A beautiful, lustrous kimono is the perfect souvenir to bring home from Japan.
As you may know there are kimono retail stores and there are kimono rental stores in Japan. Keep in mind most retail stores don’t rent and lots of rental stores don’t sell (although some do.)
Renting a kimono is another great idea especially for visiting temples and shrines. I saw many Japanese women dressed in kimonos when visiting temples, especially at Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto.
When it comes to buying a kimono they can be expensive but they don’t have to be. While most stores sell tailored kimonos made just for you, there are also shops that sell used kimonos that look like new for very good prices. Then there are shops that sell brand new ready to wear kimonos that often have a sales rack off to one side, where you might find brand new kimonos marked 50% off or more.
Everywhere I went in Japan I always kept my eye open for the best place to shop for a kimono. I found what I think is the absolute best location and along the way a couple top contenders as well.
A top runner up, the Harajuku area of Shibuya, Tokyo has some good kimono stores scattered about.
One shop in Harajuku, is a little hard to find, as it is set back from the front shops that line Takeshita St (the main shopping street) with little stairs going up. If you keep your eyes on the look out hopefully you will see it. This shop had shelves and shelves of beautiful used kimonos, with fairly decent prices. I found the majority here to range from 50 to 90 US dollars. There was also a high end designer store a block or two off of Takeshita St, called Kimono by Nadeshika (this store also has a branch at the main train station in Kanazawa). Selling brand new gorgeous kimonos, (they had these absolutely divine kimonos made out of delicate lace, oh my goodness!) this store had both tailoring and ready made. While most of the Kimonos here were a bit of a splurge, with the average price being around 300 dollars, (the dreamy lace ones were $500) they also had sales racks and when I was there some were marked down as low as 60 and 80 dollars.
The closest contender for best kimono shopping is the Shinjuku area of Tokyo. Most of the shops are within relative proximity to Shinjuku station. There is a wonderful shop here that has both rental and retail kimonos as well as a great selection of Yukatas (an unlined and lighter version of the kimono). The store Fuku Fuku Recycled Kimono, is a little further away but worth the walk. Fuku Fuku is a super fantastic used kimono store with fabulous deals and prices. (Be aware there are several kimono shops around Shinjuku and not all of them are great.)
One downside to all the runner up shops is that they are scattered about among the chaos of highly congested shopping districts, which can make them difficult to find.
What is the number one best place to buy a kimono, to take home, for yourself or as a gift?
Asakusa, Tokyo! There is a little street here with kimono stores all lined up together, one after another and very easy to find. Just south of Senso-ji Temple and slightly west, called Orange St.
The shops here range from high end kimono tailors to, more importantly, tiny little shops that sell ‘like new’ used kimonos and yukatas for amazing prices! I bought a ‘hardly’ used kimono here for 10 dollars! It was so so beautiful. The Obi (the wide sash/belts for the kimono) were sold separately but this is almost always the case with used Kimono. The one I picked out to match, (or rather contrast) with my kimono was another 10 dollars. Don’t forget to grab a few simple ties as well, they go under the obi and they’re only a few cents or so but you’ll need them. Most stores will probably give you a few for free when you buy a Kimono.
You may have noticed (with the exception of Kanazawa train station) all the recommendations are in Tokyo. I did see a fair number of kimono shops in Kyoto as well. While I definitely recommend Kyoto as the best place for renting a kimono, when it comes to buying, the prices in Kyoto always seemed a little too high for what you were getting.
I hope this helps take the stress out of finding good stores so all that’s left is to have fun shopping!
Now you just have to plan parties so you can wear your kimono when you get back home 🙂
Featured image at Top: (cropped) Photo by Yohei Shimomae on Unsplash