HEY, GUYS, GUESS WHAT I DID YESTERDAY.
I think this month will be my month of doing ridiculous(ly awesome) things, because Itou-san emailed me a couple of days ago and was like, "Hey, want to try on priest clothes?" and I was like, "SURE????" So I went over to Kawahara Shrine yesterday (to take a break from my monster of a paper) and Yamauchi-san and Itou-san had way too much fun dressing me up, because this is what you do when you are studying Shinto, right?
...I now know a whole lot about priest clothes and also how hard it is to move in them and also how amazing your posture has to be. So much respect.
If you are wondering, this is basically the most dressed up you can possibly be as a lady priest. I am wearing, uh, five layers? The red layer, the green and pink layers (they have to be worn together), a white undershirt sort of layer, and my t-shirt under all that.
The crown is only worn by female priests, and it's VERY precariously perched, so you have to keep your head absolutely straight or it will fall off.
The thing I'm holding is a fan that's been wrapped in a bunch of differently colored cords. It's only carried by female priests.
(Itou-san said she prefers the male priests' dress style, and I have to say that it involves a LOT fewer layers, and the hat is much less...tippy.)
SO MANY LAYERS.
This photo is every day at Kawahara Shrine, let's be honest.
Also, check out those SHOES. They are like BOATS. But they're much easier to walk in than I thought they would be.
So if you take off the top layer, that's a separate dress style!
So there's totally a story behind that random doll in the corner. When you're getting rid of an object with a lot of sentimental value (or an object that seems more "human" than regular trash), you are supposed to bring it to the shrine to have it purified before you dispose of it.
Has been sitting in that corner.
Since I arrived in Japan.
I am not even kidding.
Itou-san keeps saying, "...yeah, I'll get to it eventually," but, let's face it, that doll is kind of creepy and also reminds me of the doll in Paprika, and I would not want to mess with it, honestly.
Getting lessons on how to hold things properly... Itou-san kept saying, "Grip it! Not like that. Grip it differently. More loosely. No, more tightly. Yes, like that, except not exactly."
HAND GRIP, PERFECTED!
...I don't know what was happening here. Maybe I suddenly got wigged out by that doll.
Just to give you an idea of how complicated female priests' robes are, at this point I was wearing two layers of outer robes (the pink and the green) on top of the "regular" white robes and hakama.
Bam, changing robes. The collar on this one was stiff, so if you're not careful you can strangle yourself with it. Fun, fun, fun.
This is a more male-style robe, and it's much easier to put on, other than the strangling bit.
Hat change! This is a male-style hat, and it's much more comfortable and less likely to fall off your head than the crown.
The wooden paddle is called a shaku, and it used to be carried by formally attired aristocrats. Today it's really only used by priests during ceremonies, although by "used" I mean "held." (Although Itou-san said she used to write her ceremony notes on the back of it.) According to Basic Terms of Shinto (Revised Edition), the shaku probably "originated in China as a prompter used during official ceremenies [sic]."
Itou-san was like, "DON'T TAKE A PICTURE OF THAT," so of course Yamauchi-san did.
...as you can probably tell, the hakama were MUCH too short for me, so we tied them MUCH too low, so that they would be the correct length. It looked ridiculous without an outer robe, basically.
Also, the purple hakama are only for priests of the third level and above, which means you've been in the priesthood for 20 years or more and you've gotten a recommendation from the leader of the branch office. Itou-san has roughly 5 more years to go before she becomes eligible. (She actually inherited the hakama from the priest who was head priest before her.)
Another male-style robe!
It might be hard to tell from these pictures, but with these styles of robes, the sleeves are made to be much too long, so you fold them up until they're only slightly too long and then hold the very edge of your sleeve with your left hand.
(This was Itou-san saying, "DON'T LAUGH. PRIESTS DON'T GRIN," and of course then I had a fit of giggles.)
(Trying not to giggle and failing a little.)
Then we went out to the little garden in the back of the shrine, where I'd never been before...
(SERIOUSLY, CHECK OUT THOSE SHOESSSSS.)
(Failing at being serious again.)
(...I don't even know what this face is.)
(Yamauchi-san was like, "YOU SHOULD USE THIS FOR YOUR CHRISTMAS CARDS," and Itou-san was like, "YUS, DO IT," so I guess I have to do this now. Or something.)
Also, check out that collar! The reason it's shaped the way it is is that there's actually a bit of plastic in the front holding it in that shape, and there's some sort of framework on the inside as well. I wasn't kidding about being able to strangle yourself with it.
So, yeah! I learned a lot and it was fun and now I know way more about priest clothes than I ever thought there was to learn!
And then I went out to dinner with Yamauchi-san and Itou-san, and we got miso nikomi udon, which is udon cooked in a big pot with SO MUCH miso and it is DELICIOUS. As much as I am looking forward to eating cheese (and sourdough and cheap vegetables and fruit and Mexican food and butter and...), I'm going to miss Japanese food like crazy.
So, all in all, a pretty awesome day!
...meanwhile, my paper is 19.5k and 67 pages. It's only missing the conclusion, though! So hopefully I can pound that out tonight and then spend the next couple of days editing it/smashing my head against things because it's not beautiful/perfect/brilliant enough, and then I can send it in and spend my last 2 weeks frolicking and stuff.