TG Universes & Series:
So of course we both turned to look down the platform, well it’s a reflex action. Indeed a woman about Mum’s age was heading directly for us, a grin plastered on her face and dressed, as we would say at home like a hausfrau. I was just about to greet her when I was beaten to it by a voice behind us; she hadn’t been aiming for us at all but for her friend behind us.
We hadn’t done much more than roll our eyes before a voice did address us.
“Konichi Wa, hello girls!”
The owner of the voice was nothing like I’d imagined, nothing at all. Whilst not tall by western standards she was taller than me by a bunch, her hair dyed a bright cerise and worn in two childlike bunches. That’s what caught my attention, her dress sense was a bit um eclectic too, a mix of sci fi bland geometrics for her top and skirt with platform soled trainers planting her to the ground.
“Miss Sakamoto?” Jules enquired.
“Sakamoto Aoi at your service, just call me Aoi, from what Miyaki told me you must be Juliette.”
“Uh yeah, that’s Mand and this is my sister, Gab,” Jules stated indicating each of us in turn.
“The famous bicycle racers. Preased to meet you.”
“You speak very good English er, Aoi.” I ventured.
“My mother, she is American, she teach me but I a little rusty, nice outfit, Gaby,” she grinned. “So what you girls like to do?”
We started walking as we talked.
“We haven’t seen anything of Japanese culture stuff really,” Mand put in, “can we go to a temple.”
“Okay, you want coffee first?”
The temple, To-ji is certainly impressive, apparently the pagoda is the biggest in Japan, Dad would be impressed, it was first built over 1200 years ago! Aoi had her camera out; part of the deal after all was to get some pictures of us enjoying the sights. Whilst it was cool to visit and it was nice in its own way I felt the same way I do with churches back home, they sometimes have interesting stuff in or around them but the whole religion thing doesn’t do anything for me.
For many of the Japanese visitors, the temple was more than some nice old buildings and I must admit to feeling a little uncomfortable ‘trespassing’ in their space. Aoi tried to explain how it worked but I think she quickly picked up on my and maybe the others ambivalence. It was still only a little after ten when we returned to the street.
“So what you girls do for hobby?”
“Gab does that Cosplay stuff,” my gobalot sister supplied.
“You know manga, Gaby?”
“A bit,” I admitted.
“Hmm, I have idea for later. You want to visit more temple?”
“Is there any chance of seeing a geisha?” Jules put forward.
You could almost see the light bulb over the anime hairstyle.
“Come, we make this a memorable day, some nice pictures for sponsors and fun for you!”
She hailed a cab and after issuing a destination to the driver pulled out her handy and had a couple of excitable conversations as we traversed the streets of old Kyoto. It wasn’t a huge distance and we were soon in Gion, the narrow streets dedicated to everything to do with traditional Japanese culture.
“Let’s walk, maybe we see interesting things.” Our guide suggested.
The streets of Gion are filled with all manner of stuff besides a good number of tourists, however they didn’t have Aoi looking for photo opportunities. Not that we had the money to spend on €500 Kimono’s or samurai swords but it was cool checking the stuff out. Several times we caught glimpses of women in traditional dress, not geisha but wearing it as everyday stuff like you sometimes see dirndls being worn in southern Germany or other touristy bits of Europe.
Whilst there were a few shops clearly playing the tourist number, most were not, the kimonos were for normal Japanese, the art, furniture produced for real homes. It wasn’t all new stuff; there were antique stores where the prices - well if you have to ask you can’t afford it!
“Wait here, girls, I be back quickly,” Aoi told us.
“Sure, we’ll just be in here,” Jules agreed.
‘Here’ was a store selling the sort of stuff you might give as gifts, everything from lucky cats to writing sets and a bunch of stuff in between.
“Pretty cute, huh?” Mand suggested presenting a relatively shapeless wooden doll.
“If you like that sort of thing,” I noted.
“Meanie!” Mand stroked the dolls head, “Don’t listen to her, she plays with cars.”
“They’re called Kokeshi,” the Dark One supplied.
“If you like it so much why don’t you buy one?”
“Have you seen the prices, Gab, it’s nearly ¥5000!”
I did a quick calculation, that’s something like forty euros, I guess it is a fair bit on the other hand it’s obvious Mand covets the thing.
“Bye little one,” Mand placed the Kokeshi back on the shelf before heading to the street, “you coming, Gab?”
“Be there in a mo.”
“So whatcha buy?” Mand enquired when I found her outside with Jules.
“Just something for a friend,” I told her pulling a pack of lacquered chopsticks from the bag I was clutching.
“Let me guess,” Jules put in, “Max?”
“Oh, I wonder where Aoi went?” I questioned to divert their attention.
“Toilet or something,” Jules suggested.
“I guess we’ll just have to wait,” Mand noted.
“Yeah,” I agreed, “hey up there, it’s a geisha!”
“Up past that blue sign,” I pointed up the narrow street Aoi had disappeared up a few minutes earlier.
“Do you reckon we could get a picture?” Mand queried.
I was already reaching for my camera, “Go for it.”
Of course a geisha, even in Gion, always attracts attention from the curious, if it was me I’d be dressing incognito! Well whatever, the woman’s progress along the street was slow even if everyone gave way to her approach, the tight kimono and stilted sandals effectively reducing her stride to pigeon steps. So whilst she wasn’t exactly posing anyone with an image-capturing device could easily capture her likeness.
She had the barest smile on her face; maybe she enjoys all the attention. I framed my shot and clicked the shutter, I’m not sure why but she glanced our way as she approached the crossroads.
“Um, konichi wa.” I offered, for some reason making a sort of curtsey come bow.
She didn’t answer vocally but instead smiled and acknowledged my greeting with an inclination of the head without a break in her pace.
“What was that about?” Goth Gurl asked.
“The bowing and stuff.”
“Dunno, it just seemed appropriate I guess.”
To be truthful I’ve no idea why I did it.
“I never mastered that curtseying stuff,” Mand offered, “so how come you know, Gab?”
“My sister has hidden talents,” Jules chuckled.
“Um Max’s cousin taught me.”
“Gabs here was at the wedding of the year, royalty and all that,” blabbermouth told my friend.
“Now that’s a story I want to hear!” Mand stated.
Not anytime soon, not from me.
“Ah sorry, girls,” Aoi apologised a few minutes later, “just getting something organised for later. You fancy trying kimono?”
“Can we do that?” Mand gushed.
“I know a place, it will be good for photographs too.”
“Count me in,” I agreed.
“Yeah why not,” Jules added.
“Come on then, this will be fun!” Aoi told us.
We made our way a short distance along the street before turning down a gennel with much less foot traffic. It seemed a long way but it was probably no more than fifty metres before we stopped at an ornate doorway. Aoi pulled a bell cord, a speaker crackled into life, our guide partaking of a short discussion before a buzz announced the door being released.
“Come on in,” she instructed.
As is usual in traditional premises we had to swap our outdoor footwear for ‘guest slippers’ once inside. A middle-aged woman greeted us and once again a conversation took place that included a few words of English and glances towards us. The exchange ended and Aoi turned to us.
“So, Amanda and Juliette, if you come with me, I’ll take you through to the dressing room and we’ll get you kimonoed up.”
“What about me?” I queried, I wave of disappointment taking me.
“If you go with Mrs Onajima she will look after you.”
“Okay,” looks like I’m missing out on the dressing up.
The others followed Aoi along a corridor to the right of the entrance.
“Come,” Mrs Onajima prompted as she opened a screen and led the way up a narrow staircase to the floor above. Along another corridor and we paused briefly at a second screen before it was opened from within and I was ushered inside. Whatever I might have imagined my being entertained would be this room certainly wasn’t it!
Once inside the rooms occupant and Mrs O exchanged a few words ending in a smile at me from the young woman.
“Sai,” Mrs Onajima stated, I’m guessing that’s the girls name.
“Er Gaby,” I allowed in return.
“Ah Gabii, Fuku o nugi kudasai.”
“Fuku onuide kudasai,” she insisted.
I grinned back like a loon.
Mrs Onajima took my bags from me, “Youa undress plis.”
Sai took the initiative grabbing my off white fleece and removing it from my person, Mrs O smiling in approval. I’ve no idea what’s going on but I’m pretty sure it’s nothing bad, I didn’t get any bad vibes so far. At least I had an idea of what was being said, they want me to undress I think.
Mrs Onajima took each bit of my clothing and carefully folded it before placing them on a shelf, I wasn’t wearing a lot so I was quickly down to bra and knickers, it’s a good job the room was quite warm.
“Buraja,” Sai prompted.
“Buraja kudasai,” Mrs O added her weight to the instruction before Sai once again reached for me.
They want me to take my bra off! No way! Okay, way, I was soon stood in a pair of panties doing my best cover the girls with my arms as my captors moved stuff about, what the heck is going on. Something wet hit me between the shoulder blades to which I emitted a squeak, before I realised that Sai was actually washing my back, weird.
The washing moved to my front, I allowed grudging access to my chest and had to suppress a giggle or two when attention hit my armpits. Mrs Onajima moved in with warm towels before guiding me to a stool onto which I perched my botty.
“Up o plis,” Mrs O instructed with a demonstration of the required action, I was to raise my arms above my head.
I was somewhat surprised when Sai and the older woman started wrapping my chest, squishing my breasts, not painfully but tight enough that after several turns of the wide cloth the girls may as well not be there. It was only when a chemise was dropped over my head that I realised they were dressing me – it’s a bit intense but it looks like I’m not missing out. It took several minutes but the pair of them systematically clothed me from the inside out until I was clad in several layers including heavy silk tabi socks and a plain cotton kimono. It wasn’t exactly uncomfortable rather it felt different to what I’m used to, I was returned to the seat and their attention went from clothing to cosmetics.
There not being a mirror I’ve no idea what they were doing, if I had to guess I’d say they were doing a full makeover. When my hair was put in a tight bun it confused me a bit, Sai continued to add cosmetics not just to my face but ears, (she removed my earrings first) and neck too. The two of them surveyed their work before seemingly agreeing that they were done. Mrs Onajima disappeared behind me then I felt what I guess is a wig being pulled into place.
“Utsukushidesu!” Sai exclaimed.
“Hai,” Mrs O agreed, “ima kimono.”
I recognised that, I get to wear a kimono after all this farting about.
I was stood up again; the cotton robe removed then a predominantly red but extravagantly decorated kimono placed around me before adding a wide sash and something at the small of my back. Sai knelt down and put traditional style toe sandals on my feet, which apparently had me finished.
“Gabii,” Mrs Onajima got my attention, “thisa.”
She spent a couple of minutes demonstrating what expression I should have on my face, how I should stand and even how to walk in this elaborate outfit.
“Go Sai,” the senior tormentor instructed.
Let me tell you, descending stairs in a tightly fitted kimono is not easy, I needed Sai to steady me once or twice. Once on the ground floor my guide led me to another sliding screen behind which I could hear my sister, Mand and Aoi chatting. I’ve seen this sort of thing in manga; I at least had some idea of the score now.
Sai had me wait to one side before knocking.
“Haitte kudasai!” Aoi’s voice rang out.
Sai slid the screen open enough to enter, closing it behind her. There was a short exchange, Aoi asking the others if they wanted tea.
When Sai returned she came to me, “shush, onegai ichi bun,” she indicated I should wait for how long, a minute, then knock.
She left me in the corridor, let’s do this right.
I could hear them chatting inside, “This is pretty cool, pity Gabs is missing it,” Mand stated.
I knelt by the door and gently knocked on the screen.
“Haitte kudasai!” Aoi’s voice rang out once again.
Maddy Bell 05.11.15
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