I am now half way done with this series and although it’s been a month since this trip, reliving it through writing has been awesome! I have previously mentioned that Japan isn’t placed high on my priority travel list, therefore I had a pretty short ‘Things to Do in Tokyo’ list. Up there at number one is to wear a kimono! The first thing I booked is literally kimono rentals for C and me after we got our travel visa. I had been researching for this experience for weeks and decided to rent from Sakura Photo Studio. There were a lot of rentals that were significantly cheaper but this price was a steal considering that you do not have to buy new socks (average price is at 600 yen in other rental stores) and that hairstyle is included in the price. I looked through Youtube videos of braided updos for wearing kimonos and it was not the easiest thing to do at all.
Our appointment was scheduled for 10 AM and we were staying 30 minutes away from Asakusa via the train, hence we left at around 9:30 AM. As it turns out, the store was nearer to the other train station (in the Ginza line, not the Chiyoda line) and we had to walk another 20 minutes to get there. C and I ended up 30 minutes late for our appointment but luckily, they still entertained us (it was also already paid for lol). C and I booked the Basic Plan (5000 yen/person), and we were given RACKS of kimonos to choose from. C, of course, went for the black one because I initially told him that I would try to find a ninja costume rental for him while I put on a kimono. Haha! It was overwhelming to have five racks with all the color combinations and patterns you can imagine on a kimono, and to top it all off, you also have to select the obi and bag to go with it.
There were a group of three girls that had their appointment the same time as us, and we had to wait for our turn since there were only two members of the staff that were there to dress all five of us. We had on yukatas which are made of lighter material than kimonos and is used during summer time. I don’t know how you would wear this if you were alone because there were so many things that were wrapped around my body, and the woman dressing me instructed me to stay still while I hold up my arms and keep my feet together. Midway, I was thinking why I even wanted to do this. Haha!
We left our clothes and all our other belongings that did not fit into the bag I chose in the store and proceeded to walk to Senso-ji Temple. It was noon by then, but fortunately, the slippers I had on were the comfiest I had ever worn. I was even debating whether to buy a pair for myself to take home, but the price decided for me at nearly 4000 yen. I’m not sure where else you can buy it, but that seemed to be the average price at the nearby stores.
Since we haven’t had breakfast yet, we went and ate brunch at a packed ramen place. It was pricier than the restaurants located near our apartment, but it’s to be expected given that we were in a tourist spot.
Sorry to say, the ramen was sub par. The flavors could not compare to all our previous ramen meals in Japan. We were really disappointed with it. 😦
After brunch, we headed to Senso-ji Temple! It is probably the most touristy shrine in Tokyo (granted we only went to this one and Meiji Shrine, but that’s for the next post). Traveling as a couple without a tripod is always a challenge, but we were lucky to find other Filipino tourists who quickly snapped this photo for us along Nakamise-dori.
The Kaminari-mon Gate was under renovation (?) when we visited, and it was fully covered so we didn’t have any pictures with it.
The Hozo-mon Gate was intact so atleast we still got to view at least one gate?
We went on a Saturday so it was jam-packed with tourists and locals alike. We saw a couple of other folks in traditional clothing but somehow, ours look more elaborate and we garnered a bit of attention. We’ve had random tourists come up to us and literally take a photo (there were a few who even stood near us and did the classic peace sign pose while having their photo taken), or ask us where to rent their own.
I think the funniest encounter was C gasping out in surprise as three grandmas fussed over him. They fixed his kimono (apparently, it was ruffled in some places) and kept telling him “handsome, handsome” while giggling like schoolgirls. They even gave me a conspiratorial wink and said “nice body”, and I’m pretty sure that’s not directed to me. Hide yo grandmas!
We saw this knife shop, and C was contemplating if we can take home a knife with our check in luggage. He decided against it because we weren’t sure if we will have to surrender it at the airport. What a waste of money that would have been.
Aside from the Senso-ji Temple, there are so many things to see and do in Asakusa. We were given a map by the rental store marked with places of interest. Although we followed the map, C and I weren’t always completely sure where we were (we were trying to locate the Geisha village?). Hahaha!
We walked aimlessly around the neighborhood and bought so many vending machine drinks.
The kimono rental website had a few photos of hairstyles to choose from, but I saw three other girls get their hair done, and none of us had the same hairstyle. It is very nice, to say the least of it. I even did my usual braid test that I do every time I braid my hair, and it is to headbang like I’m at a rock concert – not a single hair fell out of place!
We can keep wearing the kimono and go anywhere as long as we return it by 5 PM, however, it was very constricting and we ended up giving it back after a few hours. My barely existent boobies are now free (the woman helping me undress laughed when I said that out loud)! I would miss the flat tummy, though. 😛 We missed the caricature place and only found it when we had already taken off our traditional clothes, and we agreed that it would be better if we had on our yukatas for our caricature. We keep finding reasons to go back!
We spent the entire day just exploring Asakusa because there were so many sidestreets to get into! There’s also a Don Quijote which was basically a gigantic department store full of cheap products. C and I were so engrossed into looking for items we could buy that we even lost track of each other! I ended up buying packs of Japanese snacks here. I wanted to do a cosmetics haul but there’s just too many, I was too overwhelmed to choose!
Looking for a place to have dinner in also proved to be a challenge.
Before we knew it, we had unknowingly walked back to the temple.
It is way more beautiful at night, with the Tokyo Tower lighted up in the background, and there were fewer people. The downside is that all the souvenir shops that lined the street to the shrine are already closed and it was only around 7 PM.
Only the restaurants and pubs stay open until late. There was such a stark contrast between the environment during the day and once the sun sets.
Present us with so many choices – and we end up not picking anything. For the third time in a row, C and I bought dinner from Kitchen Origin. He has fallen in deep infatuation over their different flavors of karaage while I made it my mission to try out all their varieties of onigiri. Yum! I’m drooling just writing about it now. My favorite was their tuna onigiri!
Look at what I found in the vending machine! A mashup of tea and yogurt, and it tastes similarly to Yakult lol.
Special thanks to the women of Sakura Kimono rental for my awesome braided updo (which I deconstructed later in the day). They pinned it so securely, I bet I could sleep on it and wake up with the same hairstyle.
Surprisingly, not a lot of people I know try traditional clothing whenever they visit a country. I really like this experience because I feel like it’s the only time I can do so and be culturally appropriate. What do you think? Let me know in the comments! 🙂