D2 – Kyoto Exchange – Kimono Factory

Little did we know how big of a thing the Kimono Factory really was. I had thought maybe it was just a filler to round out the day. Boy was I wrong about that. This stop turned out to be very surprising for several of the students.

The plan was to watch one of the hourly shows. Models would come out every hour to model kimonos from this establishment. These models were famous in Japan, and they drew very large crowds for these shows.

Each of the models came out one by one to model the kimonos. One of the students on the trip fell in love with each of the models as they came out. They were all very beautiful and elegant Japanese women who were modeling the kimonos. After the show he went back behind the stage to see if he could get his picture taken with any of them.  He was very persistent and almost got thrown out by the security guard at the door. 

After the show the students were taken across the street to the factory where the fabric is made. They were all given an opportunity to sit down at a loom and weave some cloth. Five of the female students made a reservation for afterwards to go back across the street and try on a kimono and get their pictures taken. Here Mr. Cornwell, who is much more comfortable sitting in front of a computer screen creating, is trying to master the subtleties of the weaving loom. Not quite as easy as arranging pixels on a screen.

The other students were picking it up pretty fast with the help of a few experts. They each ended up making a small runner of fabric that they took home with them.

After we were done at the looms  it was back across the street so the girls could get in their kimonos. This is not a quick process, and all were surprised at the layers of cloth and attention to detail required to put on a kimono. Each said they had to be dressed by a female  assistant familiar with kimonos.  When they were dressed they posed for their pictures (and a Twitter pic).

It was getting late in the day and I thought I would lighten things up and ask them for a “crazy” pose. While complaining about not being able to bend or move they complied with the request and laughed out loud.

When they were finishing up I heard that the show out on stage was drawing to a close. I asked the lady who had been coordinating this session if it would be ok to get them up on stage without their knowledge. She smiled and yelled out at the girls to follow her out so they could show their friends what they looked like in kimonos.

They stepped out in the hallway and asked which way to go. The lady directed them up a few steps and through an archway. To their surprise they ended up on stage, and the audience from the show were still milling around the lobby around the stage.

I think a few of them panicked, but were quickly encouraged to play it up by their fellow students who were down below watching and snapping pictures.

They did quickly fall into the role and started striking poses for the people who were still there.

This was their debut as Japanese Kimono Models. One of them said later that they were now famous in Japan. I think this stop on our trip worked out with great success, and is something they will remember for a long time.

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