Timeless, alluring and elegant, the kimono is truly one of the most iconic symbols of Kyoto and the rest of Japan. For hundreds of years, this classy garment had been the everyday wear for most Japanese. Today, these fashionable garments are often associated with major life events as well as certain Japanese classical arts like the tea ceremony.
So, are you ready to don a stylish and intricate kimono in Kyoto? Before you rent one, though, spend a moment reading these nuggets of information about this traditional Japanese garment.
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What’s the main purpose of wearing a kimono?
Wearing a kimono is a 1,000-year old tradition meant to cover the body in a rather formal way. Traditionally, these Japanese garments are available in one size only, and it’s pretty difficult to learn how to wear one on properly.
The Japanese, if they wanted, could have included buttons to these traditional garments. But, they want to preserve their age-old tradition, so they didn’t add any buttons to the kimonos.
In Japanese, ki-mono basically means “to wear”. And, when the kimono first emerged, it was used as an undergarment for the aristocrats in Japan.
Do Japanese still wear kimonos?
Yukatas are, for the most part, worn by youngsters as they watch the splashy fireworks during summer. You’ll, however, rarely spot a Japanese wearing a kimono in Tokyo’s downtown area.
In Kyoto, a lot of domestic tourists and locals wear kimonos, especially when visiting shrines, temples and historic neighborhoods.
What’s the difference between a yukata and kimono?
Yukatas, as previously mentioned, are worn on summer months. The kimono, on the other hand, is worn usually in winter. A yukata has more colorful and casual designs, and is made out of cotton.
Kimonos are made out of silk and will require some special undergarments when you put them on.
How much does it cost to rent a kimono in Kyoto?
Renting a whole kimono set in Kyoto, on average, will cost you JPY 4,000 (around USD 36). Just keep in mind that Kyoto kimono rental shops advertise prices that start at JPY 1,500 (USD 14), but most low-cost rental shops only offer a small kimono subset with limited sizes.
Moreover, they might ask you for an additional fee for accessories, a handbag, hairpins and the hairdo. So, I suggest that you spare about JPY 4,000 if you want to wear a nice and complete traditional kimono set.
How long can I keep the rented kimono?
People mostly keep their rented kimonos for 6 to 8 hours. They go to the Kyoto kimono rental shop in the morning and return it in the evening.
Some places let you keep the kimono overnight or even return it to the hotel you’re staying. But, since the weather in Kyoto is unpredictable and it’s not easy to walk in sandals, travelers prefer to return the kimonos they’ve rented in a few hours.
Why do kimonos have large sleeves?
Kimonos, in the past, didn’t have big sleeves. As a matter of fact, only kids had large-sleeve kimonos. It was primarily designed to make the kids feel cooler by allowing the wind to blow through. Eventually, it became the norm in Japan.
Additionally, they believed that dancers wearing long-sleeve kimonos are more elegant to look at. Plus, long waving sleeves, in their belief and tradition, help keep all the evil spirits away.
Men’s kimonos, tomes odes and yukatas have shorter sleeves compared to the typical kimono.
Housewives and chefs normally put on a fabric piece to prevent the kimono sleeves from hanging, allowing them to move with ease.
What’s a geisha kimono?
Where to spot a real geisha in Kyoto?
There are plenty of bona fide geishas in Hanamikoji street from 05:45 to 06:45 PM as they walk to the teahouses from their residence. Likewise, you may find them leaving the Gion Corner, following their daily 07:45 PM performance.
You’ll most likely see these ladies on Saturday and Friday evenings. For a sure-fire way to see one, book a dinner geisha show at Maikoya
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