It took me about a year to plan everything out for my trip to Japan in 2013. Although I didn’t need that much preparation, it gave me time to choose my host families carefully. While I was searching for things to do in order to plan my itinerary, I remember looking at pictures of women wearing a kimono, the luxurious Japanese traditional clothing.I’ve always thought kimono were beautiful. So before coming to Japan, I told myself “I want to try one”.
“Really?”, answered my then-friend, now-boyfriend Hitomi, when I told him about it at the beginning of my trip.
“I think it would suit you”, he said.
Then, slowly but surely, my trip passed and I kind of abandonned the idea.
I didn’t know where to go to try on this type of clothing, I couldn’t speaking good Japanese, and I knew it was very expensive if you wanted to buy a kimono.
But then one day, one week before I had to go back in Canada, Hitomi said “We are going somewhere today”.
“Where?”, I asked.
“It’s a surprise”, he said, smiling.
And what a surprise it was.
He remembered my wish to try on a kimono and had contacted two sweet women in charge of a kimono and yukata shop to arrange a meeting. They took great care of us; they let us choose our kimono (but I had to choose in the “large” area, since I’m a bit tall for a girl), and then made my hair and dressed me up. I was glad that Hitomi was not only there, but was also going to wear the male version of kimono with me. I was feeling a bit shy. I remember thinking “It looks like we’re going to marry or something” when I first saw him in a kimono by my side.
But it was awesome.
There are many layers in a kimono. I had to put undergarments before the women arranged it to fit my body. It was tight. Like, really tight. When they put on the obi, which is the wide sash that they placed just under the breasts, I had to stand straight. It actually helped me walking gracefully with a straight back — I just couldn’t bend it. They also gave us basket bags (kinchaku) to replace our own handbags, and tabi, the split-toe socks, along with flat sandals called kōri. I kind of have long feet, so the sandals were slightly too small for me. In Japan, when I wanted to buy shoes, I had to go in the Large or XL area. Japanese girls sure have small feet!
(The beige thing behind my back is the “obi”)
Walking with a kimono
I’m the kind of girl who does very long steps when walking. But with a kimono, that’s just impossible. You got to make really tiny steps, or else you’ll trip and fall (or break something). You have to stand straight and be elegant. In Japan, that means being graceful and moving quietly without making a sound with your footsteps.
For men, the kimono is really loose and looks comfortable, so you don’t have to take care of making small steps (lucky you!).
What’s fun with this kimono place is that it was a rental; we could wear ours all day until 19:00. So after we got all dressed up, the two women took pictures of us, and Hitomi and I went off seeing the “Seisonkaku Villa” and the gardens around it along with the Kanazawa Castle park on the other side of the street.
It was truly beautiful. Japanese architecture and gardens are really breathtaking. If you have the chance to stop by Kanazawa, I highly recommend going to those gardens!
Technical aspects of that day
Enough of the lovey-dovey part! Here’s the informations you might want to know.
What’s the name of the kimono shop?: it’s 金沢きもの花恋 (Kanazawa Kimono Karen). You can check out the access if you want to go there. It’s located in Ishikawa prefecture. They also have a blog for more pictures of people wearing their kimono and yukata with a cute story of each customers (in Japanese).
How much did it cost?: since Hitomi paid everything for me (isn’t he the sweetest?), I didn’t know how much it cost until today — for the sake of this blogpost, I had to know! If you go on their website, it says that you can wear a kimono during one day (until 19:00 PM) for 4,500 yen (~50$CAN). I realized it’s kind of expensive, but then again, you won’t wear a kimono everyday of your life — and get pampered by sweet women at the same time.
As I said at the beginning of this post, they also did my hair. I guess it enters in the price with the kimono (4,500 yen). It was really cute! Depending if you have long or short hair, they will do the updo that is the most suitable for your hair. One of the women chose an updo and showed me a picture asking if I agreed with her. It was pretty neat.
What if I don’t speak Japanese?: I highly doubt they can speak English. I was lucky to have Hitomi with me, so he was doing all the talking. They asked me some questions in Japanese that I was able to answer, but they never talked to me in English. So I suggest being able to speak at least a basic level of Japanese (or go with a handsome Japanese man to help you out!).
Additional information: They also have yukata, which is the summer version of a kimono, available during June, July and August.
Did you ever wear a kimono or a yukata? Where did you go and how much did it cost you?