Kimono Rental in Kyoto

Rent a Kimono and take a beautiful photo in Kyoto like Geisha

Kimono Rental at Maikoya in Kyoto

Kyoto is a fascinating city, where old meets new on virtually every street corner. High on the bucket list for many visitors to Kyoto, is the opportunity to rent a kimono or yukata and explore this historic city. While in other cities strolling the streets by wearing a kimono may look a bit unusual, in Kyoto I felt like I blended in right away when I put on a seasonal kimono. If you are like my Western friends who want to try kimono but not walk outside, there are also many kimono shops and kimono photo studios in Kyoto that provide the unique kimono photography or just a kimono wearing experience. Before I go over the top 5 most popular kimono rental shops and kimono photo studios in Kyoto. Let me answer a few questions Kyoto visitors often ask me

How much is Kimono rental in Kyoto?

In average, renting a kimono as a complete set will cost you around ¥4,000. Please note that many places advertise prices starting from ¥1,500, but the low-cost kimono shops usually offer only a small subset of kimonos with limited sizes and then may ask for an extra fee for different designs, the hairdo, hairpins, handbag and the accessories. So please spare around ¥4,000 if you wish to wear a complete set of traditional kimono that looks nice.

How many hours can I keep the kimono?

Usually people go to the rental shop in the morning and return the kimono in the evening that allows them to keep it for 6~8 hours. Some places allow you to keep it overnight or return it to your hotel. However, since it is not easy to walk with sandals and the weather in Kyoto quite often gets very hot or very cold, many travelers tend to return their kimonos in a few hours.

Do Japanese wear kimonos?

A typical Japanese person would wear a kimono during social ceremonies such as the graduation ceremony, a wedding party or a tea ceremony. Wearing a kimono is also normal in cultural activities such as flower arrangement, buyou dance and kabuki watching. Yukatas are worn by young people when they watch the summer fireworks. You rarely see a Japanese person wearing a kimono in downtown Tokyo. However, in Kyoto, many locals and domestic tourists put on a kimono especially when they visit historic neighborhoods, temples and shrines.

What is the difference between kimono and yukata?

Kimono is worn during the winter and yukata is worn during the summer. Kimono is made out of silk and you need special inner garments to put it on. Yukata is made out of cotton and has more casual and colorful design.

Why do kimonos have big sleeves?

In the past, only children’s kimonos had big sleeves and the reason was to let the wind blow through and create a cooler feeling. Later it became a norm. Also it is believed that dancers who wear long sleeve skimonos look more elegant and the long waving sleeves keep the evil spirts away. Yukata, tomes ode and male kimonos tend to have shorter sleeves. Chefs and housewives usually put on a piece of fabric to prevent the sleeves from hanging so they they can move easily.

What is the purpose of kimono?

The purpose of kimono is to cover the body in a formal way that has been preserved for more than 1,000 years. Kimonos traditionally come only in one size and it is difficult to learn how to put one on. If the Japanese wanted, they could have added buttons to kimonos, but they did not, just to preserve their tradition. Ki-mono means thing to wear in Japanese and when it first emerged the kimono was an under garment for the Japanese aristocrats.

What is a geisha kimono?

Geishas usually wear a black kimono or simple-color kimono to show their maturity. Apprentice geisha, the maiko, usually wear more bright colors with flower designs. The apprentice geisha’s kimono is similar to uchikake, the wedding kimono, and mature geishas’ kimono is similar to tomesode.

Where can I see a geisha in Kyoto?

You can spot many real geishas on Hanamikoji street between 5:45 pm and 6:45 pm during their walk from their residence to teahouses. You can also spot some geishas leaving the Gion Corner after their daily dance performance at 7:45 pm. You are more likely to see geishas on Friday and Saturday evenings. It is a bit expensive but you can also reserve a geisha dinner show here.

What are the most popular kimono rental venues in Kyoto?

1. MAIKOYA Kimono Rental and Tea Ceremony Experience Kyoto

MAIKOYA Kimono Rental

Having received the “best activities and tours award,” MAIKOYA has been the most popular kimono rental experience in Kyoto. Maikoya also has two convenient locations in the downtown area and more importantly a user friendly website that makes it very easy to book kimono rental. Maikoya’s Kawaramachi location is right next to the train station that can take you to Arashiyama or Fushimi Inari’s 1,000 gates. Maikoya’s Gion location also has many exhibitions about the history of geisha and geisha kimono. The best part is MAIKOYA has tea ceremony and kimono rental in Tokyo and Osaka. So, if your travel plans change, they can accommodate you easily.

MAIKOYA distinguishes itself with fluent English speaking staff, large kimono variety with both high end and budget options, 24-hours customer service, free photographer and also the focus on the culture. Whether you are looking for silk kimonos, children’s kimonos, men’s kimonos, plus-size kimonos or honeymoon kimonos, you will find all of them at Maikoya. Maikoya’s “FULL MEMORABLE SET” comes with hairdo, sandals, bag and hairpin, so you don’t have to worry about how to make a decision. They also have tea ceremony, sweets making and kimono photo studio options in their facility, which means you can still enjoy the experience if you don’t feel like walking outside in kimonos.

The kimono experience at MAIKOYA has been designed to make you feel comfortable and provide the best photo experience in Kyoto. But Maikoya tells visitors that wearing a kimono is not only a photo op, it is 1,000-year old tradition. The store has many posters and exhibitions that demonstrate the cultural and traditional meanings of kimono and kimono designs. The staff will also explain you the cultural aspects of kimono wearing and help you choose among hundreds of kimonos and hair sets both old-style and modern styles.

▶︎Book the exclusive Maikoya Traditional Kimono Experience in Kyoto at a discounted rate!!

Map: http://bit.ly/2KX8xUa

2. Kyo Temari

Kyo Temari

Kyo Temari is a fashionable Kyoto kimono hire shop, they specialize in providing rare silk kimonos. The designs they offer are beautiful, the colors are vibrant and the embroidery intricate. Each Kimono in their delightful shop is exquisite though the reserving is not easy (they usually require you to call them or fill out a form in advance). Their price starts from ¥5,000 however the full rental experience with hairdo, sandals and the sash of your choice can be a little pricy.

If you want a high-quality photograph set and a booklet Kyo Temari has a specialist in-house photographer who will perform a professional photo shoot, either in store or on the streets of Kyoto. Kyo Temari will give you a day of traditional beauty you will never forget. They have over 300 kimonos to chose from. Renting a kimono for the day will provide you with the perfect chance to experience some of Japans finest traditions.

The beauty of Kyo Temari is that every kimono is unique, you will not find another kimono in the same style anywhere else in Kyoto. Each staff member is very attentive, with enough people on hand speaking English to help you select and wear your kimono in the traditional Japanese style.

Map: http://bit.ly/2XKb5ey

3. Kimono Rental Rental Wargo Gionshijo

Kimono Rental Rental Wargo

This is a budget kimono rental shop, good for curious tourists and day trippers who want to try a kimono. Wargo has an image of a cheap kimono rental shop and it has a location near the Kyoto tower. You can prebook your kimono and travel straight to their store for an expert fitting. The downside is the English level of the staff may not be as good as Maikoya and if you want to pick your favorite design and accessory in the store, the price would be way higher than a regular kimono rental.Nevertheless, Wargo is well advertised and also gets busy during the peak seasons of the year.

You will find various kinds of accessories, and attentive assistants, who will dress you in approximately 30 minutes. Your kimono can be returned to the store the same day or for an additional fee you can wear it overnight.

Map: http://bit.ly/2KUzrfL

4. Walin

Walin

Walin is geared towards locals so you will find more local designs but rebooking is not that easy and the staff has limited English skills. If Japanese ladies have a high-class event to attend, they often visit Walin to hire one of the stylish kimonos in town. At Walin, you can rent your kimono for the day or overnight. They have a strict size chart that can be found on the FAQ section of their website. The staff members at Walin are incredibly attentive and will help you dress in your kimono, All kimono rentals come with a free cleaning service and accessories.

Walin offer some of the most stylish and exclusive kimonos in Kyoto. Their service is used by locals and tourists. This is a unique store for special events The location is in Karasuma between the Kyoto station area and the downtown area.

Map: http://bit.ly/2Xq1RQi

5. Kyoto Kimono Rental Yumeyakata

Kyoto Kimono Rental Yumeyakata

Just like Kimono rental Okamoto, Yumeyakata is also within walking distance of Kyoto’s major cultural attractions. Kyoto Station, Kodai-Ji Temple, Gion, Kiyomizu Temple, and Higashiyama. Are all close to the Yume Kimono shop.

With some of the friendliest staff members of Yumeyakata, you will learn the intricate dressing process. As you are professional dressed by English speaking assistants. You will find a full range of accessories and a photographic service to capture this once in a lifetime experience. There are more than 100 kimono rental shops in kimono and listed the main ones here.

Map: http://bit.ly/2xrDo2A

Tips

Which Kimono rental option is the best?

All kimono shops I visited are providing a satisfactory service and show the omotenashi service of the Japanese culture. Overall I found MAIKOYA to be more flexible with more choices. They also have very convenient locations in downtown Kyoto and Gion.

The Best Kimono Photo Spots in Kyoto

1. Gion Tatsumi Bridge. This is also the place where they shot the movie “The memoirs of a Geisha”. (Map: https://goo.gl/maps/kRq3ABVhnBSMndnm9)

2. Yasaka Kamimachi Street, Yasaka Shrine. This is where most Japanese wedding photographies are taken. Also don’t forget to take a photo in front of the colorful wish balls in the shrine. (Map: https://goo.gl/maps/QcTx246BZMs5Qf2f6)

3. In front of the gates of the Kiyomizu temple. There are so many orange gates with stairs. Make sure the person who is taking your picture stands below you and the full body is in the Fram with the gate in the background.

4. Arashiyama bamboo grove. Awesome picture spot but must get there early in the morning or evening as it gets very crowded. (Map: https://goo.gl/maps/eFW4jaQNH6R1ACQs5)

5. Fushimi Inari 1,000 gates. The most popular visiting spot in Japan which also appeared in many movies. Please get there early in the morning or after 5 pm if you don’t want others to be in the frame.

Process of Renting a Kimono

1. Prebook Online

2. Show up on time. PS: During the busy season (Cherry blossom, new years, there may be some waiting time in the mornings). PS: Most places do not provide make up. If you want to do additional make up show up 10 minutes earlier and bring your own make up materials.

3. Most places provide free hairdo, please do not worry about your hair. If you have short hair they may still try to give you some matching hair accessories.

4. For men’s kimono, it is ideal to wear a V-neck inside. Some kimono places will give you a matching t-shirt, some won’t.

5. Try not to bring valuables. Some kimono-places have lockers to keep your belongings, some places just keep them in the basket in a separate room.

6. Use the restroom before putting on the kimono. It is difficult (but not impossible) to use the restroom once you put on the kimono.

7. The Kimono wearing and the hairdo lasts between 15 minutes and 30 minutes depending on your group size and the time of the year.

8. The dressing process is way faster for men than women. Males usually wait for females in the waiting room for at least 10 minutes.

I was surprised to find out all these kimono facts from the information brochure at MAIKOYA.

-Women should not wear the sash ribbon in front. Historically, only the courtesans used to tie their sash from the front.

-Historically, all kimonos for adults came in only one size. Since people have different heights, it is not easy to put on a kimono.

-Most young Japanese women today cannot wear a standard kimono by themselves because it requires as certain amount of training and practice. Wearing a summer kimono (yukata) , which is found in all ryokans and hot springs is rather easy, all Japanese can do it.

-While the Western clothing usually shows the appeal of women by emphasizing the curvy lines, the kimono does the opposite. It shows the body straight, which is more suitable for the body type of Japanese women. The inner-wear stuffing is used to show the body more cylinder-like.

-When wearing the kimono over the chest, the left side should always be on top (right side worn first). In Japan, only those who passed aware are wrapped in a kimono where the right side is on top.

-When you are wearing a kimono, you are practicing a 1,000 year-old tradition. In most countries, traditional clothes are only worn during festivals and parades, but in Japan, it is normal to wear a kimono during social gatherings (marriage, tea ceremony, graduation party, meeting with friends at a teahouse, etc.).

– Most young girls you see on the streets of Kyoto wearing the kimono are usually domestic travelers from Osaka or Tokyo who are visiting Kyoto since Kyoto. In other Japanese cities, it is rare for youngsters’ to wear a kimono on the street except the graduation ceremony and the coming of age day.

-Men’s kimono tend to have simple dark colors with no motifs, comes with a black and white patterned small sash which is put in a way that shows the big belly. Bigger belly means the man has higher social status.

-Women’s kimono tend to be more colorful, have a big sash and feature flower motifs.

-Kimonos have long sleeves for wind to pass by. This makes the wearer feel comfortable and also looks more appealing.

-Kimonos are made by standard fabric that is 36cm wide which is very impractical (4–5 pieces should always be sewed to make a T shape)

-Maiko (training geisha) dress can weigh more than 10 kgs. It has many layers of inner garment to show the chest flat, that gives the image that the girl is “pure.”

-Yukata is a type of kimono that is made out of cotton as a summer wear. Its design is more casual and it does not require inner wear.

-The sash (obi) can be tied in the back in dozens of different ways. Each way has a different meaning. Apprentice geisha has long sash and mature geishas have short sash.

-Most young women with powdered white face you see on the streets during the day time tend to be travelers from Asia who dress up as an apprentice geisha. Real apprentice geisha (maiko) usually do not walk outside as groups, walk fast, have real hair instead of wig, have only bottom lip painted and always carry seasonal flowers and seasonal motifs on their outfit. Real geishas also usually do not wear all-red kimono designs.

-In Japan married and single women should wear different kimonos. You can understand if someone is married or single from the kimono.

-The kimono patterns and motifs have symbolic meanings mostly related to seasons. For instance pine, chrysanthemum and bamboo branches represent winter while cherry blossom and plum flower represent spring. There are other symbolic meanings such as cranes and hexagons: longevity ; wisteria flower and peacock: love ; fan: wedding ; taiko drums: fun, paulownia flower: femininity; overlapping circles: 7 jewels of buddhism; connected diamonds: the hemp leave that grows fast which is often used for children’s kimono. The crane is particularly used in wedding kimonos since it represents longevity , good fortune and loyalty. The loyalty comes from the fact that cranes are monogamous animals. Chrysanthemum is perhaps the most common flower as it also symbolizes the imperial family.

-The kimono colors also have meanings. Blue: the ocean and sky; red: wards off evil spirits; pink: spring and youth; purple: noble; harvest season. Bright colors used for spring, dark colors used for winter and paster colors are used for summer. Old ladies’ kimono tend to have very simple colors with limited or no motifs.

Additional Tips

Where to buy Kimono in Kyoto?

You can buy a kimono on the Teramachi shopping street as there are shops which sell both upscale and used ones. Some kimono rental facilities such as Maikoya, also has kimonos for sale. Please remember, kimono wearing requires inner garments and has a complicated process.

How much is Kimono in Kyoto?

There are many used kimono shops that sell kimonos for ¥5,000. A new wool kimono can be found for ¥25,000 and a silk kimono for about ¥60,000. The reason renting a kimono and buying a used kimono would cost the same is most people cannot wear a kimono by themselves and a traditional looking hairdo needed (for ladies) when wearing a kimono.

Wearing kimono is one of the best ways to experience Japanese traditional culture in Japan. You shouldn’t miss the chance to try kimono in Kyoto anyway! For more info about Kyoto, you might also like these articles below!

Tea Ceremony Kyoto: 5 Best Experiences in 2019

5 Best Samurai Experiences in Kyoto

25 Top Things to Do in Kyoto : Kyoto Bucket List 2019

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