During summer of 2011 I had the unique opportunity to visit the National Japanese Kimono Championship Finals in Hama Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, Japan. Even though the event itself is of utmost importance for its contestants, it’s a rather calm and intimate happening with a fairly small audience.
We were the only western foreigners at the event, hence even got personally welcomed and thanked by the head and organizer of the competition. He also offered us a couple of seats in the first row, so we’d have good photo opportunities.
If you have wondered what “Gaijin” sometimes refer to as “VIP in Japan”, this kind of special treatment is what they are talking about. We were, nonetheless honored by his gratitude.
Altogether this has been a special and insightful day (Thank you, Junko!), and I am glad to have seen the determination, proficiency and care these women put into dressing up in a Kimono. The speed and accuracy was performed in such a meditative and calm state, it was easy to forget they had to do it within a mere 120 seconds (hair and back-ribbon were prepaired in advance). The older performers even topped it off by showing the whole process blindfolded. Everything was judged by a jury of elderly women, who expressed a very keen and focused eye, when walking through the rows and rows of attired women.
Camera; Canon EOS Kiss X4/550D
Lense; EF-s 55-250mm f/4-5.6 IS II
…, and my first try at using an DSLR.
You can find the full set here.