Kansai, which has prospered as the center of Japan since ancient times, is full of historic heritage sites. We will now introduce you to an experience where you will be transformed into a person from ancient times by wearing genuine old-style clothing in historically famous and holy places. We offer you a trip where you can fully experience history that has been built up over a long time.
The photograph shows tsubo clothing worn by upper-class women in the Heian-period on trips and outings. At that time, it was the custom for women of a social standing not to show their faces needlessly, so a thin cloth was placed over the head, which also kept insects away.
You will get a real taste of the Kumano Kodo atmosphere simply by walking along Daimonzaka.
Kumano Kodo, which extends through Wakayama prefecture, Mie prefecture, Nara prefecture and Osaka, is an ancient road used on a pilgrimage of the holy Kumano Sanzan shrines. As part of the pilgrim road between sacred areas and temples in the Kii Mountains, it has been registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
It was the nobles of the Heian Period in the 11th Century that first brought about the popularity of visiting the temples of Kumano among common people. At Daimonzaka, which has a particularly antiquated appearance even for the Kumano Kudo, you can enjoy walking and taking commemorative photographs in rented Heian Period costumes.
The Heian Period was the time in which aristocratic culture really flourished, and beauty in terms of literature and clothing that was unique to Japan was established. Heian Period nobles were known for walking along Daimonzaka in their refined outdoor clothing. This experience is particularly popular with women, who can transform into daughters of noblemen.
Heian Period costumes can be rented at the Daimonzaka rest area, Daimonzaka-chaya. There are costumes for women, men and children, and the staff will provide appropriate assistance to help you dress. Your normal clothes and bags can be stored here, so you will be dressed head to toe in Heian costume.
By selecting the “Experience Course (2 hours)” at the Daimonzaka-chaya, you can walk in the Heian clothing not only in the Daimonzaka area but also to Nachi Mountain, which is one of the Kumano Sanzan. Kumano Nachi Taisha is 30 minutes on foot along the ancient road at the top of a long flight of stone stairs. The Nachi Waterfall, which has been deified, is the highest waterfall with an uninterrupted drop in Japan. Kumano Nachi Taisha and Nachisan Seigantoji next to the grand shrine are part of the World Heritage site, and the whole area has long been visited by vast numbers of royalty, religious practitioners and common people as the one of the foremost sacred areas of Kumano. Visiting this location in the Heian costume heightens the sensation.
Climb the stone steps to get to Kumano Nachi Taisha.
There is a spiritual atmosphere among the naturally blessed grounds of Kumano Nachi Taisha Temple. Heian clothing can also be rented at Kumano Nachi Taisha.
The Nachi Waterfall viewed from Hirou-Jinjya shrine, an associated shrine of Kumano Nachi Taisha. The Nachi Waterfall is deified as the object of worship at the shrine.
Nachisan Seigantoji was opened by Ragyo Shonin, who was inspired by Kannon Bosatsu while engaged in ascetic practices under the Nachi Waterfall.
The yellow stole worn over the shoulder has its origins in the saris of ancient India. In Japan, which is colder than India, another layer of clothing is worn under the stole. The hood has also long been worn by priests, and it is used here in the priestess experience.
On Mount Shigi, close to the border between Osaka and Nara prefectures, is a temple opened by Shoutoku Taishi, one of the superstars of ancient history who promoted the founding of an emperor-based and Buddhism-based nation. One of the sub temples of the historic Mount Shigi, Gyokuzo-in, is well-known as a lodging place that offers various ascetic experiences. It is also one of the few places in Japan where you can wear the official robes that give proof of being priest in ascetic practices held in one-day or one night 2-day course.
The clothing of priests in Japan was developed uniquely according to the Japanese climate on the basis of the ancient clothing of Indian priests. By experiencing the comfort and the weight of these clothes, you will feel closer to the priests who have carried out ascetic practices at Mount Shigi since it was founded in ancient times. The highlight of the rich variety of ascetic practices is the Buddhist prayer experienced early in the morning on the 1-night 2-day course. You will feel purified being dressed in the official robes of the priests and priestesses and reciting Buddhist sutras in front of the burning fire. Though not wearing the robes, you can simply try single or combined ascetic practices including sutra copying, asokukan - meditating while creating vocal sounds - and 108 bows, in which you kneel and then stand up while facing the main idol. You do not have to understand Japanese in these practices.
In the main building at Mount Shigi, you can experience the Daihanya prayer book being opened up like an accordion of sutras. This compilation of sutras comprising more than 600 sutras is said to be as virtuous as reading the entire Great Perfection of Wisdom sutra.
You can also participate in cedar-stick burning while wearing Buddhist robes, which reveals and destroys bad thoughts with its flames.
Vegetarian cuisine, with its variety of appearances, smells and tastes using limited ingredients, has contributed to the development of Japanese food culture.
Vegetarian cuisine, which forbids the use of animal products, is required by priests due to Buddhist teachings. The vegetarian cuisine enjoyed on the ascetic experiences offered by Gyokuzo-in is famous for being delicious, although no meat or fish is used. The intricate preparation techniques produce beautiful food that is satisfying to eat. If you understand some Japanese, table manners are taught in the ascetic experience, so it is an opportunity to re-evaluate the act of eating. Come to Gyokuzo-in on Mount Shigi for an ascetic experience that will fortify you as you find yourself after reaching a state of emptiness.
The legendary heroes of the so-called Warring States period in Japan, which occurred around the 16th Century, are still popular today. Recently, more historical places have opened where you can experience wearing the armor and helmets from the Warring States period, during which time the design of the armor and helmets was a symbol of each military commander. Even among these, the armor and helmet experience at Himeji Castle is outstanding. Himeji Castle in Hyogo Prefecture is one of Japan’s leading cultural properties and was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in Japan alongside Horyuji in Nara. Moreover, it is the best setting to dress as a military commander, as many famous commanders ruled this castle, including Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who first unified Japan as a country, and Tadamasa, the eldest son of Honda Tadakatsu who was a famous military commander.
Wearing the full suit of armor while at the World Heritage site of Himeji Castel is an amazing experience.
The striking line-up of warriors is made up of volunteer group members wearing armor and helmets.
The armor and helmet experience is held every Sunday from 12:30. You can walk around the castle and the castle town while wearing the genuine heavy armor. The event is organized by a volunteer group with armor and helmets that welcomes tourists, and you will be guided by a group member during the activity. The sight of people dressed as military commanders and warriors gathering together and walking around is a real spectacle. Please come and enjoy the romance of the Warring States period in the setting of the white walls of Himeji Castle.
In addition to the military commander/warrior experience, you can also dress as a ninja or guard soldier in Himeji Castle and its surroundings. In the ninja experience, you can also experience sword fighting and shuriken throwing under the guidance of former actors. The guard soldier experience also offers fun interactions with other tourists, such as taking commemorative pictures.
The ninja experience is very popular with younger children
There are also many young children that participate in the guard soldier experience where they wear armour
Himeji Castle is full of amazing sights, including many national treasures and important cultural properties, such as the main keep. In March 2015, for the first time in half a century, the major repairs that took 5 and a half years came to an end. Himeji Castle, with its radiant white walls, is now an even better place to visit. Along with its grand opening, the “Himeji Castle Great Discovery“ AR app. that makes use of CG, etc. was also released. You can now experience the atmosphere of the Warring States period and the Edo Period using the app, which brings up the sight of buildings that once existed and wars that took place.
Himeji Castle now has even whiter walls. The amazing night-time light-up is not to be missed.
There is also an English version of the app. Hold up your smartphone, etc. at marked AR points in the castle to view battles and more on your screen.
Dress as a maiko, geisha, or samurai and get your picture taken at this studio. Make-up, wigs, dressing and photography is all handled by highly-skilled professionals.
Experience the customs of Kyoto handed down throughout the generations at a Kyoto townhouse registered as a cultural property. There are many different plans, including kimono wearing, tea ceremonies and traditional bento lunches.
Choose and rent your favorite combination from among 500 different kimono and 200 different sashes. Walk through the emotionally-charged streets of Kyoto while wearing your kimono. Rent a kimono as a couple to receive a special price.
Change into the clothes of a samurai, and take up a katana and a fan to dance the traditional kenbu sword dance. Learn about samurai culture and etiquette, and experience the spirit of the samurai on this highly-popular program.
Osaka Kansai Airport
From Tokyo Haneda Airport
Number of departures per day: Approx. 10※
Osaka International Airport
From Tokyo Haneda Airport
Number of departures per day: Approx. 15※
*Information correct as of January 22 2016
Details correct as of the end of December, 2015.
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