Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Things Just Got Really Japanese

And things also got really good.

My mother often reminds me of a time we were walking around a department store when I was about 7. We passed a glamorous pink dress and I asked if I could try it on. She agreed, but reminded me that we were not going to buy it.
I walked out of the dressing room and I was the most stunning 7 year old to ever stand in front of that Kaufmann's mirror.
She looked at the price tag again and suggested it was time to say goodbye to the dress. Naturally, I was devastated and cried for the hours that followed.

Now that I am almost 24 I kind of understand that I cannot have all the dresses I want. This does not mean I want those dresses any less.

Last month, I went to my first Japanese tea ceremony. I stared enviously at all those women scurrying across the tatami in their kimonos.
I tried to spark a, seemingly casual, kimono conversation, "So, Kocho-Sensei, do you have a kimono? Do most Japanese women have a kimono? Why are you not wearing your kimono tonight?"

"Hai, hai. Maybe sometime you can try kimono, Caity Sensei."
"Oh ... whatever...."
At that moment I decided that all I wanted out of Japan was a kimono. So long as I fly out of this country with a kimono in my bag.

This month, I walk into the community center and I am chased behind a curtain to put on a kimono for the ceremony.

If I had known I was going to have a kimono to wear I would have washed my hair, put on some lip gloss, and brought my camera (there is obviously the camera phone option, which I used in this case).

But, I still felt like the most stunning white girl to glide across that tatmai.

Japanese tea ceremony is a dance. Every movement is choreographed. And while watching others dance you must wait, in pain, sitting seiza (on ones knees with a straight back). As the layers to kimonos consist of hard blocks secured tightly with ribbons and rope, forcing one to inhale dramatically when being tied in, there is no room to slouch.

The tea ceremony ended. Kocho-Sensei took me downstairs to show off the white girl dressed up in a kimono to a bunch of drunk Japanese men; which was, of course, both awkward and hilarious.

I knew I would have to take off the kimono and return it, as I did the pink, department store, dress.

As I was being undressed by old Japanese women they said, "gift to you."
"No, no, I cannot."
"Yes, she has many kimono."
"No, too expensive, I cannot."
"Yes, please, gift."

This woman simply gave me one of her many kimono's.

I put my nose to the floor as I bowed in thanks.

What the hell do I give to someone who has given me a kimono ... a car?
Too bad I did not know about this gesture of kindness this previous weekend.
I would have bought her a huge piece of pottery from Naruto's Sunday afternoon pottery festival.

The next month of my life will consist of a search for a piece of ceramic art that can be used during a tea ceremony.

Meanwhile, I will be sleeping with and touching my kimono.

"This dance is difficult, this dance is hard, it makes me want to spin around in my yard." -Mirah.

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