Japan Day 9 – Adventures of the Gaijin and the Maiko in Kyoto

April 4, 2016.

I’m so excited for today because I will be heading to Studio Shiki, an establishment service in Higashiyama, Kyoto that transforms you into a geisha or maiko. I love culture and the arts. I remember when I went to Thailand last June I dressed up like a traditional Thai dancer wearing their bright and intricately designed costumes. That is why I want to make sure that when I visit Kyoto, I will dress up like a geisha or maiko so I could have a unique japanese experience in a fancy traditional way. I only see geisha or maiko on tv and I adore the beautiful kimonos they wear, the hair accessories, the distinct white faces with unique make up application and their graceful gestures.

Elizio and I woke up a bit late this morning so we had to rush because my reservation at Studio Shiki is around 11:30am. Took the bus to Takatsuki Station then took the JR Special Rapid train to Kyoto Station.

When we got out of Kyoto Station, we took the #206 Bus and ride for about 20 minutes, got off at Kiyomizu michi bus stop, then walked for about 5 minutes to Studio Shiki.

moments_2f8078ca-c38e-43e6-a1d8-2fe931ead228We passed by another scenic place called Ninenzaka stairs which is just a few blocks away from Studio Shiki.

The signage of Studio Shiki from the main street. Then the head shop is at the end of this alley.moments_8a8a42ac-9fa9-4d25-820f-5c91a551aef6I really love japanese architecture. There is something about the facade of Studio Shiki that appeals to me. I like the wooden louver sliding doors, a single lantern on the left and a cute geisha statue on the right corner.

I love the minimalist interiors of Studio Shiki. When we got in there were already a few people on queue. Seems like alot of tourists are really wanting to dress up as a geisha/maiko.

I approached the receptionist for my reservation, asked me to fill up some form and we waited by the benches. They have a promotional campaign for the opening of their head shop. I availed the Studio Shoot Plan for 5,900 yen from the regular price of 13,000 yen. You can check their website to view other plan options. The plan I got includes full make-up service, your choice of kimono, 6 studio shots and  10 minutes free time within the premises of the studio for taking your own photos. For an additional charge, it is required to buy a pair of Tabi socks (Japanese split toe socks) for sanitary purposes. I was also asked if I wanted a full wig or have them fix my natural hair but of course with additional charge so I chose the full wig (also because it is faster to put on).

After a few minutes of waiting, my name was called. Elizio is such a sweet guy that he is willing to wait for me until my transformation is finished. I told him to stroll around so he won’t get bored, so I kissed him on the cheeks and  will see him later.

First, I was asked to change my clothes and put on the tabi socks.

Cameras are not allowed inside the premises of the studio but I was able to sneak in some shots haha! Naughty me! 😀 But the staff caught me taking a photo at the make up room, then my phone got confiscated haha!

The full Maiko make-up took about 30 minutes then I was sent the kimono room to pick my kimono. I chose a dark colored kimono with shiny glitters and floral pattern, though it would stand out against my white face haha! After picking my kimono it was sent to the fitting area for preparation then I was sent to the hair station. I chose the full wig with front lace because it is easier to put on instead of having my natural hair dolled up. After my wig and hair accessories were put on, I was sent to the kimono fitting room.

I was surprised to know that a geisha/maiko has so many layers of kimono wrapped around her body! I lost count to be honest but after all the layers were done I felt like carrying a heavy load on my body haha! Being a geisha/maiko is not a joke. They wear hundreds of yards of fabric around their bodies yet they manage to stay calm and graceful. Kudos to them!

After about an hour of dressing up, I’m finally transformed into a Maiko and to be honest it was not what I expected to be. In short, I was not happy with what I looked like haha!

Then I was sent to the photo studio to have my shots taken and the staff called Elizio from the waiting area. I was feeling a bit nervous that I might scare him because of my make up haha!

When Elizio entered the room, I turned slowly and smiled at him. I asked him, “How do i look?” and there was a strange look from his face haha! He said I look so different and he really finds the maiko make-up strange. He also said he prefers me in the morning without any make up with just my smile 🙂

Then its my turn for the studio shots. Even though I did not like my look, I just lived the moment and have fun with it. Elizio laughed at me and said “You were so excited for this”. Yes I was and probably this is my most anticipated part of my itinerary but things did not turn out what I expected but it’s still ok 🙂

The photographer instructed me on the poses and gave me variety of accessories such as parasol, a ball and a fan. Elizio was watching me the whole time and I can see him smiling haha. 20160616_090200These are 5 of the 6 studio shots I had. I eventually gave one copy to our host Chiaki that’s why I was left with 5 haha.

After the shoot, I was given 10 minute free time to take my own photos. We went at the backyard and there we took pictures together.moments_f1f3491d-f1e1-46cc-9c82-f2f3994de77bThe gaijin and the maiko 🙂

I love how out outfit complement each other haha. We are working the red and blue color scheme!

20160404_134627_001This is probably one of my favorites shots of us together.

How handsome is my partner? Haha!

I also took some wacky shots. All thanks to my handsome photographer Elizio 😉

How often can you a selfie-addict maiko? Hahaha! 😀

moments_1f676712-8cf4-4f36-b743-a21e9924d8c5 How about a smoking maiko? hahaha! I just borrowed one stick from Elizio as an accessory haha!

We did not take the whole 10 minutes because I wanted to take the makeup out of my face as soon as possible and get dressed. Aside from we’re both hungry as we have not had lunch yet, we also have other places to go next.

After washing the make up off my face and changing back to my clothes, I went to the counter to pay for the services. Overall I paid 6,793 yen tax included. Though it didn’t meet my expectations, it was still an interesting experience 🙂

I am also thankful for Elizio for his patience in waiting for me for 2 hours, now we are both hungry haha! We didn’t take much time looking for a place to eat, so went to this restaurant that looked like a home. We sat on a tatami room and ordered our food.

I had a tempura rice bowl with soup and shibazuke (pickled cucumber and eggplant, typical in Kyoto) while Elizio had tempura udon. Itadakimasu!

We love to take each others photo while eating haha!

After a quick meal, we are off to our next destination, another famous tourist spot in Kyoto, the Fushimi Inari Taisha.

We took the Keihan Line train from Kiyomizu gojo station for about 10 minutes for 210 yen and got off at Fushimi Inari Station. Once you exit the station, it will be just a few steps from the giant torii of Fushimi Inari Shrine.moments_148e1e8f-01fd-439a-874d-6efa0467329dFushimi Inari Taisha is a famous, if not the most famous Shinto shrine in Kyoto. It is known for its hiking trail covered with thousands of bright vermilion-colored torii gates. I am really excited and been looking forward to be here.

20160404_160025Some of the beautiful buildings inside the Fushimi Inari Shrine.20160404_160159

On our way now to the entrance to the hiking trail with thousands of torii.20160404_160318

So this is where the trail starts.

I am so excited. I have been looking forward to this day when I can finally see and pass thru these brightly colored portals. It is a surreal experience!

moments_ac965ade-b5a2-4f22-ad05-519e8c9e6da1The trail is covered with approximately 10,000 vermilion torii donated by companies to wish for success in their businesses. The names of the companies are inscribed at the back of each torii and can be seen if you walk from the opposite direction. The trail is about 4km long that leads to the top of Mt. Inari and takes 2 to 3 hours to go and back.

When I was still in the Philippines, I have always wanted to go here. This was the first thing I wrote in my itinerary when I planned my solo trip to Japan. In fact, I was planning to just walk halfway without the intent to hike thru the top of the mountain. I did not expect that I would meet someone who will join me in walking thru this path. I never expected someone would hold my hand and help me go and walk further than what I planned.

I am so happy to have Elizio by my side as we hike thru this trail. There are times when I thought I could not make it anymore but he held my hand and helped me push through.

20160404_161651Along the way we saw this pond with a small cemetery on the side

We have found ways to entertain ourselves in this long walk by taking lots of picures haha!

I maybe smiling but it is not a joke climbing up these stairs haha!

We found a perfect spot to rest our tired legs haha. What a nice view of Kyoto.

And more and more climbing! There are about 15 stations in the trail, we were exhausted so when we checked we found out we were just halfway up the top! aww..

Good thing there is this amazing view halfway the trail. I never thought I could make it here. I feel like I’m on top of the world already (well almost haha)

More walking means more picture taking haha!

Next thing we knew we were already at the top of Mt. Inari. It was such a proud moment. I could not have done it without Elizio with me 🙂

20160404_170615
Made it to the top of Mt. Inari. Thank you to Elizio for being a great hiking buddy! haha 🙂

We did not stay too long at the top so we started our descent right after taking a picture of the shrine on top.

20160404_170835
We noticed the decrease in density of torii on our descent. We also saw a few torii that have been taken down.
20160404_170905
Goofy shot on our way down the mountain haha

Lesser toriis on the the way down

Along the way we saw this interesting grotto with waterfall feature. Elizio has a thing for the gentle splashing sound of water.

Soon enough we were at the ground and saw ourselves walking thru a quiet neighborhood.

Elizio take great pictures and he also has a thing for kannon statues.

Then we found our way to the exit. Me and my handsome photographer and hiking buddy haha! 🙂

After Fushimi Inari, we decided to go to Philosopher’s Path. Elizio have been telling me how beautiful to walk along this famous street. Although the sun is setting and we are not sure if we are gonna make it there with daylight, we still decided to go.

20160404_192740Unfortunately, we arrived in night time and the sakuras are not illuminated like in the parks. But walking along this long street of sakura trees is such a beautiful experience.

The Philosoper’s Path is a stone paved path running thru a canal lined with hundreds of sakura trees. It got it’s name because there used to be a university professor who walked along this street everyday for meditation.

It was around 7pm when we started walking here and it was so quiet and relaxing. If we arrived earlier it would have been nicer but nonetheless I still enjoy walking along this path.20160404_191300

I thanked Elizio again for coming here with me. Another place where I planned to go alone but never thought I would have such a great companion. This place is too beautiful to be visited alone. It is better to share with some company.

We didn’t stay too long as we wanted to go back to Chiaki’s home earlier than last night. We don’t want to miss the last bus again haha! So we walked back to the main road to ride the bus going to Kyoto Station.

I was craving for soba that night so we decided to find a soba restaurant at Kyoto Station.

moments_121d80b3-cfdf-4a08-a1fe-58aae0eca06cElizio had this big plate of cold soba noodles with soup, rice and pickled cucumbers.20160404_204526While I had a smaller serving of soba with rice, tempura and pickled vegetables.

We were a bit underwhelmed though because Elizio said the real soba noodles is made of buckwheat flour and usually has a brown color, the one we had is a bit paler. But nonetheless it still taste good! I love the chewyness of soba noodles!

Wacky shots before we eat haha! Itadakimasu!

It was another amazing fun-filled day in Kyoto. From the unique maiko experience, to the exhausting but exciting hiking at Fushimi Inari to the relaxing stroll at Philosopher’s Path. Another day full of happy memories 🙂

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