FlashBack Friday – me… wear a kimono?? no way.

December 2005: CableDad and I were living in Toronto and my brother was in Tokyo with his soon to be fiance.  It had been at least a year since my brother moved from New York and therefore out of my range for frequent visitations, something about which I was severely bummed.  I went from speaking to my BigBro on a weekly basis and seeing him once a month to not being able to afford a phone call.

And then we got the offer of a lifetime.  My father and brother offered to team up on a Christmas present for the Cable Clan and bought us a pair of tickets from Toronto to Tokyo.  Booya!  There ain’t never been a gift like that!

It was a trip unlike any other I’ve taken and I’ll talk about different aspects of it for later FlashBack Fridays.  Today I want to talk about New Year’s Day in Kiryu, my soon-to-be-SIL’s home town.

I should mention, however, that when I first got to Japan my hair was bright purple.  Actually, my Cre8Buzz profile picture as well as my blog profile picture are from a late morning trip to the gardens at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. My brother very respectfully (that is if by respectfully I mean “My God, what have you done??!!”) asked me to dye my hair black before meeting the family of the woman whom he wised to make his wife.  I complied.  I wouldn’t have had it been anyone but him.

The intention was to spend Christmas around Tokyo before heading out to the prefecture to the north west where we’d soak up some time at a traditional ryokan then head off to meet SIL’s family.  We were due to arrive in Kiryu by the 30th of December.

(Just as a side note, I’d like to add that yes, they do celebrate Christmas in Japan, but not in any way like in America.  It’s hard to explain, but I tell you there is nothing in the world like listening to a tune, knowing it very well and then realizing that you’re listening to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer in Japanese.)

I was warned well in advance that we were to participate in a tea ceremony on New Year’s Day at the house of SIL’s grandparents.  Loving and dutiful sister I am, I boned up on my Japanese so that I could greet SIL’s grandparents with the proper respect thereby honoring my brother.  There are very few phrases in Japanese that I actually remember, but should you ever need to tell someone that you do not speak Japanese say this: Gomen nasai.  Nihongo ga hanasemasen.

When I woke up on New Year’s Day my first conversation of the day went something like this:

me: SIL, when are we going over to your grandparents’ house?

SIL: when we go for tea.

me: ok, when will that be? (silly me, I was thinking there was a “tea time” like in Britain and Ireland.)

SIL: When grandmother is ready.

me: ok.  I get that.  What will the ceremony be like?

SIL: we will have tea.

me: yeah, I kind of got that, you know what with the whole “tea ceremony” thing.  Do I need to know anything in particular.

SIL: my cousins and I will prepare the tea.

me: great! (feeling like I was getting somewhere at last) what’s that like?

SIL: it’s like a tea ceremony.

me: yeah, I deserved that.  Should I start getting ready now?

SIL: if you want.

me: when will we be leaving?

SIL: when my uncle comes to get us.

me: right.  soon?  this afternoon?  tonight? (looking at BigBro for help as he sat in the corner with CableDad snickering)

SIL: when grandmother is ready.

me: right.  I give up.  I’m going to go have a bath and get dressed.  Does it matter what I wear?

SIL: You  probably shouldn’t wear jeans.

me: (said to myself) AH HA!  a straight answer!

Two things before I continue: 1) The above pseudo-transcript is HIGHLY abbreviated.  2) SIL was not just fucking with me.  It’s just incredibly difficult to get straight answers out of her.

At that point I went to bathe and get dressed in a pair of corduroy pants and a sweater.  Have I mentioned that I’m not girlie at all? Have I mentioned recently how much I hate pink?  I mean, seriously, have you ever seen me post a pic of MJ in pink clothing?  I’ve ranted about my issue with pink clothing here.

Couldn’t be more than 10 minutes later I was shanghaied (yes, I realize I was in Japan, not China and that I was not being forced into hard labor on an American merchant ship) by SIL and her mother.  Before I knew what was happening I was stripped down and wrapped about 50 tons of fabric.  Pink fabric. With little pink flowers.

This is myself and my SIL posing for one of about 10,000 photos taken by her uncle while at the tea ceremony.

Myself,  SIL and BigBro walking out of SIL’s grandmother’s house back to the car.  I will pretend that BigBro is not laughing at me attempting to walk in sandals.

Let me tell you, I have an incredible amount of respect for any woman who can wear a kimono and do anything else. I now know why chairs are not part of common furniture.  It’s impossible to sit properly in a kimono.  I now know why it is considered proper to take very small steps.  It is impossible to take anything like normal strides while wearing a kimono.  And don’t even get me started on trying to walk across cobbles with the platform sandals…

Want to play along? FlashBack Friday posts can be any medium you choose, photographic, video, music, or just a story. Share your flashback on Fridays and link back to me. Visit other participants and get some dirt on your fellow bloggers.

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~ by CableGirl on Friday, April 11, 2008.

19 Responses to “FlashBack Friday – me… wear a kimono?? no way.”

  1. You must really love your bro to have gotten into that get up! Wasn’t there something between jeans and kimono?

  2. Oh, how sweet you look! I, too, am snickering, just a little. I used to think I would like to go to Japan, but then I read Japanland and this post and thought, nope, not me. I don’t do pink either, and I have a hard enough time walking in my boots, much less in sandals and a very constricting dress!

  3. Wow, that definitely is quite an opportunity. You look really beautiful in the pictures.

    Blog hopping by…

  4. You looked lovely… pink and all. What a sweet gesture by you to do all that to impress your future SIL and her family. Says a lot about you as a sister and as a person. Nicely done.

  5. Heh, you look like you’re having SOOO much fun there! Still, awesome experience, and you do look very pretty despite the pink (I hate it too).

  6. There’s no way I could’ve gotten out of that coversation without being sarcastic.

  7. Lookit how cute you are! All pinky pink pink! (I love pink, but I think that’s a natural response to being unable to wear it for most of my life).

    It really is a beautiful kimono though. And my understanding of Japanese culture, although limited, makes me think your willingness to participate probably went pretty far to reassure your SILs family that your brother was a good guy.

  8. You looks awesome in the pink kimono. I’ve always wanted one, like the robe Carrie wore in the first few seasons of SATC. I’m just not thin enough to pull it off. 😦

  9. Funny, while on vacation I had a conversation about kimonos.

  10. What a hilarious conversation! I’ve heard that in order to be polite Japan will often say “yes, but…” instead of “no.”

    Seems like you did a great job of “doing as the Romans do,” though. You look poised, graceful and lovely in that kimono (despite what you are probably thinking to yourself in those photos.)

    psst, to Maria, I love Carrie’s robe in SATC, too!

  11. You’re a really great sister and SIL!

  12. It may have been a pain but, gotta tell you, you look pretty great in a kimono.

  13. I lived in Tokyo for two years and know the ‘indirect response’ well. My husband often wishes I would have learned it because God knows, I tend to ‘tell it like it is’ way too often. Fun Post!

  14. Wow, talk about culture clash!

    Do you think those backpack leases come in duck? P loves ducks. And we’ll be flying out to Colorado—I know he won’t do a stroller the whole time this time! It was hard enough to keep him in one place last time! Wow, it’s already been 2 years! 😐

  15. this was a very interesting post..have heard a lot about the tea ceremonies.

  16. Way to rock the kimono. I’ve always wondered what wearing one is like.

  17. Wow, love the story and the photos… I would have been flat on my face in the cobblestones if I even tried to wear a kimono and the sandals… which would have impressed family to no end, I am sure. I applaud you for keeping upright.

    Maureen
    Blog Hoppin’

  18. Thanks for sharing! That was really cool to see/hear.

  19. Awesome flashback, and the photos are the best!

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