Wearing a Kimono and Making Etegami for Free!
What's the point of experiencing Japan without wearing a kimono? Of course, doing this is one of the cream of the crop itineraries in the land of the rising sun. It can be hard if you do it yourself and can be expensive if you buy one or even rent for only a day. Most touristy activities will really cost you a lot, but there is a way where you don't have to spend anything at all.
By attending Culture Day! 😀
Culture Day is a special project by Sapporo International Communication Plaza (SICP) in Sapporo, Hokkaido, held on special occasions and seasons intended especially for tourists to experience Japanese culture---for free. Locals can attend too and have a chance to meet foreign friends and share the fun together. The popular activities in Culture Day include wearing a kimono, tea ceremony, origami-folding, creating your own etegami (picture letters), and many others.
I was lucky enough to be able to join one of their events last November. I went there with my friend, Kaitlyn, and we met some fellow attendees who were from Russia, Taiwan, and some locals, too.
|Kaitlyn and me 💜|
Wearing the kimono
For the first time ever, I was able to wear a legit Japanese kimono! We were asked to go there in this particular room where a bunch of obachans (elderly ladies) sat on every corner to assist us in wearing the traditional costumes. There were several colorful kimono placed on a long table for us to choose from. I often wore dark-colored and bluish-toned yukata (summer version 'kimono') so this time I picked a bright happy color---melon orange and yellow-green. I was very happy because it suited me well.
I never imagined how difficult it was to wear it on our own! We really needed help in putting the wardrobe altogether. The lovely lady assistant was really nice to me and we chatted and laughed together as if she was my grandma.
After wearing the costume and going vain over our selfies, we were escorted to the main hall to begin our painting activity. We were given several albums of etegami references to choose from and make our own version of the cards.
So what is etegami? It means 'picture letter', from the Japanese "e" picture and "tegami" letter. They are postcard-sized paintings inspired by daily life, drawn with the use of traditional brushes and black ink, and then painted with Japanese watercolor. Most images drawn are fruits, vegetables, flowers, and animals such as koi, cats, rabbits, and birds.
|The instructors told us to choose two model postcards from their etegami album collection and copy them.|
I chose two designs from the album and here's what I made!
Origami is one of the most popular hobbies in Japan, but we often think it is a pastime only for kids---it's not! People of all ages can have a good time in Japanese paper-folding.
For today, I made a cute Pikachu and kimono origami!
After two hours of fun, the activity has ended. I really had a great time. It may be short, but it gave me a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture.
Culture Day is held several times a year, usually going along with special holidays and seasons. For more information, please visit Sapporo International Communication Plaza on Facebook.
Sapporo International Communication Plaza
Address: 〒060-0001 Hokkaido, Sapporo, Chuo Ward, Kita 1 Jonishi, 3 Chome, 札幌MNビル3階
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/aJwnJ9yXEBi4cvxC8