Nagoya, Japan SIP

It’s been more than half a year since returning from the Summer International Program in Nagoya, Japan, but I still remember vividly so many of the wonderful experiences I had. One of my favorites is the kimono workshop Nagoya Gakuin University put together for us. One of the local student’s family ran a kimono shop, and they were kind enough to bring some yukata in for us to try, even helping us to put them on properly!

yukata 2

Even before leaving Canada, trying on a kimono/yukata (and maybe even buying one!) was towards the top of my to-do list for Japan, I mean, who hasn’t heard of a kimono before? A yukata is akin to a lightweight kimono, usually made out of a single layer of cotton and is much easier to wear than a kimono which has many different layers. Yukata are popular to wear during summer festivals since they are much more breathable. After arriving in Japan and seeing the prices, I knew that I would not be able to afford one, but I had hoped to at least be able to try one on and get a picture. When we arrived at the university and were given our program schedule, I was so excited to see that there would be a workshop towards the end of the program!

On the day of, we were separated into 2 rooms: one for the males and one for the females. As soon as we walked through the doors, we could see all of the yukata laid out on the desks, and we all scrambled to choose one. I was immediately drawn to a dark blue one that had a purple and pink obi (the belt). Obi can come either as just a cloth strip or pre-tied into a bow. All of the ones that were brought in for the workshop were pre-tied to make it easier to put on.

yukata 1

The ladies there helped us into our yukata (otherwise we would have been completely lost on how to put them on!) They had even brought geta (wooden sandals) for us to wear!

geta

After we finished dressing, we were given the choice whether we wanted to go to a nearby shrine while wearing the yukata. I, of course, said yes – I did not want to take the yukata off yet after finally being able to put one on! Geta are known for being hard and uncomfortable to walk in (you’re walking basically on a block of wood) so the university called several taxis to take us to the shrine.

Now, the shrine is definitely one of the things that makes this experience so memorable.

The taxis took us to the Atsuta Shrine where we took tons of pictures at the shrine entrance.

shrine 4

As we walked through the shrine grounds, we noticed there was quite a commotion around a certain tree. Tons of locals had their phones pointed upwards and were talking excitedly to one another.

tree 1

It took us a while to figure out what everyone was looking at, but then we saw it. Can’t figure it out? Take a closer look at the centre of the picture.

tree 2

Yes, that is a snake in the tree. From what we gathered from the locals, the snake can usually be found around the base of the tree, and we were very lucky to see it in the tree. I didn’t even know snakes went in trees.

Besides the snake, the shrine itself was beautiful, and we got the opportunity to take tons of pictures on the shrine grounds before taking the taxis back to the university.

shrine 3

All in all, I had a great yukata experience and I hope to get to buy one when I go back to Japan someday, hopefully soon.

~ Joyce Lok

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