With the controversy over the model’s Vogue photos ongoing, has anyone bothered to check on how Japan feels?
The all-new Japanese-exclusive packages include limited-edition coloured chocolates that capture the spirit of Japan.
The range even includes a couple of sporty kimono.
Edo-period artwork gets the cute cat treatment in Japan.
In Kyoto, Pikachu wears a kimono with a Ho-Oh design and a Vivillion-adorned hair accessory.
If you want to become a geisha, maiko, samurai or courtesan, gender is no barrier at this Asakusa photo studio.
Sophistication and sass are not mutually exclusive.
If you’ve ever wanted to turn back time and step into the clothes of a well-dressed geisha, a pipe-smoking courtesan or a sword-wielding samurai warrior, we’ve found the perfect place for you!
They say that it’s rare to see a real maiko walking the streets of Kyoto, since these artists usually work at night and live in their own secluded world, far from the rest of Japanese society. In fact, if you spot a maiko strolling around Gion during the day, there’s a good chance she’s a tourist who’s undergone a fabulously elaborate makeover.
We took our Japan Wish competition winner Ashley to a studio in Kyoto’s Gion neighborhood to have a maiko-over and be transformed in an amazing process that yielded completely stunning results. Ashley was able to choose her own kimono and obi sash, and as part of the deal she was treated to a professional photography session and the opportunity to take a stroll around the streets of Gion in full maiko garb!
Just as with full-fledged geisha, it’s customary for maiko, as geisha apprentices are known, to wear a layer of white face powder, called oshiroi. But those who’ve seen one of Japan’s traditional entertainers close up often marvel at their smooth, healthy skin, remarking that they would be just as beautiful with all of those cosmetic coverings washed away.
But in much the same way that their polished speech and refined mannerisms are the result of years of training, maiko also have a careful routine they follow to keep their skin looking as delicate and pleasing to the eye as it does.
Your first trip to Japan is bound to be a whirlwind visit as you try to pack so many things into a short period of time. Do go to Tokyo and see the white-gloved train pushers, the famous Shibuya scramble crossing, and many of the scenes depicted in anime and manga. Do go to Kyoto and see the shrines and temples that are simply amazing.
But as a country that has so much to offer, it can take years to really get to know and understand Japan, even when you live here. So if you want to take your understanding of Japan a step further, we’re here to suggest a few things you’ll want to experience in order to better understand Japanese culture: things that give you insight on what’s behind the Japanese way of thinking.
These experiences will help you understand who the Japanese people are, and why they act the way they do. Get ready to move from tourist to cultural expert after the jump!
Kyoto now welcomes 50 million tourists a year who come to experience Japan’s traditional culture and architecture, plus catch a glimpse of the city’s famed geisha. But, as anyone who lives in a tourist hot spot knows, living there is not the same as a short visit.
As such, the following is a list of some of the things that Kyoto locals probably have the urge to remind tourists of from time to time, so allow us to shatter your illusions with some of the realities that come with living in Japan’s ancient capital.
‘Omotenashi’, the spirit of Japanese hospitality, became something of a buzzword at home and abroad when Christel Takigawa used the phrase in her speech to the International Olympic Committee in 2013.
And it’s in this spirit that Tokyo’s Narita airport plans to extend an especially warm welcome to international visitors this year, as it renews its Omotenashi Program of special offers and cultural events for transferring passengers.
In 1853, the rulers of Japan ended the country’s more than two centuries of isolation from the rest of the world. But while foreigners could now get into Japan for trade and commerce, it would take more than 10 years until Japanese citizens could leave the country, meaning that outside cultural influences were still slow to find their way into the half-opened nation.
As such, there’s a brief, time capsule-like period in which Japan’s culture was still almost entirely of indigenous origins, but foreign visitors had the technology to visually document it, as shown in these beautiful photographs of 19th century Japan.
Many neighborhoods in Japan have festivals during the summer, often centered around the local shrine. They generally include processions, musical performances, and Shinto rituals, with the festivities lasting a day, or maybe two if they stretch throughout the weekend.
Kyoto’s Gion district, though, does things on a grander scale. The Gion Matsuri (Gion Festival) starts on July 1 and runs for the entire month, with some sort of event happening almost every day. And while most non-residents can’t clear out enough of their schedule to sped a few solid weeks in Japan’s former capital, this beautiful video gives the highlights of the event.
If you were paying attention during history class, you’ll know all about wartime propaganda and the role it played in “motivating” people during the war effort. It seems like most countries involved got in on a piece of the propaganda action to some degree or other, with anti-Japanese propaganda being just one example.
But what do you think of this picture that has recently been uncovered showing two geisha holding their noses over a picture of former UK prime minister Winston Churchill? And what’s the joke behind it?
If asked which traditional Japanese arts are female-only, the first thing that comes to mind for most foreigners is probably geisha. Following that, most people might guess tea ceremony, ikebana (flower arrangement) or calligraphy. But tea ceremony and ikebana had connections to Buddhism and were started in Japan by Buddhist priests. Still today many masters in these two disciplines are men. Calligraphy was brought over from China and both men and women practiced by copying Chinese letters. Only later did Japan develop its own form of calligraphy which is still practiced today by both sexes.
In this article, we introduce five strictly female Japanese arts, a couple of which you may have never heard of before. In addition to everyone’s favorite, the geisha, we introduce the world’s only all-female revue, naginata swords for women, itako female fortune-tellers and the mysterious naked sea nymphs: the ama pearl divers.
Last month, we ran a story about the Ozashiki Cafe, a one day event that would offer a unique opportunity for the Japanese public to take a look into the usually exclusive world of geisha and the traditional Japanese restaurants known as ryotei, where they perform. Much to our delight, we received comments from readers encouraging us to sign up and attend the event, so that’s exactly what we decided to do! And we were quite excited to do so too, since the average person in Japan usually doesn’t have the chance to interact with professional geisha. So, here’s our report on what we experienced at the Ozashiki Cafe, which took place at the ryotei Miyakodori in the Asakusa district of Tokyo — and we have to say, it was quite a treat to be entertained by professional geisha, even it was for just one fleeting hour!
Have you ever fantasized about the world of geisha? Even for most of us Japanese, the beautifully made-up and richly adorned geisha is an object of fascination and mystery, simply because the world they live and entertain in is so exclusive. Since it’s quite rare for the average Japanese person to have the opportunity to be entertained by professional geisha, many of us don’t really have an idea of what goes on in the tea houses (ochaya) and traditional restaurants (ryotei) where geisha perform, which is why the ryotei Miyakodori has come up with a one-day event called the “Ozashiki Cafe” to offer us a glimpse into the hidden world of geisha!