Oct. 03, 2018 UPDATE
Traditional handicrafts from Kyoto
Part 2

Kimono: the ultimate Kyo-craft to get in the old capital

The history of the Japanese garment known as kimono began already in the Jomon period (14,000–300 BC), although of course, it didn’t really look like the kimono we know today back then. It was a very simple garment back then, but as the time passed and the Chinese court-attire influences were included into the design, the kimono began to resemble something we know today.

The most famous historical kimono in Japan is probably the “junihitoe” of the Heian period (794–1185 AD), which was a 12-layered kimono worn by the women of the highest rank in the court. Although the name would imply that the kimono was always 12-layered, sometimes it actually had up to 20 layers, and sometimes fewer.

These 12-layered kimono can still be seen in Kyoto today at such festivals as Aoi Matsuri, but of course not in everyday life. Although kimono have lost their popularity as everyday garments in most of Japan, Kyoto is one of the places where some people still prefer to wear kimono, especially when it comes to special occasions. For example, the mayor of Kyoto, Mr. Kadokawa, can most often be seen in a kimono.

So, now that we have looked at the history of kimono, where can you actually buy kimono in Kyoto?
Antique Kimono YAYA
Antique Kimono YAYA
This kimono shop close to Chion-in Temple offers handmade quality kimono both new and old. There is something special in having a kimono made in the good old Taisho period (1912-1926). You can get some usually very expensive types of kimono here for rather cheap if you’re fine with your kimono being antique. For example, kimono hand-dyed by the shibori-method, are usually really expensive, but here, you can get them at quite reasonable prices.
ichi·man·ben
ichi·man·ben
Ichi·man·ben is a kimono shop that was started by an initiative from the students of Kyoto University, so even to this day, they’re very welcoming to kimono newcomers. So if it’s your first time buying a kimono, the staff here will know what to recommend to you. They often have new kimono for cheap prices, but they also offer used and higher quality ones too.
Ochicochiya
Ochicochiya
Ochicochiya is located in a quiet alley on the south side of Shijo Street. This shop offers both used and new kimono, and they even have their own line of kimono. The staff here are very knowledgeable, so if you have any deeper questions about kimono, or about what type of kimono to wear to what occasion, be sure to visit this shop. They can also find cheap kimono to fit your budget, although they of course also have nicer ones too.
kimono for men
They also have some kimono for men, but note that they may not have sizes for tall people.
Sohya
Sohya
Sohya is a new kimono shop run by a kimono shop with a long history: Chiso, which began selling clothing way back in 1555. Sohya is a kimono shop that is a bit different from the ones above: here you can have a one-of-a-kind kimono made for you. So everything here is tailor-made, so it’s sure to fit you well, but do note that it takes around two months for them to make a kimono. It’s a nice idea to make a reservation beforehand so you can be sure the staff has time to help you order a kimono.

So, are you ready to go get a kimono?
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