One of the things you should absolutely do when visiting Japan is to try on their traditional full-length garment called as kimono.
TRIVIA: A kimono is a beautiful and elegant full-length robe that’s used to be worn by the Japanese on a daily basis; but nowadays, it is mostly only being worn by the locals during graduation programs, tea ceremonies, festivals and other formal events. Nevertheless, Japan’s geisha and sumo wrestlers still wear it almost every day. Now, the term ‘kimono’ literally translates to “garment” with ki (着) which means “to wear” and mono (物) which means “thing” or “object”.
There are different types of kimono such as furisode (worn by unmarried women), yukata (informal wear for summer use) and many others. But as a standard, kimono are straight T-shape robes that falls to the ankles along with attached collars and long, wide sleeves. They are customarily wrapped around the body, always with the left side over the right (except when dressing the dead for burial) and are secured by a sash called as an obi, which is tied at the back. To finish it off, it is worn with traditional footwear (zōri or geta) and split-toe socks (tabi).
That being said, it can be quite a rare sight to witness a crowd of Japanese people wearing kimono on the streets, unless there’s an event. In fact, if you see someone dressed up in a kimono in public, that person would most likely be an expat or a tourist! With that in mind, as a non-Japanese person, it IS possible for you to put on a kimono, walk around with it for a day, and take lots and LOTS of photos — and you can do this simply by going to kimono rental shops that are spread out all over Japan.
The quintessential place to rent and wear a kimono would be in the ancient city of Kyoto; but if you’re short on time and can only explore the capital of Tokyo, don’t fret! Because much like what I did, simply head over to the district of Asakusa and make full use of its picturesque shrine and temple as well as its olden Edo era buildings and surroundings that serve as perfect backdrops for your pictures.
After all, I rented a kimono for a day while I was in Asakusa, Tokyo during my first trip to Japan and it was an experience that I will never forget and that I absolutely recommend for you to try alone, with friends, with family, or with your partner!.
[box_title class=”” subtitle=”” subtitle_font_size=”15″ font_size=”23″ border_color=”#ed2665″ animation_delay=”0″ font_alignment=”center” border=”around” animate=”” ]How to Rent a Kimono for a Day in Asakusa, Tokyo[/box_title]
» Where to rent a kimono
Finding a good kimono rental shop can be tricky if you don’t speak Japanese since many of the owners in Asakusa — or just Japanese people in general — don’t speak English fluently, or at all. Rest assured, there are shops (like those I will list below) that do have employees who can speak decent English.
But what place do I highly recommend? A rental shop called YAE. I picked them because when I was browsing for rental providers online, I noticed that YAE was providing more luxurious and sophisticated-looking kimono ensembles and designs compared to the other rental shops in the area (it was complete with ribbon obi, decorative strings, etc.). To illustrate:
What’s more is that a matching tote bag, zori (traditional Japanese slippers), tabi (socks), a complete hair styling session, and several hair accessories were already included in their base price. Also, its close proximity to the Sensoji Temple was a big plus for me!
Website to book: Klook
Hours: 9:30AM to 5:30PM daily
Google Maps: Near the train station [link] or you can also see this illustrated map of directions
If, however, you want to check out the other kimono rental shops in the area who offer other options on kimono (but often with simpler/modern design), click the (+) symbol below to expand the following section:
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[box_title class=”” subtitle=”” subtitle_font_size=”15″ font_size=”15″ border_color=”#ed2665″ animation_delay=”0″ font_alignment=”center” border=”middle” animate=”” ]Other Kimono Designs from YAE[/box_title]
Now… please don’t think that you can just buy your own kimono and proceed to put it on by yourself! First things first, a full kimono set customarily costs a fortune (a lot of Japanese people actually end up renting too since it’s a lot cheaper; plus, they rarely use it as well). Secondly, a kimono is an extremely intricate piece of clothing to put on given that it involves a LOT of layers and knots; so, you can’t just wear it whimsically without any prior experience and knowledge. Besides, someone typically helps put on a kimono for another person anyway, and these professionals usually take classes to learn how. Truth be told, one of the reasons why the Japanese rarely wear kimono nowadays is because they can’t put it on by themselves.
With all these factors considered, it’s truly best that you head on over to a professional Japanese kimono rental shop in order to get a hassle-free experience that will save you time, effort, and money — and with the help of this guide post, it’s my hope that the overall process will be smooth for you!
» The cost and duration of the kimono rental
When it comes to YAE, the cost of their regular kimono rental is as follows…
– ¥3,000 ($28) for kids 3-6 years old
– ¥4,880 ($45) for kids 7-10 years old
– ¥5,980~ yen ($55~) for females
– ¥5,680~ yen ($53~) for males
– ¥5,280~ yen ($50~) each if you come as a group of 3
– ¥11,780~ yen ($110~) total discount for 2 females
– ¥11,460~ yen ($107~) total discount for a couple set
– ¥15,660~ yen ($145~) total for a family set of 2 adults and 1 child 3-10 years old
– ¥23,000~ yen ($215~) for the luxurious furisode attire
If you book with Klook, you get a discounted rate. And as such, you will get the following in return…
- Complete kimono ensemble for men and women [small to large sizes] and children [sizes under 140cm in height].)
- Staff help to assist you in putting up your kimono (they can speak English).
- FREE clothing accessories, tote bag, complicated hair styling (of your choosing), and elaborate hair ornaments.
- In winter, a coat or haori and fur shawl is provided for FREE (other stores charge for this — the photo on the right shows a fur shawl on top of the kimono).
The duration: With the above regular kimono rental rates, the shop will allow you to walk around Asakusa in your kimono for a day. You only need to return on 5:30PM to change and give the kimono back (if you go beyond that time, you will be charged). Otherwise, do you want to rent a kimono overnight instead? Returning it on the next day costs ¥6,340~ ($59~), just inquire with the store once there.
» How to book your reservation
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It’s simple and easy! Just go to Klook to book your kimono rental request.
To date, they have several time slots available (since dressing up in a kimono takes time), and they are:
On the checkout page, please note the gender or ages of participants if in case you are booking a couple or group package. Once everything is paid and booked with, you will receive your e-voucher. You just need to print this and show it to YAE on your scheduled date.
It’s possible to walk in to YAE with a reservation — BUT, that is quite risky given the number of daily customers that they have. You might either wait a long time or not be accommodated at all. So it’s always best to book online beforehand!
» My experience and tips
The staff at YAE were friendly, efficient and patient — so the overall process from rental “check-in” to “check-out” was seamless. Here are some tips to take note of…
- Arrival: Come as early as 9:30AM so that you have ‘first dibs’ on the array of kimono design choices — this is to also maximize your rental time. Take note that it starts to get crowded by 10:00AM.
- You don’t need to bring anything when you arrive because everything you need is included in the rental plan (kimono, obi, undergarment, bag to carry when wearing kimono, zori (sandals), tabi (socks), etc.). But for your clothing, if you come in the summer, it’s best that you wear a thin undergarment or a tank top because of the heat. Do NOT wear collared clothing as it will get in the way of the kimono. Whereas in winter, it’s preferable that you wear thin thermal clothing such as heat-tech shirts leggings to keep you warm.
- As for your belongings, YAE can store it for you and they will give you a number tag in exchange. However, it’s best that you keep your valuables with you — but no worries, they will be providing you with a small matching tote bag for your kimono so you can store it in that.
- Choosing a kimono: The staff will usually give you recommendations but you’re absolutely free to pick the design that you want. For the ‘classic’ look, picking a red kimono is a great choice — or if it’s during cherry blossom season, pick the designs that have sakura in them or anything that’s light-colored. Anyhow, it’s up to you!
- Take note that putting on a kimono rental is a meticulous process (takes about 30 minutes) and you will find that it requires a LOT of layers and knots — so yes, it can get tight; therefore, always let your dresser know if it’s getting hard to breath. Putting on all these layers and knots are an art in itself because it’s important to not only keep the kimono’s shape, but to also ensure that all the robes won’t fall apart nor open once you start walking around. Now, it helps to know that this is how a kimono really is — it won’t show your curves and you might look stuffy. Unlike other dresses, this is a typical feature for wearing a kimono because apparently, the traditional view of beauty in women depicts a straight figure with clothing that is elaborate and which constricts their footsteps. Additionally, it is believed that this style originally gave men the chance to wonder what’s ‘underneath’.
- Footwear (zori) is provided with your kimono rental along with special Japanese socks called as tabi.
- You can opt to bring along a traditional Japanese umbrella that’s great for photos for an additional fee of ¥500 yen.
- You’re also free to choose from any of YAE’s tote bags to match your kimono rental and then put inside your valuables (e.g. camera, money, etc.)
- Hair & makeup: You will need to do your own makeup, but you don’t need to worry about your hair because styling it is included in your kimono rental fee. They actually have a separate floor for changing into your kimono attire, and this same floor has the hair styling section. You’re free to show them a photo of the hairstyle that you want; otherwise, they have a photo pamphlet of different hair styles that you can choose from. They also have various ornamental hair accessories that you can pick from.
- Kimono rental return: Make full use of the time allotted to you (if you return earlier than your end time, don’t expect an appropriated refund). Additionally, always remember to take good care of your kimono rental. Rest assured, there is no cleaning charge for soil due to spilled food, a splash of mud, abrasion, etc. So you need not worry about soiling the kimono rental when you are wearing it on a rainy day for example. However, in the case of irreparable stains such as oil-based paint, etc. or damage (cigarette burns, etc.), YAE may require compensation in the amount of 5,000 yen (exclusive of tax).
Also, one of the amazing perks that you get when you do a kimono rental for a day is that you turn into some sort of mini celebrity. The moment that I stepped out of the shop and walked a few meters away, some other tourists started to take pictures of me AND with me! Several Japanese people also started smiling and throwing compliments my way — well… I don’t know exactly what they said but I did pick up the words kirei (beautiful), utsukushoii (pretty), kawaii (cute) and sugoi (amazing) from their speech. Additionally, some old grandpas and grandmas even gave me a thumbs up!
NOTE: If you’re a white or black gaijin (foreigner), the attention and picture-taking spree will surely double!
TIPS: When walking, don’t take wide strides; revel in small in-toe steps. When you sit down and stand up, put your hands and feet together with your back straight — actually, it’s not hard to keep your back straight because the stiff obi helps keep it that way. As for when you’re taking photos, make your stance a bit diagonal in order to slightly show your obi’s back bow as well as your hair accessories. It also helps to put one foot on top of the other as you lean a bit backwards.
[box_title class=”” subtitle=”” subtitle_font_size=”15″ font_size=”15″ border_color=”#ed2665″ animation_delay=”0″ font_alignment=”center” border=”middle” animate=”” ]FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)[/box_title]
◘◘ Can males rent a kimono too?
Yes of course! It helps to note though that a male kimono is more simple and subdued, and if you’re really tall, there might be fewer choices on the kimono.
◘◘ Are there any other traditional Japanese clothing that I can rent to wear?
In summer which is during the months of June, July, and August, kimono rental shops like YAE usually rent out yukata which is basically like a kimono but a lot lighter and thinner in material.
Another traditional Japanese clothing you can try on is a ‘hakama‘. This is often worn by shrine maidens or by students during their graduation ceremony (price would be around ¥10,000 yen or $95~). If you want a more ‘luxurious’ kimono clothing, try the ‘furisode‘ (¥23,000 yen or $215~) that is distinguishable by its longer sleeves, worn by young unmarried women in Japan. If you’re married, there is the ‘homongi‘ (¥19,000 yen or $177~).
For a more special kind of ‘dress up’ experience, there are other rental shops like Studio Nanairo that can transform you into an oiran (traditional Japanese courtesan) or a geisha (traditional Japanese entertainer; but this service is mostly done in Kyoto).
◘◘ Is it cultural appropriation to wear a kimono in Japan as a foreigner? Or to dress up as a geisha or oiran?
Not at all. The Japanese never refer to it as cultural appropriation because they deem it more as cultural ‘appreciation’. Besides, they like it a lot when other nationalities take an interest in their culture, customs, and clothing (which is much like South Korea’s attitude towards foreigners renting their traditional clothing called as hanbok). This is the reason why makeover studios and kimono rental places are so popular in Japan! My experience also serves as proof because as I’ve mentioned above, a lot of Japanese people walked up to me to appreciate the fact that I was wearing a kimono. Some of them even gave me a thumbs up!
◘◘ I’m very tall. Will there be problems if I wear a kimono?
For women, YAE generally have kimono pieces that can fit a height of up to 180cm; whereas for men, up to 195cm. If you’re even taller, it’s still possible to accommodate you but there might be fewer designs to choose from or that it might be a bit short.
◘◘ I’m currently pregnant, can I still wear a kimono?
It will depend, take note that the maximum waistline they can do is at 120cm. Generally though, they don’t recommend dressing up when you’re pregnant because the robe will be knotted on real tight, and it might not be comfortable for you.
◘◘ Is it possible to rent even on a rainy day?
Absolutely! YAE will just make sure that you wear a kimono that won’t drag along the ground.
◘◘ What if the kimono gets soiled while I’m using it?
There is no cleaning charge for soil due to spilled food, a splash of mud, abrasion, etc. So you need not worry about soiling the kimono when you are wearing on a rainy day. However, in the case of irreparable stains such as oil-based paint, etc. or damage (cigarette burns, etc.), YAE may require compensation in the amount of 5,000 yen (exclusive of tax).
◘◘ After changing into my kimono, can I leave my stuff at the rental shop?
Yes, you can leave your luggage in the rental shop and they will segregate it in bags as well as give you a tag for it. However, make sure you bring your valuables with you by putting them in the matching tote bag that they will be providing.
◘◘ Is there anything that I should bring to the rental shop?
No, you do not need to bring anything since all of the items that you will need are already available and provided for in the rental shop. In summer YAE suggests wearing thin underwear such as a tank top because of the heat (do NOT wear collared or high-collared shirts), and in winter they recommend that you wear thin thermal clothing such as heat-tech shirts, which have excellent heat retention as well as leggings to keep you warm.
◘◘ Are there any other things I can do while wearing my kimono?
Apart from the fact that you can wear the kimono and stroll around Asakusa for a day, YAE also provides a photography service (starts at ¥11,000 yen) and rickshaw service (starts at ¥3,000 yen). You can also book a separate rickshaw tour in Asakusa.
◘◘ Can I take my time choosing a kimono?
Sure thing! But as a courtesy, make sure you don’t spend more than 20 minutes looking through their kimono designs.
◘◘ Can I select my obi or kimono accessories? How about my hair accessories and the kind of hairstyle I want?
The staff of the rental shop will usually suggest matching accessories for you; but of course, you’re absolutely free to choose what you want to put on your kimono and hair. If you want a certain hairstyle, it’s best that you prepare a photo of it so that you can show it as a reference to the staff people — otherwise, they provide photos/guides on usual hairstyles used on which you can choose from.
◘◘ How long does it take them to dress me up in a kimono?
It normally takes about 40 to 50 minutes for women (including hairstyling) and 20 minutes for men.
◘◘ Can they do my makeup too?
YAE doesn’t usually provide it but some of the rental shops can do your make up. Just ask them about it, and I believe it will cost about ¥4,000 yen (Php 1,700~ / $35~). If you ask me though, I think it’s best that you just do your own make-up.
◘◘ What if I want to extend for one more day?
Yes, YAE has a ‘next-day return plan’ costing ¥6,340~ (or Php 3,090~ or $59~). In case the option is no longer available online, you can talk to them in store.
◘◘ Can I buy their kimono?
Most of the rental shops sell their kimono, so it doesn’t hurt to ask.
» PRE-TRAVEL GUIDE
[box_section icon_size=”80″ color=”#ed2665″ circle_size=”0″ color_circle=”#797979″ title=”” class=”box-sections” link=”” link_title=”” animation_delay=”0″ layout=”horizontal” icon_type=”theme-icon” icon_theme=”plane” title_size=”” animate=”” ]Where to get the best flight deals to Japan?
For the best flight deals, I recommend searching through Skyscanner.
[box_section icon_size=”80″ color=”#ed2665″ circle_size=”0″ color_circle=”#797979″ title=”” class=”box-sections” link=”” link_title=”” animation_delay=”0″ layout=”horizontal” icon_type=”theme-icon” icon_theme=”suitcase” title_size=”” animate=”” ]Where to stay?
Luxury: The Gate Hotel Asakusa Kaminarimon / Mid-Range: Hotel MyStays Asakusa or AirBnB / Budget: K’s House Tokyo Oasis – Quality Hostel[/box_section]
[box_section icon_size=”80″ color=”#ed2665″ circle_size=”0″ color_circle=”#797979″ title=”” class=”box-sections” link=”” link_title=”” animation_delay=”0″ layout=”horizontal” icon_type=”theme-icon” icon_theme=”road” title_size=”” animate=”” ]How to get to Asakusa in Tokyo?
The closest station to the kimono rental shops is Asakusa Station and it is easily accessible via Ginza Line or Asakusa Line. If you need further help, just use the directions feature in Google Maps (signified by a blue icon with an arrow inside it) — I find this as a very helpful tool if I want to reach a certain place from a particular location. (However, Google Maps doesn’t work offline if you want routes or transportation schedules, so I recommend that you get a pocket WiFi or a SIM Card to stay connected online).[/box_section]
[box_section icon_size=”80″ color=”#ed2665″ circle_size=”0″ color_circle=”#797979″ title=”” class=”box-sections” link=”” link_title=”” animation_delay=”0″ layout=”horizontal” icon_type=”theme-icon” icon_theme=”comments” title_size=”” animate=”” ]Helpful Japanese phrases
Hello: Konnichiwa (Kohn-nee-chee-wah)
Thank you (normal): Arigatō. (Ah-REE-gah-tohh)
Thank you (less formal): Arigatō gozaimas (Ah-REE-gah-tohh goh-zahy-mahs)
Thank you (informal): Dōmo (DOHH-moh)
Yes: Hai (Hai)
No: Iie (E-eh)
Goodbye (long term): Sayōnara (Sah-yohh-nah-rah)
Goodbye (informal): Ja ne (Jahh neh)
Excuse me: Sumimasen (Soo-mee-mah-SEN)
I’m sorry: Gomen nasai (Goh-men-nah-sahy)
Is there someone here who speaks English?: Dareka eigo ga hanasemasu ka? (Dah-reh-kah ey-goh gah hah-nah-seh-mahs kah?)
Help!: Tasukete! (Tahs-keh-teh!)[/box_section]
[call_two href=”https://iamaileen.com/tips-how-to-japan-visa-application-tourist-philippines-requirements/” colortext=”#686868″ background_color=”#ffffff” font_size=”20″ label_button=”Click here to find out how!” label_size=”25″ class=”call-to-action-two” animation_delay=”0″ animate=”” ]Do you need to apply for a Japan Tourist Visa?[/call_two].
[box_title class=”” subtitle=”” subtitle_font_size=”15″ font_size=”20″ border_color=”#ed2665″ animation_delay=”0″ font_alignment=”center” border=”middle” animate=”” ]OTHER TOP TOKYO TOURS & ACTIVITIES[/box_title]
Mount Fuji Classic Tour — with 4 other stops.
Tokyo Disneyland or DisneySea Embrace the wonder and fantasy of Disney!
Robot Restaurant Show One of Tokyo’s top attractions for years!
[box_title class=”” subtitle=”” subtitle_font_size=”15″ font_size=”23″ border_color=”#ed2665″ animation_delay=”0″ font_alignment=”center” border=”around” animate=”” ]Overall[/box_title]
If you’re looking for a unique activity that will totally immerse you in the Japan travel experience, renting a kimono and strolling around in it for a day is something that you should NOT miss!
After all, it makes for a wonderful memory and a great opportunity to take amazing pictures in the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’. Enjoy!