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While I was wearing a black Yukata (summer Kimono) I was stopped by a policeman in the streets of Tokyo. Why? To enliven his curiosity. After all, it’s not everyday that you see a Gaijin wearing a Yukata in Japan, right? Here is my adventure of the day.
In this Saturday, July 23, 2011 I have to go to work at leafcup Shibuya. For those who follow me since the beginning of my adventures in Japan, you should know that I work as a Chat Host at Leacfcup Tokyo. I welcome the Japanese and we talk about everything and nothing in English, in an atmosphere more or less relaxed.
But today is a special day. It is a Saturday, and said Saturday that is the Leafcup International Party day. And yes, every Saturday, Leafcup organizes parties where foreigners and Japanese get together and enjoy the opportunity to meet and exchange. Today in the party will held at Leafcup Shibuya. And the theme is: Yukata Party. Clearly, everyone should at least try to wear a Yukata (summer Kimono) to have a nice ambience. This is an opportunity for me to try something uniquely Japanese.
Let’s go to Asakusa – Tokyo to buy my Yukata:
Who said Yukata Party, said wearing a Yukata. I do not have one, which is, actually, normal. This is why I went to Asakusa (North-East of Tokyo) to buy one.
After I got around all the shops of Asakusa, I could not make my choice. Stores only offer Yukata for tourists, very often of poor quality at prices that I find high for a “Made inChina” product (around 5000 Yen – About 50 USD). But by persevering I could find something that suits me.
My choice stops on a simple color Black Yukata and on which is written Samurai, on the back. Why this choice? Am I a Samurai? No, but it was the only one which had a unique color (I do not like too colourful clothes) and simple design. I also have got te accessories that go with (a white and black belt and a pair or wooden sandals). Result, I ended up paying 12,000 Yen for my yukata (about 120 USD), which is well above the budget I had allocated to this purchase. But it was the day before the party, so I had no more choice and no more time. That will teach me to go about it at the last minute.
Now I have to find out how to wear it.
How do you wear a Yukata?
Having a Yukata at home is good, but knowing how to wear it is better. So when I got home, I turned to one of my roommates and asked him if he knew how to wear a Yukata, and his answer surprised me: “No I do not know, I’m sorry, I am ashamed, I am Japanese and I do not even know how to wear a Yukata or Kimono”. Wow, when I looked at him I saw in his eyes that he really felt ashamed; he was not exaggerating his comments.
On Saturday, I woke up at 10:00 (yes I know it’s late, but I was tired). After a good breakfast and a refreshing shower with this warm weather and this humidity, I decided to try to wear my Japanese Yukata by myself. But how should I do?
Phew, there is some drawings with the Yukata, showing how to do. Let’s start. So I put the Yukata on (so far so good), then I close the right side first (I’m doing not too bad) and then the left side (I started taking the hand). Ah, now it’s the turn of the belt. I take it in my hand and then I realize that I may have a problem: it’s a huge one.
I look at the drawing and I realize that I must get several turn around my waist with belt before knotting. For the turn around I am doing pretty wall. To tie it it’s another story. After 5 attempts and no less than 30 minutes I could tie a knot that looks almost like something good…
I put my wooden sandals on and now let’s go to Leafcup Shibuya.
On the streets of Tokyo wearing a Yukata, or how to be questioned by a police officer:
I go out into the streets and I walk at a pace slower than usual. It’s not that easy to walk with those Japanese traditional sandals.
After 20 minutes I arrived at Ueno station. There at a red light, and like a good citizen, I stopped when the little man was red. I waited patiently when I felt a hand touch on my shoulder. I turned around and there I saw a policeman, in his fifties, looking at me. A discussion ensued between us, in Japanese (for me) and English (for him) that was totally broken. I suggest you to read what we said to each other (in brackets are the passages that I wanted to tell him but I didn’t by respect ….). And you need to know that he was just staring at me and was watching carefully every details of my Yukata, throughout the conversation.
The Policeman: Hello
The Gaijin wearing a Yukata (me): Hello
The Policeman: Are you okay?
The Gaijin wearing a Yukata (me): Yes and you?
The Policeman: Yes. Are you a foreigner?
The Gaijin wearing a Yukata (me): (You don’t see it? I am Japanese!!!) Yes
The Policeman: Where are you from?
The Gaijin wearing a Yukata (me): I am from France (and you?)
The Policeman: What are you doing here?
The Gaijin wearing a Yukata (me): (uh I’m waiting for the little man to turn green) I’m going to a party
The Policeman: What are you doing inJapan?
The Gaijin wearing a Yukata (me): I travel
The Policeman: How long have you been inJapan?
The Gaijin wearing a Yukata (me): From 3 months (do you have a lot of questions like that?)
The Policeman: How long will you stay inJapan?
The Gaijin wearing a Yukata (me): For a year (it would be nice if you could stop staring at me in this way, it scares me).
The Policeman: And what do you do?
The Gaijin wearing a Yukata (me): I work, I am a French Teacher
The Policeman: Why do you wear a Yukata?
The Gaijin wearing a Yukata (me): (I had no clean clothes so I took what I had come to my hand) I’m going to a party
The Policeman: But why do you wear Japanese clothes?
The Gaijin wearing a Yukata (me): (Did I ask you why do you wear western clothes?) Because it’s a theme party.
The Policeman: Did you put on the Yukata by yourself?
The Gaijin wearing a Yukata (me): (Yes of course I’m a big boy, my mum taught me how to dress up) Yes
The Policeman: You wear it well
The Gaijin wearing a Yukata (me): Thank you (Can I go because the little man is green and he may become red soon).
It’s weird, because through the conversation his eyes made me clearly understand that wearing a Yukata was not normal for me. It became a little annoying to strength. Besides a lot of people passing by looked at me and smiled at me when I met them (when I think that usually no one spoke or looked at me, now I’m a real attraction).
Well it’s not all, but I have to go to work. Let’s keep going to Leafcup Shibuya.
Leafcup Yukata International Party in Shibuya:
I came at Leafcup at 14:30. I start work at 15:00. I am the only one wearing a Yukata. Do I have the wrong day? No, phew I am reassured. Ok; here I go. It is 15:00. I sat at my table and the conversation with the Japanese started immediately on the Yukata I was wearing (eh, something I would not have expected).
After spending 4 hours talking about everything and nothing, my workday was over. Now it’s time to start the Yukata Party. Finally, there are more people wearing a Yukata. I’m not alone anymore.
Wow, this is amazing, I’d say about 60 people are present and that much of them wear a Yukata (especially girls… oh this boys!!!). And I must admit that the girls are very pretty in this Japanese traditional dressing.
I took this opportunity to make some photos, make new friends and have a good time. And it was already 23:00. The Party went very quickly. Wearing a Yukata is very nice and I enjoyed it. Now it is time to clean up (and yes I am still working… I am inJapanafter all, right?).
Well after a good night, it is customary to have a drink together in Japan. Just enough time to take some group photos and then we go. We go toward Shibuya station to find an Izakaya.
Oops I missed my last train what to do?
We were more than a dozen people, girls and boys, Japanese and foreigners (Gaijin). I felt a bit old when everyone said his age (between 19 and 25…. Oops I’m 27). Anyway I am here to enjoy and have fun.
Oh it’s already 00:20. It’s time to leave for me. I must go to the station or I will miss my last train. Oh no, I am still wearing those famous Japanese Sandals … I managed to reach the station. But unfortunately I missed the last train. What to do now?
After a brief consideration, I decided to go to a Manga Kissa (and yes I will spend another night at a Manga Kissa in Tokyo). I paid 1500 Yen (about 15 USD) which is better than taking a taxi. I grabbed a hot drink, a cup of chocolate ice cream and make it to my cubicle. I spent the night watching videos on internet. I couldn’t sleep at all.
It is 05:00,Tokyois waking up. I gave back the card of my cubicle and made my way to the train station. I took the first train to Ueno. Some Japanese people, who spent the night drinking, greet me and stares at me all along the way. It is almost 06:00when I got home.
I undressed and went directly to the shower. Well now it’s time to sleep with this warm and humid weather. Have a good night everyone (oops, a good day).