the photos to be used for commercial purposes.
For general model call information, see Model Call or Contact me here or via JapanesePhotos.Asia for more information.
General advice: Please where full length heat-tech or thermal underclothing, and no clothing with brand logos or print designs. Please do not bring large or heavy bags; you can keep them in a train station locker.
Looking for something a little bit different and to enjoy this weekend? Try Kyoto. Well, it is my favourite place and an obvious choice if you know me. Despite the flooding damage caused by Monday’s typhoon, it was reported that most shops at popular tourist destinations were already cleaned up, restocked, and re-opened by Wednesday. If you’re looking for something interesting, wanting to financially support a community, and enjoy the last of the summer sun, this is the place. For more photos go to the Kyoto gallery, and check the Kyoto blog tags for more info.
On the 3rd September 1868 the de-facto capital of Japan, Edo, was renamed “Tokyo”. At that time, Edo was already the cultural and political centre of Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate (Wikipedia: Edo), and so it only made sense to the Japanese at that time to move the emperor from Kyoto to Tokyo. In case you haven’t noticed, the Roman-spelling similarities between Kyoto and Tokyo, let me explain. “Kyoto” in Chinese characters is 京都, as in ‘kyo’ and ‘to’; and Tokyo is 東京, as in ‘to’ 東 and ‘kyo’ 京. Whilst ‘kyo’ is the same character, ‘to’ is the same pronunciation of two different characters. The Kyoto ‘to’ is a historical hangover from it’s early name, ‘kyo-no-miyako’ (京の都), which means ‘capital city’, but has since been shortened (Wikipedia: Kyoto).
As for photos… how can I say this? In all the years I’ve lived in Japan, I’ve never visited Tokyo (update 2016, I have now). I’ve been to Fukuoka, Kyoto (lots), Osaka, Nara, Fukui, Shirakawa, Takayama (of course you know these places), but not Tokyo. So, this photo represents the closest connection I have with Tokyo, an airplane-window view of downtown Tokyo and Tokyo Bay (Google Maps). Thanks to JapanThis on twitter for alerting me to this.
View of Tokyo & Tokyo Bay on a flight to Nagoya.
Earlier, the BBC News website reported that there was a fireworks explosion, injuring and seriously injuring about 50 people including children in Kyoto, and of which caused the cancellation of a fireworks display (BBC News). It was later revealed that it was a food stall or similar (like shown below) was using a generator and possibly was refilling the generator fuel tank when some fuel splashed onto the generator itself, causing a fire and explosion of the fuel tank. Then later a second fuel tank exploded, of which was recorded and released on the internet. Stalls like these below are typical scenes seen all over Japan for all festival and cultural events. See the Japan Today article for more information. These images, and others like them are available at my portfolio and my agent’s website.
Both images are typical stalls found at all Japanese festivals. The lights are typically powered by fuel generators.
Images like these are available at http://ablyth.photoshelter.com.
It’s that time of year, when people go on holidays and holiday destinations get… popular. Here is my all time favourite city, Kyoto. In particular this Photo of the Week is of the Torii Gates at Fushimi Inari, from the Temples and Shrines collection. According to Wikipedia, Fushimi Inari was founded in 711 (ironic, Japan loves 7-11) to worship Inari, the god of businesses, merchants, and manufacturers. It is an amazing place to walk through. You can spend an entire morning strolling around the hills where these make paths enjoying a surreal-like adventure land. However, this time of year… and considering it’s Kyoto, take a thermos filled with your favourite cold drink from a vending machine, and a fan; you will sweat.
It’s not often I get to release a new batch of art photos into the wild. This collection is simply called New Religion. The base set of images are of Fushimi Inari Shrine and Daigo Temple in Kyoto, whilst the second are of commercial scenes including shops near Fushimi Inari Shrine, and Sakae and Osu shopping areas of Nagoya. New Religion, I hope, will have people pause and reconsider the things they worship, the daily and weekly rituals they have, as well as the intellectual and spiritual nourishment they get. Some of these images will be displayed at the up coming Foreign Artists Exhibition. Stay tuned for details.
All images are available for sale at the New Religion gallery. Available for download, and as high quality gallery-standard prints.
This Photo of the Week is a simple one, but I really like it. A guy in a traditional store in Gion Kyoto adding more items to display. It’s more in the tourist area than the Geisha area, but it’s still Gion. Many shop keepers in Japan choose to wear these kinds if clothes, so I don’t regard it a costume for the benefit of tourists. This image, and more like it, are available at my agent’s website Asia Photo Connection / Henry Westheim.
This Photo of the Week is from the infamous Gion Kyoto. It is a huge tourist attraction, drawing in tens of millions of Japanese and foreign tourists annually. The highlight has been Kinkakuji or “Golden Pavilion”. However, I decided to show something that you can imagine yourself in… Gion and a rickshaw. You and your boyfriend / girlfriend / husband / wife / family / buddies can rent a kimono (each) and stroll around Kyoto as though you were a Gion resident a hundred years ago, take a rickshaw ride to see a blossoming plum tree, go to a restaurant or tea house, before returning to the kimono rental store, before having a night out on the town. See more Kyoto photos on my PhotoShelter portfolio.