Tag Archive | Kyoto

Himeji Castle: One of Japan’s most Exotic Castles

Japan is an exotic country with a lot beautiful buildings, temples, and castles. While we were in Kyoto, Japan, we were determined to visit at least one Japanese castle. We eventually decided to ride the train to a small city called Himeji, which is located in the Kansai region of Japan. It was time to visit the largest, most popular, and best preserved castle in all of Japan!

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This is Himeji Castle. It is also referred to as Hakuro-jō (“White Egret Castle”) or Shirasagi-jō (“White Heron Castle”) because the castle’s white exterior design supposedly resembles a bird taking flight.

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The Himeji Castle, is one of the three premier castles in all of Japan. In fact, Himeji Castle, is regarded as an excellent example of Japanese castle architecture. It was also named as one of the first UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Japan.

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I found the white exterior of the castle beautiful. The castle complex was fairly large, so we spent a few hours exploring both the outdoor walkways and interior. At the top floor of the castle, we found this small shrine. The views from the top of the castle were also very spectacular!

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If you have time for only one castle while in Japan, I would definitely recommend the Himeji Castle. It is simply beautiful!

How I Became a Geisha in Kyoto, Japan

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While we were strolling the streets of Gion, the most famous Geisha district in Kyoto, we luckily came across a Geisha parade. All the Geishas were dressed in beautifully ornate kimonos, and were walking gracefully in their high wooden sandals. Later that day we watched an entertaining show in which Geishas performed tea ceremonies, flower arrangements, and played musical instruments while singing.

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A Geisha, is a woman who is well-rehearsed in the arts of conversation, dance, and music. They are artisans who serve to entertain men. It takes a lot of training, hard work, and patience in order to learn and develop the skills required for becoming a Geisha. Before traveling to Japan, I promised myself that I would dress-up like a Geisha in Kyoto. I thought it would be pretty neat to walk in the shoes of a Geisha for a few hours.

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I never before had so much makeup put on my face and neck! The makeup included: layers of white power, red-pinkish lipstick, black around the eyes, and black and red accents on the eyebrows. After completing the makeup, a wig decorated with colorful flowers was placed on my head. The wig was very heavy. I was surprised by how a Geisha managed to wear such a heavy wig for hours. Next, I was told to wear a red and white patterned under-kimono, underneath the more elaborate pink kimono. My assistants tied the kimono together with a large intricate waist belt called an obi. At last, I wore special socks called tabi, and large wooden platform sandals known as okobo. When I wore the wooden sandals, I was shocked by how difficult it was me to move at all. The okobo like the wig were very heavy and uncomfortable. It took my assistants 2 hours to dress me up as a Geisha!

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After dressing up I walked over a bridge and down the streets of Kyoto to a park. My two assistants literally had to hold both my arms during the entire walk. Despite the struggles with walking, it was an extremely fun and memorable experience. I felt like I was a completely different person, in an entirely different world.