In September/October, I got an envelope in the mail.
I was surprised since it was from within Japan, and because I live with a man, all the bills and other mail is adressed in his name, but this one had my name on it!
Upon opening it I saw that I had been invited to participate in the Coming of Age Ceremony of January 2011 (Seijin Shiki)!
In November/December, I found out a friend of mine had just received her invitation, and we decided to go all out in the kimono madness that is Seijin Shiki!
It's a costly experience, depending how you do it.
It is possible to buy Second Hand Furisode(the special type of Kimono), but usually they are quite outdated, and sometimes have faults. We went for the renting option.
Renting a furisode
We found a pop-up shop in Marui City Ikebukuro, during the Furisode season a kimono rental shop had opened a pop up shop to fulfill the needs of everyone who needed a Furisode for the upcoming festivities.
They charged 50 000yen for a piece set. It included the furisode, obi, obi accessories, under-kimono, tabi socks, zouri shoes, bag, and a buckload of different small goods that you need in order to assemble a kimono.
The staff was awesome, and we got to pick out all the kimonos we liked, and then try them on to see wich one was the best.
Making the arrangements
Putting on a kimono is a special thing.
Unless you have someone in your vicinity that is a 60something old japanese woman (or someone else who just happened to have the interest in learning), you'll need to go pro.
Around December/January you'll see many saloons sporting fliers/posters about special Seijin Shiki deals.
They usually include hair, makeup and the dressing(kitsuke). It too, is costly. Most places charges around 20 000 and up, but we managed to find a really nice place in Koenji who charged us 13 000yen.
Keep in mind that even though they say one price, it will be a bit more, adding in early morning charges, since most saloons open at 10ish and you'll probably wind up being there around 7, as we did.
I recommend checking out Hot Pepper for scoring out sweet deals.
At this point, please remember to buy a matching kamikazari(not to be confused with kamikaze), i.e the hair flowers/stuff you want to have in your hair.
Now is also the time to choose your venue. Wich Seijin Shiki will you attend?
My friend Ylva lives in Nakano-ku, I live in Toshima-ku. We're both warm about our "hometowns" but in order to not make anyone feel bad about it we decided to go to Shinjuku-kus, since we both attend school there. It is possible, but please remember to check the towns website about details, some towns don't accept people who don't live there. You also must register on the towns website.
So the day has arrived, the day of the kimono frenzy!
.. No. Or well, yes. I had to wake up at six, heading right out in the cold with only sunglasses to cover my unfixed face, and get to the saloon.
Well there they hectically started fixing me up, make up, hair and so on. The details was decided a couple of days earlier when we went for counseling. The hair/makeup part isn't the most interesting one since it's something one could do on any other day.
The kitsuke part though. Oh man! I walk into a draped area where a tiny girl is, and alas, she's the one to dress me.
So it's just to undress into my highly unflattering underwear(tanktop without bra, and tigh long leggings), and the funky stuff begins.
This small girl, a head shorter than myself, and probably half my weight, proves to contain some serious strenght, as she in a series of hugs, chokes and twists starts assembling the kimono.
First comes a strange hospital-robe-ish top, and an apron, some bands and some cotton and some gauze, then comes the under kimono, some more bands, towels, gauze etc. Finally, the furisode itself, more gauze, more bands.
Then the really evil part. The obi. oh. It's violent I tell ya.
Not really being used to being dressed, nor kimonos for that matter it came as a complete shock when she started to violently tug away at the bands and strands and effectivly push all air out from me.
After the rather strange experience I get to see myself, and not to sound boasting, but I looked amazing! Kimono + professional make and hair makes wonders, haha!
Out and about
Well out, we quickly realize that the day isn't the best. It's really windy and despite what you might think, kimonos are COLD. So so so cold. And they have openings under your arms and at your elbows so the wind just goes right through!
Usually Seijin no Hi is a day were old schoolmates meet again and get drunk in kimonos, but seeing that we aren't natives, we couldn't just bash a reunion like that, haha.
So instead we made our own version. We did go to Meiji Jingu in Harajuku to toss some coins, pray a bit, and get wildly photographed. (Foreigner in kimono = the old people just go crrazy, be prepared, people WILL want to take pictures, and they mostly wont ask first.). Afterwards we did some housecalls (going to people we wanted to show off for, haha), and then Izakaya. But, being as handicapped as we were by the blistering feet (Zouri is painful), unableness to breath, the cold and the general fatigue, we ended the day early and got home.
Believe me, taking of a kimono is one of the best things in the world. You feel 10kgs lighter!
Most rental stores wants you to send it back the next day, atleast did ours.
So after waking up, it was just to try and fold the kimono neatly (you got a picture guide!) and then send it back. It cost 1400yen, and had to be done at Family Mart.
When reading the return-guide I found out I got to keep some of the stuff, like the tabi socks, the bands, some strange obi-pillow etc.
Feel free to ask them!