The Japanese kimono is one of the world's instantly recognizable traditional garments. The word kimono literally means "clothing", and up until the mid 19th century, it was the form of dress worn by everyone in Japan. That began to change slowly with the import of suits dresses and other western fashions during the Meiji Era.
The Nishijin district located in the northwest of central Kyoto is the source of all those stunning kimono fabric and obi and is a great place to catch a kimono show or for a spot of kimono shopping. To fully immerse yourself in the culture of Kyoto, you can rent a kimono and take a pleasant stroll around the city’s old streets and historic areas.
Maiko and Geisha
Maiko and Geisha (Geiko in the local dialect) are highly skilled female entertainers who traditionally entertained guests at teahouses and traditional restaurants in Kyoto.
Geisha and Maiko have sometimes through the years been involved in some political issues, such as the Shinsengumi police and the famous samurai Ryoma Sakamoto in the late 19th century. Maiko and Geisha have played an important role in Japanese history, and even now, many Japanese politicians make use of a room at an Ochaya to discuss politics and business. This is because the Ochaya, its Maiko and Geisha, have all been highly trained to be discreet and tight-lipped whilst with their customers.
The way of tea - is one of Japan’s best known traditional cultural practices and something that everyone should experience in Kyoto. The tea ceremony grew out of the hospitality of Japanese noblemen of the Heian Period, who liked to serve tea to their high-ranking guests. Eventually, a whole new way to appreciate the beloved drink was born with its own unique set of rules and etiquette.
Today, the tea ceremony is practiced as a hobby, and there are places where tourists can experience it, as well. Tea ceremonies of varying degrees of formality and authenticity are offered by many organizations across Japan, including at some traditional gardens, culture centers and hotels.
Shodo, or calligraphy, is the art of writing Chinese characters (known as kanji) as well as the two Japanese syllabaries (known as kana) using brushes, ink, and paper. Calligraphy is the traditional culture which represents Japan and is known worldwide. The history of Japanese calligraphy is very long, and it has bloomed since the Asuka period (593-) when Chinese characters were introduced to Japan. In modern times, it is loved by men and women of all ages. The purpose of calligraphy is not only to write beautiful letters; it is one of the arts where one can express personality or uniqueness.
Nowadays people do not use Shodo for practical purposes, but it remains an important part of Japanese culture. People use Shodo on a number of ceremonial occasions, including the writing of New Year's greeting cards. But there are a number of places where you can try Japanese calligraphy.
Yuzen Dying is a traditional dying technique used to create the brilliantly colored and picturesque designs of Yuzen Kimono. The history of Yuzen Dyeing dates back to the Genroku Period (1688-1704), with local artist Miyazaki Yuzen creating this unique technique near Chion-in Temple. A few shops in Kyoto still carry out this tradition with the masters painstakingly working to create these masterpieces of fashion and art.