I was invited to enjoy Amanohashidate Kimono Night and Tango Kimono Matsuri by the Kyoto by the Sea DMO. I took with me three other women who love kimono from other countries. We all felt excited in the days before the trip. For the other three members it was the first time to go to Amanohashidate. The weather on the way was not great, not the lovely clear sunny days I associate with autumn in Japan, but I suppose that this cloudy and rainy weather is the new normal. Our spirits were not dampened by the weather though, and the closer we got, the more excited we became. I like to look out for deer on the train from Kyoto to Amanohashidate, and I was rewarded with one sighting.
Our first experience was to put on the Tango rental kimono. Each kimono is an artisan produced work of high quality. I don’t often wear formal kimono, and it felt different from my everyday kimono. The sleeves were longer and the fabric was very soft and luxurious. I wore a pale purple iro muji with a design of pine needles woven into it. I chose this one as it seemed appropriate for Amanohashidate. The sand bar is covered in pine trees. We had to go to the location of the event after dressing, but it was raining, so we we stepped carefully to avoid the puddles.
We went to an attractive restaurant near the dock where our boat would set out. Tango silks were hung from the ceiling in one area, and the colours shone brightly in the lights.
As we boarded the boat we were given a glass of sparkling wine and then we left the harbour. Night fell as we were on board, and part way through it stopped raining and we went up on deck. A loan saxophone played and we could enjoy the music and the sea breeze, and look at the lights far away along the shore. I felt a bit as though I was in a dream world.
A buffet dinner of carefully prepared local dishes was attractively served on square white washi paper plates, attractive to view as well as to taste. In my short talk show I spoke about my love of kimono and how it is a wonderful fashion item, and also about the lovely harmony that I could feel in Tango between nature and the people who work and live in the area, and how I loved that it was not controlled by huge machines in factories as I had seen in other places.
Since my previous trip, I had wanted to walk across Amanohashidate, but I knew there was no time for that in the schedule. I set my alarm clock for 6am, and tried to change in to my kimono quietly. There is something lovely about the early morning light, and the way it slants sideways through the pine trees. There were a few walkers and runners, but mainly I could walk alone, sea on both sides, enjoying the smell of the pines and the moss on their old and twisted trunks. It was a refreshing way to start the morning.
After breakfast we walked around the town of Amanohashidate, enjoying taking photographs. Every view was enhanced by the fact that the town was full of people wearing kimono. We watched the parade, met the kimono Queens and we participated in the stamp rally. People were enjoying fashion shows, kitsuke lessons, and taiko drumming. I thought how lovely it was that everyone was smiling and seemed happy. It was all thanks to being joined together by kimono. It was a privilege to take part in such a beautiful event.