Again I decided to opt for the bus ticket as I was planning to start my days sightseeing some distance from the hostel. I took the bus to the Zenrinji Temple in the north of Kyoto. this was quite a quiet temple not unlike many of the others i have seen. I then walked north a way to the start of the Path of Philosophy, which begins with the Nyakuoji shrine. The path looked rather spectacular with all its cherry blossoms starting to bloom and the crowds were out for the occassion. Mostly Japanese and American, it seems love the blossoms.
As i was walking along the path i came across a japanese man doing some drawings sitting on a bridge. His drawings were so good that I bought one of a close up of a dragonfly hovering with a mountain background, and it only cost 1000yen.
There were several other things that stood out to me along the way, there were many smal craft shops, one in particular was selling Levi jeans that had paintings on them. another thing i saw was where someone had set up a couple of teddys to look like they are fishing.
At the end of the path,and feeling fully enlightened, I went to Ginkakuji temple, otherwise known as the silver pavilion. The temple itself was under restoration, but the gardens were very nice themselves. And i got to see some VIP moss, which is something quite spectacular! And a key ingredient if i am to have my own japanese style garden.
After visiting the pavillion i had some time still to kill before my 3pm appointment, so i decided to take a wonder around and came to Yoshida hill, not something that many tourists would visit and in fact i only saw 3 people the whole time i was walking around it, which was quite nice compared with the hoards of people that were on the path and at the pavilion. And the shrine had a torii so i was very happy with that!
From here I caught the bus down to gion to meet Rachel. We met a little early and so i took her to the street where i had been the night before and seen the geisha, since she had ended up at the wrong street that same night. From there we walked to find the photo studio where we were to be made into geish ourselves.
The process of transformation was somewhat of a production line. First to dress youself in the undergarments. Then your face is cleaned, and the white paint put over your face and neck. Then the eyes are made up, and finally the lips.
Then it is down to choose a kimono. They were all so beautiful that it was really difficult to decide, but i chose a black one with a red flower design. Then to be fitted takes quite some effort with all the many layers. Over the under garments goes a skirt, then there is a thing over your shoulders which it to keep the kimono down from your neck so that you can show it off, aparently the neck is a very sexy part of the body. Then the kimono goes on. Its tied so that the length is good, then the obi goes on and around and around, then the bow is placed over at the back. Then to finish off a silk cord. This is all comfortable enough, providing you didnt breath in while they were fitting it, it wasnt too tight. BUt the wig is a different matter. to keep its shape it is a wire frame, and it is heavy. but far less effort, i guess, then have your hair styled, especially as apparently many geisha go bald in their old age because of the hair styles, not an attractive look!
Through to the studio, and everyone poses in the same 6 ways, then for a final 7th photo, if you buy the cd, you can chose what to pose with, i went for a fan. the actual shoot took about 5 minutes i reckon. then we had the chance to go outside and take our own photos for 10minutes. it was lucky that me and rachel met because otherwise neither of us would have had someone to take photos at this stage. Eventually we needed to get the wigs off so we went back inside. Transforming back to our original state took far less time, the wig just pops off and the kimono is easily undone. The only hard part was to remove all the make up, but baby oil worked very well for that, and again it was lucky to have rachel there so she could take it off my back and visa versa.
From the studio we went and caught the bus downtown so that Rachel could have her meal at the Ryokon she had checked herself into for a change. I opted to wander around the mall and found an alice in wonderland themed place which served rice omlettes, something i was yet to try. i went for the set which included soup, bread roll loaded with some much butter that if i hadnt taken some off i would have had a heart attack right there, and then drink and dessert.
After our seperate meals, i met with rachel again and we returned to Gion. her ryokon had reserved us 2 tickets for the show at gion corner. IT was quite expensive but worth the price to experience all that we did. First we saw a tea ceremony being performed, followed by shamisen being played and some flower arranging. Then we had a man dancing in costume with a small orchestra. Then we had a comic play where the story was that the man didnt want his two servants to steal his sake while he was gone so he tricked them and tied them up. but this didnt stop them and they worked together to pour each other the sake. the man returns home and the servents are drunk. then we saw some traditional geish dancing which was very relaxing, not quite as dramatic as in memoirs of a geisha but just as cool. After this the final performance was puppet theatre which was really impressive, 3 men dressed head to tow in black operated the woman puppet, and made her move as if you would forget that they are there.
After the show finished we went upstairs to sit and have our own tea ceremony. the woman taught us all the ettiquette of the tea ceremony, It is quite important as so where the instruments are placed when you are not using them and washing the bowl etc. But what i found most interesting was the importance of the way that the bowl faced depending on the time of year. as we are in spring the side with the cherry blossoms is most important. that should be the side facing you while you make the tea, and the side to point to your guest as you give it to them, but then when they drink it that side must face away from them. It was all rather pleasent and dignified, and if i could buy the instruments in england i would consider myself, hosting a ceremony.
From here we decided to have a couple of drinks and so after wandering around ashort time we found an izakiya. Though the man wasnt too happy about us only ordering drinks! but we were both full from our dinners so we couldnt manage any food. After this we went our seperate ways, rachel to her ryokon and then to tokyo in the morning, me back to the hostel, just catching the last bus!!!