August 11, 2011
3rd floor AbAb Store
Ueno, Tokyo, Japan
I see Tita Petite and her Thai friend, Rudee, go through a stack of Yukata.
Tita Petite then lifts one from the rack and holds it up in front of me.
She starts to asses the how the Yukata would look on me.
Tita Petite and Rudee then starts to discuss something in what I hear is a mix of Thai and Japanese.
And I begin to wonder.
My mind floats back to when Cholo and I had first arrived in Tokyo and I pointed out to Tita Petite how pretty the Yukata girls look. When she asked me if I wanted to wear one. I said “Yes!” I didn’t think she would take me seriously.
I was snapped back to reality when Tita Gina started to explain to me that the Yukata I would be wearing tomorrow would compliment the Yukata that she, along with Rudee and her other friend Grace, would be wearing.
She gave the Yukata to me. I drape the black Yukata with flower designs in pink, yellow, white and purple over my arm.
I thought we were done, but no! Rudee then held my arm and pointed out to me that we are to go to the accessories department.
“Oh My God! I couldn’t believe this is happening!” was all I could say to myself.
There I was standing by the accessories counter, my face with a 4 day old beard, with two lovely ladies clipping flowers on my hair.
August 12, 2011
Kimono Tansu Ya, Shin Nakamise- dori
Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan
Cholo and I found ourselves in a Kimono-ya San* in Asakusa. Tita Petite along with her friend, Grace, was talking to two older Japanese women who, I presume, run the place. Lets call them Oka-san one and Oka-san two. While Tita Petite was having a conversation with the owners. I decided to look around the store.
At the inner left corner of the store, I see curtains. “That must be where we would change”, I surmised. As I looked around I see beautiful Kimono all around me! Such vivid colors and such amazing details in its design.
A bell rings and I turn around. As the door slides open, two girls wearing their Yukata comes in and goes to one side of the store. They are buying accessories.
I look back to Tita Petite because I sense that she was telling the women that I would be wearing the black Yukata with pink, yellow, white and purple flowers. I could see the look of confusion in their faces and I could tell what was running through their minds!
Grace is now being dressed and as per Tita Petite’s instructions, I start to get ready.
My makeup was already done for I applied it at the hotel an hour before we left. As soon as I put on the wig, styled it accordingly with Tita Petite’s help, I turned to the two old women and asked; “Oka-san, Atashi daijobu?” (Mother, I okay?) in barbaric Japanese.
And they swooned! They started saying things in Japanese that I couldn’t even understand but I felt that they approved of my immediate transformation.
“They say you look pretty!”offers Tita Petite. I bow and gave them my thanks.
It was now my turn to get dressed. I wore a shirt and shorts so that I could have something under the Yukata. The old women wouldn’t allow it. So with their help, I removed my shirt and I stripped down to my boxers.
Oka-san one started to dress me, she first gave me a white robe which would serve as an inner lining. She tied it around my waist and stopped. She went behind the curtain and came back a few seconds later with a face towel.
” A face towel? What for?”I asked myself.
She placed the towel on my waist and tied it with the strings of my inner robe and secured it in place. I later found out that the white inner robe would keep my sweat from seeping into the Yukata. The face towel was used to add some meat on me because I have a very small waist. A Obi sash sits better on a “not so trim waist”.
Oka-san asks me if I’m okay. I nod my head. It’s a little bit tight but I could still breathe.
Oka-san two comes along and starts to dress me in my Yukata. She drapes it left over right. She goes behind me and spreads the reminder of the cloth on the floor nicely. She then disappears behind the curtain.
Oka-san one appears and kneels in front of me. She holds the Yukata from the waist and gently adjust the hem. I look down and realize that the Yukata has to be at a certain length. It brushes by my ankles.
Both women are now attaching my Obi sash. Oka-san one wraps the pink Obi sash around my waist. Before securing my Obi, she instructs Oka-san two to put an Obi-ita in between the layers of my Obi sash. I can feel my Obi sash getting tighter and tighter as she ties it. Oka-san two gently pulls in one area to adjust it, making sure my Obi sits nicely around my waist. My Obi sash is called a Tsuke Obi, this is an informal type of Obi that is usually used for securing a Yukata. It comes with a “Sailor Moon-like” ribbon too.
Oka-san one asks me once again if I’m okay. I nod my head. Though it’s tighter now, luckily, I can still breathe comfortably.
Through the mirror, I could see Oka-san two hand my “Sailor Moon-like” ribbon to Oka-san one. Once more I could feel my Obi getting tighter. Oka-san one secures my “Sailor Moon-like” ribbon that perches at the edge of my Obi to prevent it from falling down while I walk around later.
Oka-san one disappears behind the curtain and I thought we were through but, no! She comes back with a white lace. She folds it and ties it around my Obi sash. I turn to look at the mirror. I could see the white lace was tied like a ribbon and was placed just above my pink “Sailor Moon-like” ribbon. She once again disappears behind the curtain and comes back holding a long string colored in variations of red and pink with tassels dangling at the end. This is called a Obijime, a string that is tied around the Obi sash that serves mainly as a decoration.
She stands back and observes her work.
I look at myself in the mirror with such amazement that I couldn’t stop giggling. I turned around and look at the ribbons behind me. I continued giggling.
sharing a laugh
Oka-san one declares that she is through. She guides me off the dressing area and helps me wear my Geta.
I gathered my bearings and faced the two Japanese women. I bowed and thanked them for dressing me.
everyone in full garb by the Nitenmon
It was now Tita Petite’s turn to be dressed. When she was done, Rudee arrived and got dressed in 15 minutes.
When all the women were done changing, It was now Cholo’s turn. No, he didn’t change into a Yukata, but he wore a Jinbei, a traditional summer clothing for Japanese men.
After arranging the necessary things I need in my bamboo purse and having some last minute adjustment from the two Oka-san, we were ready to hit the temples of Asakusa.
This wonderful experience wouldn’t have been a blast if it was not Tita Petite. Bless her sweet heart! Never in my life have I ever dreamt that I would ever walk around Japan in a Yukata. That’s why I am most grateful to Tita Petite for making this dream into a reality. I will forever cherish this experience.
Cholo and I went to Japan to celebrate our 5th year together as partners. Tita Petite made sure that we are to experience “getting married” in a traditional Japanese manner. Cholo and I had our selves smoked! We gave offerings to the gods! We even cleansed ourselves with water. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if it was all for fun, Tita Petite choreographed everything to give meaning to our excursion for this day. It is not only about going around Asakusa in drag, but it is a celebration.
A celebration of new experiences, a celebration of love, a celebration of friendship and a celebration of LIFE.
Thank you Tita Petite! Thank you Rudee! and Thank you Grace! Our visit to Tokyo is truly an affair to remember!
To view the complete photo album of “Being Sayuri” click here.
Kimono Tansu Ya
*A Kimono-ya San is a store that sells new or second hand Kimono, Yukata, and all the accessories that comes along with it. In some Kimono-ya stores, they offer to dress you and to have your picture taken for a fee. It ranges from 3000 Yen to 6000 Yen.
Tita Petite brought us to the Kimono-ya San she usually frequents in Asakusa. It is Called Kimono Tansu Ya.
To get there, you have to get to Asakusa station and make it your starting point. From there, make your way to the Kaminarimon. When you face the great red lantern of the Kaminarimon, go through the gate. You will find yourself at the main starting point of Nakamise-dori (If you walk straight this will bring you straight to the Hozomon of the Senso-ji). You will be flanked by kiosks on the left and the right. Start walking until you reach the end of the second block of stores. This is the first corner. Turn right and you will find yourself at Shin Nakamise-dori. Continue walking until you see the Kimono-ya San situated on the left. See the photo on the left for reference.