The Japanese kimono is easily one of the world’s instantly recognizable traditional garments, that dates back to over a thousand years ago. Renting and wearing a kimono in Japan is a big touristy experience everyone should participate in. Are you planning a trip to Japan? Here are 5 reasons why I think you should rent a kimono in Kyoto or anywhere in Japan.
1. Appreciate the tradition
Layers upon layers (10-12) go into a traditional kimono outfit. Picking out your kimono from a rack full of colorful patterned robes, choosing your accessories and getting dressed, wrapped up and tied to perfection by someone, is a fun experience in itself. But then, the best part is you get to go out and explore Old Japan in a traditional kimono.
Your stomach area is tight from all the layers, you walk a bit slower thanks to the full length robe, tabi socks (in the winter) and zori sandals. And you get to somewhat experience the struggles of past/present Japanese women went/go through to hold onto this lovely tradition.
2. Celebrate the culture
Not only do you get to appreciate this tradition when wearing the kimono, you get to celebrate it!! It means you’ve come to Japan not just to sightsee, but to learn more and immerse yourself in the culture.
3. You won’t offend anyone
Japanese people actually love it when foreigners show an affinity to their country and culture. They believe that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” It’s always hard knowing what locals think of cliché touristy things like this… but the concept of “cultural appropriation” hasn’t made much headway in Japan, which itself has a long and illustrious history of cultural appropriation (think kanji, chopsticks, Buddhism, etc.). So don’t worry, I promise you will get lots of smiles and probably lots of people saying kawaii (cute)!
While we were wearing our kimonos the bow in my obi (sash) started to come undone. The sweetest Japanese lady stopped me on the side of the road and re-tied my obi for me! She of course took it upon herself to make me look presentable again and I was so grateful. She and her friends complimented us on how cute we looked and I of course thanked her over and over again in Japanese! (You can see compare the ties in the photos I added below).
4. It’s pretty inexpensive experience
Kimono rentals from Kyoto Kimono Rental Wargo (the place we used) range from $30-50 USD for a whole day. The package includes undergarments, robe, obi, sandals, purse, and they’ll put your hair in a simple hair style with a cute pin. Of course you can upgrade to a higher quality kimono, a straw bag, an umbrella, or request a fancier hairstyle… it all depends on your budget and how fancy you want to get!
5. Think of the cute photos
Seriously photos are a huge part of vacations for me. I have a pretty bad memory, so I know in the long run they will help me recall the little things from our trips. The photos I got of myself wearing a kimono in Kyoto will be treasured forever, even if they’re mostly iPhone photos.
What are you waiting for? Here are some photos that will surely help you with your decision. If I haven’t convinced you yet, see more from our day of wearing kimono in Kyoto >> Spring in Japan: Kimonos in Higashiyama.