Walking around Samurai village in Kimono

Not far from Akita City there is a  Samurai Village called Kakunodate.

About Kakunodate ( skip this if u don wana know :P)
 About 400 years ago, there are several samurai families moving into the Kakunodate area. They decided to build the castle and the town at the current place because the area was solidly protected by nature- two rivers running west and south, and the hills on the north and east. 

 The traditional buildings in Kakunodate are beautifully preserved.
The house of Aoyagi family, for example, stands with its long history. The internals of the house is currently used as an archive museum, and visitors can see and learn about the life of a samurai family. Apart from the houses, the yards of sophisticated Japanese garden around proofs how Japanese love nature and coexist with it. 

After getting dressed up in traditional Japanese Kimono( my 1st time!!!), we walked gracefully in those wooden Japanese slippers along these Samurai houses embracing the beauty of their olden houses and garden.

Well, we sure came at the right time where we had the perfect weather in autumn.

Samurai homes were typically modest dwellings but with the significant distinction that only samurai houses were allowed to have walls and gates. 
The background of traditional samurai houses and the colourful autumn leaves was surely the perfect picturesque place for those whom would love to have a memorable picture together.  
After several generations, there are only 6 samurai houses in this area which are open to public and visitors to see how middle class and wealthy samurai families lived in the past. Among these houses, there are two famous known ones for their size and quality : The Aoyagi and Ishiguro House.
 The other four open houses are free to enter but there are limited levels of accessibility. They are smaller than the other 2 famous ones and are mostly examples of middle class Samurai residences.
They are the 
Odano Samurai House, Kawarada Samurai House, Iwahashi Samurai House and Matsumoto Samurai House

My utmost favourite samurai house was the  Kawarada Samurai House.

This house has such a lovely garden and what was unique is that the door by the owners house to enter the garden was smaller than the other entrance. We were informed that the owner would have such tiny door as this would be a personal door for the owner to bow and pass through in respect of his guests. However, short people like me would not need to bow at all.
Whereas, the tall fiance would probably need to kneel or bow super low to get through this door.
We sure had some fun time teasing about our huge size difference.
The Japanese garden in different houses differs in many ways. Yet , all were beautiful in their peak autumn colours and nicely shaped bonzai trees. Their effort in creating the zen feel in these garden sure pays off as it brings so much calmness towards every visitors that steps into their premises.

Other than traditional houses, along the roadsides were some souvenir shops selling local delicacies. 
It was sure interesting to stopover and have a taste of their local made products.

As we stroll around admiring these traditional samurai houses, 
we also had some time to just sit down relax and just enjoy the beautiful autumn colours surroundings. 

We sure never expected the day to be so short and as time flies,
night fall arrived.

And it was time for us to say goodbye and do some snack shopping in 7-Eleven.
It was such an unforgettable experience to blend into the Japanese culture a day.
If you asked me will I do it again, I would say Yes.

For more info of this tour
contact -h-susaki@travel.dsn.com
and check out their website


Making Sakura Art Craft in Kakunodate, Japan

It was sure awkward to walk into a museum and then everyone starring at us cause we were the only one in the traditional outfit. Well apparently it's not bad wearing a kimono for the 1st time !

But sitting down in a warm room making art crafts can be a bit too stuffy compared to just 

Kakunodate ( is where we are)  is famous for sakura kabazaiku, a Japanese traditional craftsmanship using the bark of cherry blossom trees. The work looks sophisticated and the smooth touch of the cherry bark shows the specialty and elegance of the craftsmanship.

Well, since we were in Kakunodate, we had the opportunity to go for a Sakura art craft class.
PS: This class is only available through a special booking. It's not a first come first serve basis.
Our first introduction was to choose a pattern design.

And there were some tree barks looking as if they were cardboards placed on the table.
The back of these barks were brushed with layers of dried glue beforehand.

It all started off quite easy as we were told to trace the pattern and then using a carbon paper, we trace it on the sakura bark.
The carbon paper leaves a mark on the sakura bark and we will then follow the pattern and cut it out.

 It was quite interesting as I was extremely curious with the tools and things around us such as the glue. We were told that this glue was made out of a cow. It was sure amazing to see that how Japanese are able to create an art just from using natural things even the glue itself.
Right after cutting out the design, We were instructed to used these ancient irons which gets heated up by the fire. Our teacher was very kind and thoughtful as he advice several times on how hot this iron can be and we have to be extremely careful with it.
However, we were astonished to see that he was so strong and was able to touch this hot iron with his bare hands. 
 We sure had a very perfectionist teacher that would always be there to help us and touch up the best of our art piece.
 He even took the effort to do some extra carvings on my bamboo designs and Christian's leaves.

The experience was sure one of a kind ! We totally would not have expected to learn so much from such a unique art craft, What more, we get to go back with a lovely souvenir in remembrance of this place.
Thanks to www.con-akita.com
 that made this wonderful experience possible !

For further info of this tour email:

Check out Next on our crazy Tour in 
Making our own Fireworks,
Visiting a Firework Factory 
A private Omagari Firework experience !!


My first time wearing Kimono in Japan

4year ago, when I was dating my fiancee, he asked me : " What would you like me to buy back for you from Japan ? "
I said : A Kimono.
And Indeed 4 Yrs ago, he bought me a full set of kimono from Japan,
 but I have not worn it yet.
Being my 4th time to Japan and I still can't believe I haven't wore a Kimono in Japan before. Well, this time; my dream came true in Kakunodate, Akita, Japan.

Upon our arrival in Kakunodate, our hearts were racing as we were super excited in getting dressed in a Kimono. It had always been a dream for me to get dressed in such noble traditional outfit as I admire the elegance and beauty of it.

The premises such surprised us as it turned out to be also a souvenier shop and free museum as well.

There we were as we arrived in a tradtional Japanese room where we were given the choice to choose the colour and patterns of our desired kimono outfit.

Well, beforehand, we had to style our hair first to suit up the Kimono look.

Whereas the men would just need to get dressed up without styling needed.
I must say He looked quite charming in the white underpants and wear.

It was quite hilarious when the lady placed in 3 sets of folded towels into his belly area. 
We then later knew the reason for it as the rich would only wear Kimono and having a big belly means you eat well and are rich. 

It took only few minutes and Christian was all dressed up and admiring himself in the mirror while I was still styling my hair.

Then, he left to check out the store decorations and surroundings.

On the other hand, I had at last done with my hair do and it was time for me to get dressed.
The first inner layers for kimono were light cotton cloth as I believe it was autumn and not that cold.
Their recommendations helped me in picking up the kimono colour that suits me best.
It was extremely interesting to get dressed up as I realized she also placed several towels on my tummy part as well.Well, this probably would differ from the men as it would work like a magic to make a women look slimmer instead. She also tied on layers of strings to support the kimono to stay in shape. Lastly, a touch of Obi belt which totally match my kimono made my day. I was so glad that they were able to find a colour that matches my desired kimono.

Before that, I always had an imagination on how painful it is to wear a kimono as some says it's kind of like a corset.
However, to me, it wasn't.
The lady sure tied the kimono well and it didn't cause any discomfort at all.
I was confident that I can even run in it.

It sure does feel like an upper class when you get 2 people dressing you up. 
I could imagine myself living in those days in the upper class group with servants dressing me up everyday. Flicking out of my dream world, I then realized it was all done and I was ready to meet Christian at last.
I found him relaxing in their garden and he was sure indeed glad to see how different I look like.

"Autumn is like a second spring whereby every leaf is a flower." - Albert Camus

And they sure did.
Sometimes , what we have seen on the media and heard of might be totally different when we have such experience personally.
I am so glad and honoured to say that I have or had tried on a Kimono in Japan and sure felt good.
As for Christian, he had some issues wearing those high heel men slippers but sure had lots of fun feeling bigger in size. Well, he now won't feel bad having a bigger tummy in future as it would mean he's rich and well fed then. 

Plus, the Next day tour turned out to be much more awesome !

We got to Make our own Firework
Check out their Factory
And experience
A Private Omagari Firework !

Interested in this tour?
Email: h-susaki@travel.dsn.com and 
check out their website
 unique experiences in Akita, Japan .


Aoni Onsen in Kuroishi

If ur nearby in Aomori or Hirosaki, don't miss out Kuroishi in autumn season as they have splendid spots to visit around! 
There are buses that help u to get around but lucky us we got a lovely guide ! 

First we went to lake Iwani, (Rainbow Lake) then Nakano mountain, owani bashi and lastly Aoni Onsen.

This place is famously known for not having electricity and using lamp oil.
The aroma of firewood is very strong and very relaxing to soak in it.
How to get to this Onsen with public transport?
From Kuroishi station, take a bus to Iwani lake then take another shuttle bus from there to the hotspring. More info of time can be obtained from their tourist information centre.
 Here's the entrance of the hotspring.
Entrance fee about 500++ yen and as we enter, we saw lots of lamp oil.
There are 2sides of hot spring area. One would be through their ryokan(hotel) which is limited to 30mins. Another one out of their ryokan area(no time limit)
First one we would passby the ryokan and see their rest area.
And some employees working.

Then after crossing the bridge of river, there are 2diff hotspring. one seperate gender, another one mix gender. The female hotspring has outdoor one but it wasn't warm enough outdoor compared to indoor. Yet, there is a nice view of the waterfall n autumn colours to enjoy while soaking in the hotspring.

Here's how the mix gender one looks like.

And then after 30mins we went to the another hotspring of of their ryokan. They have indoor ones with lovely autumn leaves view and outdoor tub with the view if the river.
The aroma od wood here is much stronger than the one in their ryokan and it was extremely relaxing and nice to be alone. 

And Here is some view on the way there. Ps. The road to Aoni onsen would go off road and it's very exciting an adventurous as it seems like we were  going through the forest !

Thanks for reading!!!

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