Today I went to the Amanohashidate Kimono Festival – my first time at Amanohashidate since my arrival and also my first time at a kimono festival! All in all, I’d highly recommend it if you like pretty things.
So Amanohashidate is one of the first things I heard about when I discovered I’d be placed in Kyotango. It’s technically in the city of Miyazu, but that’s literally right next to Kyotango. Kyotango, however, is freakin’ huge so if I drove to Amanohashidate from my apartment it would take about an hour or so. Today, I drove to the house of the people that lent me a kimono before carpooling to Amanohashidate and the total driving time ended up being about an hour and fifteen minutes.
Anyways, back to Amanohashidate!
So the name Ama no Hashidate, roughly translates to Heaven Bridge. It is called this because it is said to appear to be a bridge between heaven and earth. It also happens to be one of the three most scenic spots in all of Japan – after visiting today, I can definitely say I concur! (Not really the fairest judgment, though, as I haven’t been to every scenic spot in Japan…or many, for that matter…)
It’s essentially just a really long sandbar covered in pines. It spans about 4km, roughly 2.5 miles! I’m looking forward to walking across the whole thing sometime soon. Today, however, that was not happening! Ever tried walking in zōri?
Okay, so mine weren’t quite as bad as these babies, but they were pretty damn close! I definitely think they’re worse than high heels, especially when your feet are a little bit big for them (like mine were) and you’re constantly booking it trying to keep up with the tiny old Japanese ladies you came with that are clearly ninjas in disguise who are on a mission to do all the things at the festival in record time (like I was). Yeah…my feet already hate me. Can’t imagine what tomorrow will be like!
Speaking of which, you may be thinking that picture below the Amanohashidate header is totally beautiful and that it’s totally awesome that I took it, right? Well, I’m sorry to inform you that that baby’s a product of my old friend Google images. I never actually went to any of the viewpoints of Amanohashidate (’cause, you know, zōri!). I did explore the sandbar a bit though!
The Kimono Festival
The above picture was taken at the stage near the reception area of the festival. If you look closely, you can see that these poor women have even worse zōri than I showed in the earlier picture – they just look like black blocks in this shot. Yeah. That’s why the women have man slaves at their beckon call. They literally can’t walk (or even stand?) without assistance. Why the first woman to wear these (or any sort of heel, really) thought it was a good idea I will honestly never understand!
But yes, enough of being in awe of the zōri, I was going to talk about the festival!
Apparently, they have this event every year and you have to get tickets for it in advance (which are free, by the way!). I guess you have to get them quite a bit in advance but I honestly couldn’t tell you when. I had only known about the kimono festival for a few weeks, and until this past week I had no idea of the times it ran or that tickets (and pre-ordered ones, at that) were even a thing.
So uh…how exactly did I get to go then?
Well, it turns out the tickets aren’t even required, for one. If you want to participate in “events” or get some free things then they’re good to have, but otherwise you’re free to do what you want. But wait, there’s more! I actually did end up getting tickets just a few days prior. I was told by the people that lent me the kimono (who go to the festival every year) that I should call a certain number and see if it was still possible to get tickets. So I did – and basically I think the guy just thought my Japanese was so pitiful (and therefore realized I was a gaijin, or foreigner) that he said I could get tickets if I gave my name at the reception desk after arrival – go me! But really, does it even matter? Considering the tickets are free, I don’t see why they don’t just do that with everyone that shows up. And I heard that quite a few other people got tickets by calling at the last minute too. So…moral of the story? Don’t worry about pre-ordering tickets for the Amanohashidate Kimono Fest!
The events themselves were honestly not anything special – I think the charm of the festival lies in the fact that everyone is wearing kimono (which you rarely see in Japan these days, outside of festivals) and it’s at the beautiful, Amanohashidate!
For the events, basically you just go to four different spots in the area and collect stamps by answering trivia questions about kimono and Amanohashidate. You also get a tea ticket—which lands you a nice cup of traditional green tea and a Japanese sweet—and an entry into a lottery. For what? I honestly couldn’t tell you. But I did get a pretty calendar as a consolation prize!
And this one they won’t mention to you but as a foreigner in Japan it’s always kind of expected, cause well, Japan…but I got my picture taken A LOT by random Japanese men with professional cameras. Now, they take pictures of a lot of people but if you’re a foreigner (and a woman), I guarantee they will not only want to take a picture of you, they’ll want to take a lot! And they won’t only want to take pictures of you either—they will also want to take pictures with you!
After about a five minute photoshoot with these two guys that couldn’t stop taking professional pictures of me, I asked if they could take a picture for me with my cell phone—this is what I got:
Not half bad – though my left hand looks a bit weird. And I may be flipping off the photographer with my right hand if you look closely. I didn’t even realize until looking at it right now…that’s the subconscious mind at work, people.
I would love to go to this again next year if I’m in the area! May bring some pepper spray though…