My Day at the Ota City Tourist Information Center
Friday 11th December saw the official opening of the brand new Ota City Tourist Information Center in Keikyu Kamata Station. Since I had been invited to attend the opening ceremony in a furisode (long-sleeved kimono), I started my day early at a hair salon, having my hair styled in a traditional up-do with flowery ornaments, and then headed to the station bubbling with excitement to wear my very first kimono. The kimono expert who padded, tied, folded and tightened me into this amazingly complicated garment over the span of a hour was a top-class pro, and just a lovely lady in general. She talked me through the importance of each step in the dressing process, and made sure I was comfortable throughout. Kimonos, especially of the long-sleeved variety, can easily feel heavy, uncomfortable, and even dangerously tight if not put on correctly, but her experience ensured that I felt at ease despite all the layers, belts and ties piled on top of me! It was also fascinating to watch how carefully she arranged each layer of clothing, and I feel I can now appreciate the immense effort that goes into successfully pulling off this traditional Japanese look. All in all, it was a wonderful experience!
Now fully decked out in my lovely kimono, I then received the valuable opportunity to participate in a tea ceremony in a charming tatami room within the Tourist Information Center itself! The kimono-clad older ladies who poured the tea and proffered delicious little sweets alongside it were an absolute delight to watch. Their meticulously precise bows, seated seiza posture, and their handling of the tea utensils were at all times poised and elegant, matching the traditional setting and atmosphere of the age-old ceremony. The ladies also explained the correct gestures that we should make, and how we should consume the tea and sweets. Concentrating solely on the flavor of the tea and the movements of the ceremony, it was easy to forget that I was in the middle of a busy train station! It was a blissful moment of calm in an otherwise hectic place, and I felt refreshed and relaxed by the time I stepped down from the little tea room.
If the kimono and tea experiences weren’t enough to solidify the center’s standing as a must-visit spot for tourists in Ota, they also stock oodles of other goodies and reading materials to peruse, buy and admire! On the left of the information desk is a wall lined with local sweets, savory foods and drinks available for bargain prices – my personal recommendation is the melt-in-your-mouth Kamata manju sweet and Ota specialty nori seaweed tin. At the front of the center is glass case filled with fascinating products such as glassware and mathematical art which are unique to Ota City. Multilingual brochures and pamphlets filled with the latest Tokyo tourist info can also be found lining the back wall, and slightly heavier-duty books and magazines on numerous aspects of Japanese culture (clothing, cuisine, bonsai etc.) are displayed for visitors to purchase or else flick through at their leisure on the tables provided. Even having lived in Ota City for several months, I learned a surprising amount here about Ota’s specialties, hidden gems, and delicious goodies!
In summary, if you happen to be in the vicinity of Keikyu Kamata Station in the near future, get on down to the Tourist Information Center for some top class tourist guidance and cultural experiences!
Ota City CIR (Coordinator for International Relations)
The content of this article does not reflect the official opinion of Ota City. Responsibility for the information and views expressed in the article lies entirely with the author.