Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Seikoro Ryokan, Kyoto, Kyoto, Part II

With just one hour before dinner was served, two Seikoro Ryokan staff ushered me, hubby, C., and A. upstairs for the kimono trying and photographing session. I'd no idea we'd get to try on the Karaginu Mo aka junihitoe, the twelve-layer robes the court ladies once wore. Wow!


Thank goodness the room was air-conditioned, because we had to wear our own clothing underneath to keep the robes clean. Our white kosode robe was calf-length and cotton, and the red and purple nagabakama split skirts were also cotton.


To shorten the preparation time, the ryokan staff had kept all the layers of the junihitoe together and ready, so that we could put the whole thing on all at once. They used to go layer by layer back in the days, skipping and/or shedding some depending on temperature and season. C. picked pink and I went with purple.


The namesake karaginu waist-length jacket went on last. C.'s was green and mine a lavender. Oof, the whole thing was so heavy I could barely lift my feet. The extra length didn't help and I resorted to drag myself forward with each step. My god, did they really wear this back when there was no air conditioning? O.o And in the middle of the blistering hot and humid summer?!? O.O The answer was yes to both.

The Seikoro ladies went even further with some self-deprecating humor, poking fun at how Kyoto was known for its tradition of ki-daore (着倒れ) or dress until you drop (because they love dressing up in Kyoto), as opposed to Osaka's kui-daore (食い倒れ) or eat until you drop (because they love to eat in Osaka). The full proverb is "Kyo no ki daore, Osaka no kui daore" (京の着倒れ, 大阪の食い倒れ) or "dress until you drop in Kyo[to] and eat until you drop in Osaka." In the case of the Kyoto court ladies, the dress-until-you-drop was quite literal due to heatstroke +.+

The result was two rainbow parrots ^.^ In fact, the ladies explained to us that these exotic birds were brought into Japan from overseas and thus became a symbol of status. And so the court ladies sought to mimic the birds' colorful plumes with silks, dyes, and embroideries that cost an enormous fortune. Nowadays, a full set costs $5-6k for one day's rent. Want a set made? Sure, if you have $100k+ lying around. Crown Princess Masako's junihitoe cost a cool $350k! Sounds extreme, but mind you a "normal" set of kimono already costs upwards $20k.


The large fans were accessories of decorum and not just weather. In olden times, ladies and gentlemen communicated not face to face but through sudare screens or blinds. In absence of sudare, ladies used fans to cover their faces in modesty. In absence of fans, they used their sleeves. I suppose the sleeves would work best for me because I have an extremely sensitive nose. With my court gal-pals all wearing 12 layers of silk in the heat and humidity, I might need to just walk around like this.

Here are our namesake mo, the apron-like train down the back of our robes.

Group photos with the hubbies in simple yukatas.

There were twelve layers, exactly as named. We were told the junihitoe we had on weighed 15kg (33lbs.)! If you look closely at my dark purple top robe layer, you'll see that those round patterns of embroidery are actually of two parrots.

Just dropped 33lbs, quite literally! Talk about feeling lighter! All of us had such a blast, including the Seikoro ladies who admitted to us they haven't had this much fun in a long while ^.^ If you ever plan a stay at this ryokan which I totally recommend, I'd urge you to give the junihitoe session a try. Truly an unforgettable experience. I do believe they have different sets of junihitoe with colors appropriate for the seasons.

Next up: two kaiseiki meals and two breakfasts, because we spent two nights at Seikoro ^.^

See my previous Seikoro Ryokan, Kyoto, Kyoto post.

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