Kimono Wearing in Tokyo: My Experience
Travelling around Japan and seeing all the Japanese women resplendent in their kimonos, I had always wanted to try wearing one myself. Being 6ft tall however, I did not think that it would be possible, as kimonos are designed to fit much smaller Japanese women. Luckily for me, Omakase Tour's kimono wearing experience in Tokyo showed me that it is indeed possible for a tall woman to dress in a kimono.
The kimono store was located in an inconspicuous neighbourhood which seemed to house many wholesale fabric and fashion stores. Upon entering, we were led to the second floor, where we were greeted in English by the concierge, Meiko Matsumaru, an expert from the Japan Cultural Kimono Club for over 20 years.
The first part of the experience involved learning about the art of kimono. We learned about the history of kimono, when they are worn, and the different materials and styles that can be used. Did you know that young and unmarried women are supposed to wear a brighter and more youthful type of kimono known as furisode, while married women are supposed to wear a more subdued and elegant kimono?
There are various patterns that can be used on the kimono fabric, such as cranes, cherry blossoms, or peony flowers. All the patterns represent something, for example a pattern of overlapping circles is known as seigaiha and represents ocean waves and the ebb and flow of life. Ms. Matsumaru explained many of the patterns to us, along with the numerous colours that can be used in a kimono fabric.
We also learned about the different ways the kimono can be decorated, from simple dye to the intricate and extremely difficult craft of tsumugi, where the yarn is dyed and then individually woven into a pattern. To get an idea of how difficult it is, you can check the process at the Meiji University Museum at Ochanomizu where it shows you step by step.
After this learning session, I definitely felt like I understood more about kimonos. I used to think of them are just pretty outfits, but now I can see a deeper meaning to them. I think that is what makes this kimono experience stand out, that you actually get to learn a lot rather than just get dressed up and take pretty pictures.
Choosing my own kimono to try on
The highlight was choosing my own kimono to wear. We could choose any kimono that we liked. It was hard to decide - did I want one that was symbolic and meant something to me, or one with a beautiful pattern? I actually liked the furisode kimono best, so despite being far too old for them, I was allowed to choose one of those.
We also had to choose a matching obi (sash) to go with the kimono. I had no idea what would look good, but luckily the hosts were experts and made some recommendations.
Wearing the kimono
After we'd made our selections, we all got to try on the kimono of our choice. Ms. Matsumaru helped us get dressed - it's quite a difficult process! I thought I would feel squished wrapped up tightly in so many layers, but it was actually surprisingly comfortable. It helps you stand up straight with support. It felt like a shame to take it off afterwards.
We practiced walking and sitting in the kimono, and of course took many photographs.
It was a fun experience and a great chance to learn more about one aspect of Japanese culture which I did not know much about!
If you want to try this kimono wearing experience, you can book it at https://omakase-tour.com/tours/Destinations/Tokyo/discover-the-world-of-authentic-kimono-with-a-kimono-concierge-at-a-historic-kimono-store.html