Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sig and Bibi's magical adventure in Imai-cho

Today being pretty much our only day off during the week, Sig and I decided to go to Imai-cho, an Edo period town that is well preserved. It is off the beaten path and not very touristy. Bu it was amazing! I think the fact that it was raining worked in our favor because there were no people around and it gave it a bit of mystery. There are about ten houses that are open to the public. The "Edo style" contains design elements including shoji doors, engawas, and tatami mats. These houses were so beautiful...the simple elegance was very inspirational. We walked into this one house and were suddenly surrounded by a bunch of old Japanese ladies asking if we wanted to dress up in kimonos (granted, their English was very limited, so our communication was mostly head nodding and "hai's"). We were ushered behind some shoji doors where they proceeded to undress us and wrap us in the many layers of the kimono dress. Then they did our hair, which I think was very consisted a little top knot tied in a bow with a ponytail! We then had a mini photo shoot in front of a hung kimono. They printed out a bunch of pictures on the spot for us to take home. The ladies (and a few men) are part of the preservation/restoration committee in Imai-cho. I asked if this was something that they do every weekend, but I guess it was a pre-festivity for a holiday in May. These people were so gracious and hospitable. I can't help but think that they were enjoying dressing us up like little dolls :P This cute old man directed us to this wonderful soba noodle house down the street. Again, this was in a restored Edo house. We sat on tatami mats in front of a traditional hearth. The husband and wife that ran the restaurant were so kind. The man asked us if we wanted our picture taken, and then returned five minutes later with some printed for us!! I was beginning to think that the townspeople never see young American girls and were enjoying every second of it. They even gave us some Japanese pastries for the road. "For your service" is what they kept saying :)
I kept thinking "this is so surreal!" Imai-cho is such a magical place, so picture perfect. And what truely beautiful people! I know that today will forever be wonderful memory of my trip to Japan.

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