A beautiful, dazzling Japanese Kimono is one of the most instantly recognizable garments in the world. So unique to Japan, the Kimono is a symbol of culture, history and elegance. In this day and age, the kimono is not commonly worn as everyday clothing. However, you might spot a Japanese citizen sporting some type of Kimono every now and then. Of course, whether you’re in Osaka, Tokyo or anywhere else within the country, you can absolutely learn tons about Kimono in museums. For example, you'll learn that the garment has many iterations! For example, types specific to certain special occasions, age groups, marital status and gender.
However, what many people don’t know is that it isn’t actually difficult at all to experience wearing this garment as a foreigner. In fact, kimono rental shops are regularly seen in Japan and Osaka has its fair share! It isn’t uncommon for tourists in Japan to want to try on the Kimono. Japanese people also tend to enjoy sharing this part of their culture with others. When renting a kimono, you’ll almost always have a Japanese person to help you wear it properly which is very important! Strolling down the streets of Osaka in a Kimono is a memory and experience you will never forget. Plus, you’ll no doubt get some beautiful photos to bring back home. A personal souvenir that’s hard to beat!
The word Kimono in Japanese literally means “a thing (mono) to wear (ki)”. The Kimono dates all the way back to the early Heian Period (794-1185). However, the garment became an everyday clothing item during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333). Years and years later, Kimono making took off as an artistic craft. This really peaked during the Edo Period (1603-1868). Unfortunately, Kimono wearing became drastically less popular during the Meiji Period (1868-1912) when Japan opened its doors to westernization. Many Japanese citizens switched from wearing Kimono to wearing more western styles of dress.
The kimono is iconic for its layering technique, beautiful color combinations and unique patterns. Kimonos are often passed down through families which are kept in use over generations. Even though the kimono is no longer worn everyday it is often brought out for special occasions. These include tea ceremonies, coming of age ceremonies, weddings and funerals to name a few.
TYPES OF KIMONO
The most amazing part of the kimono, in my opinion, is how versatile the garment is based on the type. Over the years, adjustments have been made to the kimono for many reasons. This isn't too surprising... Especially considering that the Japanese have been wearing kimono since the Heian Period. Hot weather? Tea Ceremony? Cold Weather? Wedding? A kimono for each of these circumstances exists! This also explains why kimonos range heavily in price. Although there are tons of types of kimonos, here are the two most famous and common styles.
Yukata is a very casual and simple kimono made of thin, breathable cloth. Therefore, the Yukata is the perfect kimono for hot Japan summers. Similar to a bathrobe, yukatas are unlined and are paired with a “hanhaba obi” or “heko obi” (both casual “belts”). Also, women typically wear matching hair accessories. Originally, the cotton yukata was dyed an indigo color. However, nowadays you will find that yukatas come in sorts of colors and patterns. Men’s yukatas have shorter sleeves while women’s sleeves tend to be longer. Summer festivals are exciting events held all across Japan. You’ll see many different Yukatas being worn! If you visit a summer festival you might as well commit fully and dress the part!
The gorgeous Furisode is a formal kimono worn mostly by young Japanese women. The garment is known for its long sleeves spanning up to 114 centimeters (44 Inches). The furisode is available in a range of beautiful colors and features intricate patterns and designs. Since it is very formal, it is almost always made of silk. Before the 20th century, both genders wore Furisode. Now it is only worn by women. Interestingly, the Furisode was also once exclusively worn only by young, unmarried women. However, in the current day and age, the rules regarding formal kimono are not as defined. The most common time you will see many women wearing Furisode is on “Seijin no Hi” or coming of age day in January. Furisode is worn for occasions such as tea ceremonies and at relative’s wedding ceremonies.
First on this list is the amazing Kyoto Kimono Rental Wargo Daimaru. This company has shop locations all over Japan, including Asakusa, Fukuoka, Kyoto and of course Osaka. The Kyoto Kimono Rental is only a 5 minute walk from Shinsaibashi station and has the largest Kimono and Yukata inventory in the area. Whether you are renting for a very special occasion or just simply want to sight-see in a Yukata, they’ve got you covered. In addition to a large selection of women’s kimonos, Kyoto Kimono Rental also has men’s and children’s.
When booking through their website, you will clearly see about 10 Kimono plans and price points. I would recommend the “selectable standard plan” (2,980 Yen) for those wishing to just experience wearing a Kimono for fun. Included in this plan is your personal choice of yukata and matching accessories. If you are looking for a more high-end Kimono or are participating with children/ a partner, there are other plans to choose from.
To be safe, make a reservation ahead of time online. However, know that you can also book a rental 2 hours in advance (subject to availability). Arrive at your reserved time and bring some form of identification. After this, you can go on your yukata choosing and wearing experience! The store even has a sister salon called Kanzashiya Wargo if you want to get your hair done too! Remember to return the kimono by the end of the day or return it the following day for an additional 1000 Yen fee.
The Kyoto Kimono Rental company is extremely foreigner friendly! Staff members are very experienced with tourists as foreigners are regular customers. Some staff members even speak some English. Another plus would be that the company has many sizes to offer for people of all shapes and heights. Also, you won’t have to worry about figuring out how to put on the Kimono. A staff member can help you get all dressed up correctly! This should take approximately 30 minutes. High quality customer service is a guarantee.
The incredible Vasara Kimono Rental is another huge company in Japan, with 20 stores nationwide. They are located right by the JR Osaka station and close to many great sightseeing spots. Vasara carries all sorts of Kimonos for women, men and children for all sorts of occasions. The company aims to make kimono wearing more accessible and fun for both Japanese people and tourists.
Vasara Kimono Rental also has lots of different price plans depending on what you are looking for. There are different categories of kimono which each have a few price plans. I recommend the “yukata standard” plan which is 2,900 Yen when booked online. This is perfect for those who want to try a yukata for cheap and with ease. View countless amazing and colorful yukatas to choose from online. There are also 9 other yukata plans offered if the standard plan is too simple for your taste. Furthermore, rentals don’t just end at the yukata of course. Although it is much more expensive, a Furisode or other type of formal kimono is just as fun to try! With so many options, you can really just choose what is best suited for you. Note that yukatas are much, much easier to walk in and wear for longer (especially in hot weather).
Just like the Kyoto Rental Wargo, it is best to make a reservation ahead of time using their website or on the phone. Despite this, same day reservations can be done too. Always, this is subject to availability. Come to the store with your ID on the day and a friendly staff member will help you get dressed! Expect the dressing to take about 20 minutes. After dressing, you will get a standard hair set or you can upgrade and get your hair done in store! To top it all off, Vasara gives you a cute purse to complete your outfit.
Vasara Kimono Rental’s staff are also very foreigner friendly! Once you are all dressed and ready to go, staff members can give you advice on wonderful nearby sites. Foreign customers come in the store all the time so the staff members are good at communicating with non-Japanese speakers. Make sure you return the kimono by the end of the day. You may also use the next day return option (an additional 1000 Yen).
Wafuku Sakura Kimono shop is a stunning little Osaka store! They are 4 minutes from Namba station and 6 minutes from Nihonbashi. Although they may seem a little small comparatively, do not judge this book by it’s cover! Wafuku Sakura Kimono shop does not disappoint in delivering magical kimono experiences!
Wafuku Sakura Kimono shop has 5 plans total, keeping it nice and simple. I would recommend either the “light plan” or the “standard plan”. The light plan is best if you're looking for the most basic and affordable option. The standard plan gives you a little more selection in terms of detailed kimono patterns. Both are beautiful! Add a cute, matching hair accessory for 1000 Yen. Wafuku Sakura even has a photography plan if you’d like someone else to take pictures of you around the city! This is perfect for anyone who wants high quality photos to remember the fun day.
Make a reservation online prior to coming in. On the day, you can choose your kimono and sandals before an experienced staff member helps you dress. Afterwards, the day is yours to explore while looking fabulous! Just remember to return all the items by 9pm the same day. What’s super great about Wafuku Sakura is their passion for seeing more kimonos on the streets of Japan. The atmosphere in the shop is warm and welcoming to all. Wafuku Sakura is also near the famous Dotonbori, Hozenji Yokocho and other popular tourist sites. The only possible thing that makes Osaka’s food and culture scene even better is when wearing a kimono!
Like the other shops, Wafuku Sakura is super accessible for foreigners. An example of this is the website. The website is very user friendly with clear English. The website has great tips on what to do (once in your Yukata) for fun memories and photos. In store, you can request their special map noting “instagrammable” locations. You will be met with kind staff who are looking to give you the best experience possible!
The Kimono is a large part of Japanese culture and many tourists love to experience wearing the traditional garment. Very unsurprising, considering how beautifully made each piece is. Especially in Osaka, there are many places you can rent a kimono. Choose from 3 fantastic options that will offer you a delightful day exploring the fantastic food, sights and culture Osaka has to offer.
Another great thing is you can find what works in terms of your personal budget. There are so many different types of kimono! So, you can be as casual or fancy as you’d like. You don’t need to empty your wallet to have fun in a kimono! Lastly, bring your partner, friends or kids along to experience wearing kimonos together! It is the most fun and trendy way to see the city. So, what are you waiting for? Go explore Osaka... and do it in style too!