Our First Kimono Experience at Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto

When I (Stacey) asked Jake if we could dress up in kimonos at Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, Japan, he gave me a smirk many wives know well. The one that means no, I really don’t want to do that, but I don’t want to tell you no. After a bit of coaxing, I talked him into it. After all, the temple complex means a lot to us – it’s where Jake got down on one knee and asked me to marry him in 2013.

After some quick research online, I booked a reservation at one of the kimono rental places near the shrine. We didn’t know what to expect, but we knew two things for sure: the photos would last forever and, in this life, you can’t take yourself too seriously.

The fitting was an experience in and of itself. We entered the shop, removed our shoes and placed our belonging in bags. Then we were led into two rooms that featured several racks of beautiful kimonos – colorful floral prints and stripes for women, and solid shiny colors for men. Our options were somewhat limited due to our heights, but it was fun being able to choose the kimonos we most identified with. I went with a purple, green and pink floral piece, while Jake chose layers of dark and light blue.

We were led upstairs to separate changing rooms where Japanese women helped us get dressed. The process of positioning and tying the kimonos properly was especially interesting – a bit restrictive at times, but fascinating nonetheless.

After getting dressed, we chose our our accessories – a beaded fastener for Jake, and a waist sash (obi), braided cord (obijime), hair flower and drawstring purse (kinchaku) for me. We both opted to not wear the traditional toe socks and sandals – not sure if that was taboo, but we didn’t want to be slipping and sliding on Fushimi Inari’s 12,000 steps.

When we emerged from our dressing rooms, we felt excited, amused and a little ridiculous, all at the same time. Then, we headed to the shrine for a fun four hours that we’ll never forget.

About the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine: Located in Kyoto, this shrine sits at the bottom of Mount Inari and is the head shrine of Inari, the god of rice. The grounds consist of trails that head up the mountain to many smaller shrines. Because of the unique beauty of its more than 10,000 orange torii gates, Fushimi Inari is the most photographed and visited site in Japan. The gates date back to 711 A.D.

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