Being fitted and dressed in a kimono is an experience I didn’t want to miss in Japan. I’ve always adored the elegant silhouette. I also really loved that Yuna from Final Fantasy X had elements of the kimono designed in her game outfit. This was the top of my checklist of things to experience and I made sure that The F Man was aware of my intention to totter around, wrapped in layer after layer of patterned fabric. Here’s everything I’ve learned about renting a kimono in Kyoto.
Table of Contents
- Where to Rent
- How Much Does Renting a Kimono in Kyoto Cost
- The Kimono Dressing Process
- How Long Was the Kimono Dressing Process
It’s not uncommon for Japanese women visiting Kyoto to admire the scenic sights in their finest traditional threads as part of a cultural experience.
I joined them in renting a kimono and went to visit shrines and temples in the “city of a thousand shrines” for a day. I have to say, it was entirely worth it.
It added to my appreciation of being in this ancient preserved city that used to be the imperial capital of old Japan for over a thousand years.
All You Need to Know About Renting a Kimono in Kyoto
Where to Rent
You can rent your kimono from one of the many kimono rental shops around Kyoto. There are plenty of such rental shops near places of interest, especially at Gion. At Gion, there are lots of signs that will draw attention to the shops and you won’t miss them. You can walk in to rent, but it is advisable, especially if you’re renting on a busy weekend or Japanese public holiday period, to make an appointment and book a time slot for your kimono dressing.
I personally rented from Okamoto Kimono which caters to kimono rentals for tourists. It has an English-speaking staff member and also a detailed English website. This can truly be a lifesaver when you’re rushing to get lots packed into a day of sightseeing.
Okamoto Kimono’s Kiyomizuzaka Store is near Kiyomizu-dera which is a fantastic spot to start exploring Kyoto. It’s near a number of popular temples and shrines and isn’t difficult to locate at all.
Okamoto Kimonos Kiyomizuzaka Shop Address
- 着物 岡本 清水坂店, 605-0862京都市東山区, 清水2丁目237-1-1
- Okamoto Kimonos Kiyomizuzaka Shop, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto, 605-0862, 2-237-1-1 Kiyomizu
- Open Daily from 9 am to 8 pm (Last kimono return by 7.30 pm)
How Much Does Renting a Kimono in Kyoto Cost
At Okamoto Kimonos, you can opt for a number of rental plans to best suit your budget. All plans include a kimono dressing service.
- Set Plan ( ¥2,980)
Includes a limited selection of kimonos to choose from
- Select Plan ( ¥3,980)
Includes 300 kimonos to choose from
- Full Outfit Plan ( ¥4,980)
Includes 600 kimonos to choose from even designer kimonos and intricately embroidered designs
There are also Special Size Plans for small individuals under 150cm, tall individuals over 170cm, and heavy-set individuals.
For reference, I opted for the full outfit attire plan and the hair styling service at an additional ¥500. The hair styling service is amazing value for money. The staff at Okamoto Kimonos will style your hair. There are three options for cute updos with curls, curls to the side, and kabuse which is a formal-looking updo. You also get a hair accessory of your choice to place in your hair.
Do note that all prices stated here are not inclusive of 8% consumption tax.
The Kimono Dressing Process
The whole process of kitsuke, the art of kimono dressing, was an eye-opener. It’s not as simple as it looks. It actually takes a series of deft folds and wraps for both the kimono to get it to fit the height of the wearer. Then comes the obi. There are so many sashes that are tied around the waist to secure the kimono and it’s many folds before the obi belt goes on as well.
Pick a Kimono
As I went with the Full Outfit Plan, I got the full works. I was given the freedom to pick ANY kimono I wanted from the racks and racks of beautiful fabric filled with gorgeous prints.
I had so much to choose from, I was lost. Thankfully, the manager sensed this and came over to help me pick out a stunning kimono, plus an inner piece called the juban. She would pull items out from the shelves and racks and ask if I liked the combination, and if I didn’t, she would offer an alternative. That was really a relief.
Choose an Obi-Belt and Bag
The obi belt cinches around the waist in an elaborate almost origami-like folding process. It comes in many designs and typically is two-sided with two different colors. I even got to choose my Obi accessory called the Obi-Jime (which looks like a cord to tie around your waist on top of the Obi belt). Finally, I had to pick a small traditional bag to carry my essential belongings in.
There are many different wrapping styles for the obi. If you have a particular style you prefer, you might want to let the staff dressing you know.
How Long Was the Kimono Dressing Process
I was done in about 30 minutes, which is super fast if you consider that there was so much for her to work on. My hair was done in another 10 minutes. Hot rollers first, some magical combing, hair spray, and my hair was set in a side-swept ‘do with gorgeous curls. I picked my hair accessory without an additional charge and was on my way.
The print I selected was intimidating to me at first. I thought I looked strange in such a light color with large floral motifs. However, the result was jaw-dropping. While not colors or prints I would wear on most occasions, it looked pretty darn amazing and flattered my skin tone. When I look at the pictures I took, I really appreciate Japanese aesthetic sensibilities. It’s amazing how every fabric, print, and accessory just goes together to create this artistic masterpiece.
Now I’m ready to go off on my little walking route of attractions in Kyoto!