Most women would definitely include wandering the fascinating streets of Kyoto in elaborate, traditional kimono on their bucket list of things to do in Kyoto. It is just fascinating seeing kimono girls walking along the streets, whether they are Japanese or even just foreigners playing dress up… There is something just so elegant when one is clothed in a lovely kimono… and that was what I wanted to do…
It is pretty convenient also since you also get to leave your day clothes and bags at the store while you are roaming nearby places clad in those glorious Japanese attire, or of course, if you are comfortable enough or brave enough, go further around Kyoto in it….
And Kyoto offers that experience… So how can I resist when I saw the glorious kimonos and even hakamas the Kyoto Kimono Salon by Saganokan have to offer…..
It was a not to be missed experience,… so I made my reservations and headed over to the main store which was surprisingly not too far from my hotel…admittedly I was a little lost, as the shop was located at a small side street but thanks to some outstanding Japanese hospitality, I found my way there…
The Kyoto Kimono Salon by Saganokan occupies 5 storeys of a building.. the ground floor being for purchases, I think… the rental part is on the 1st floor….
On arrival, I was given a plastic bag for my shows after removing my shoes for storage to be put in another recyclable bag and were told to choose the kimono from the rows of glorious and pretty fabrics.
Being an older woman, I did not want to go for something to sweet or too flowery, so I chose a very simple red kimono with butterflies on it…
I was then ushered to the women’s dressing area where a Japanese woman took it from me and selected an obi to match it, it so happened I got an adorable cat obi and I loved it… There are no separated dressing areas and you will be told to strip up to your underwear and put on a new pair of tabi/divided toe socks .. but once I stripped to by bra and panties, the woman quickly covered me up with a cotton under clothing and another silk one…..
Putting a kimono on is truly a skill…. I’m can’t remember all but I sure remember thinking that the woman was very strong…I mean there are so many Koshihimo/ silk ties to be tied tightly around my abdomen or under my breast area to hold the garments in place and then there is a hard board and pulling the obi and tying it into some beautiful bow. I swear Japanese girls must be very slim in the past with all these ‘girdles’ and have a great posture too…And hey presto, I was clad in a beautiful kimono. The woman added an extra silk cord tie around the obi…
Then I got my hair done. This part is optional and does cost extra with prices starting at 1,500yen The hair stylists are very deft and skilful and in no time I was sporting a nice side bob and ready to go… I was then told to choose my Geta/ Japanese wooden slippers and reminded to come back to the shop by 5pm….
It takes about an hour to an hour and a half for dressing and hair do… It can be a little uncomfortable wearing the tabi and geta since we are not quite used to it, but the kimono was just exquisite…
..so I did not go too far after that.. and instead of going to a traditional place, I headed to the Nishiki Market and the Kyoto shopping road in my finery…
When it was over, I went back to the shop and well, like everything else, taking it off is just so much easier and faster then putting it on… they took off my kimono finery in just less then 3 minutes…huhuh
Still, it was definitely an experience of a lifetime.. and hehehe.. I can brag that I have put on the Chinese Hanfu, Korean Hanbok as well as the Japanese Kimono…..and so if you are in Kyoto, you really should splurge a little and try it yourself…
Kyoto Shijo Main Shop
Address：Sento-kan, 582 Kikusuimoko-cho, Muromachi-dori, Shijo-agaru, Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto
-Get off at Hankyu Karasuma Stn, or Kyoto Subway Shijo Stn-
Open from 11:00 to 18:00