Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kimono shopping resources

A list of a few of the places I have used to buy kimono, obi, and other accessories. Most of these will be online links, and a few will be physical shops in Japan.

Ichiroya Probably my favorite online kimono shop of all time. Most of my best pieces come from here. The company is based in Osaka and offers a lovely selection of all kinds of kimono, from yukata to wedding kimono and even the occasional geisha hikizuri or susohiki. They specialize in second-hand kimono, and have lots of vintage/antique items, but every so often they offer new (or at least unused) items as well. They also have the best system I have seen for pointing out the flaws in the items they sell.

- Yamatoku Another online shop I sometimes use. They also specialize in second-hand items and have many kimono from the1960s-1980s. At the moment they feature a never-ending furisode and uchikake festival, where they post furisode and uchikake with huge price cuts. They also feature $9.99 and $19.99+ sales, which is a good way to grab some less expensive items. However, at the moment they have the annoying habit of tagging every newly-listed item they offer as a "geisha" item, which is simply not true -- I don't think I have ever seen them sell an authentic geisha item. I'm pretty sure it's just to make sure they get more hits on their website, since they didn't raise the prices of their "geisha" items. Just keep that in mind when you're shopping and don't be taken in by the geisha tag.

- Shinei If you run a Google search for the old Ryu Japan website, you will get this page directing you to three different locations: Ryu Japan's eBay site, Shinei's eBay site, and Shinei's actual shop. I bought a few items from the old Ryu Japan, back when Shinei was a separate (but related?) shop, and the items were quite nice. I haven't bought anything from Shinei yet, but they seem to have quite a variety of lovely items. The prices are a little on the high side, but the people I know of who have bought from them have been very happy.

- Kimono Market Sakura They actually specialize in yukata, but they also sell silk and modern polyester kimono, as well as kimono accessories. They even have a (small) selection of plus-sized yukata. You will want to take their measurement information with a grain of salt thought -- in the past they used to claim that their standard yukata fit a huge range of size, but that simply isn't true if you intend to wear the yukata properly. Sure, if you just want a robe to wear around the house, any kimono that first over your arms and shoulders will do, but if you want to wear it out in public it really needs to fit properly. So make sure you double-check the actual kimono measurements, and then double-check your own measurements before you buy.

- They have a small selection of kimono and kimono accessories. In the summer they might also offer yukata. One year they offered a small selection of plus-sized yukata and obi that went as high as Japanese 10L, but I haven't seen those offered since and as of this posting they haven't begun offering this year's yukata selection.

- Rakuten A Japanese shopping site consisting of thousands of shops, all in one place. There are special versions of Rakuten for different countries -- pick the country of your choice at the link I posted. This is a good place to get a huge selection of yukata, kimono, and related accessories, but make sure you take the time to figure out the ordering system before you order.

- Yahoo Japan Auctions A good place to find kimono and accessories if you don't mind an auction site. However, be aware that most (maybe even all) of the sellers are unwilling and/or unable to ship overseas, so you will need to go through a shopping service like Celga or Noppin to order from them.

- eBay Everyone knows eBay, right? The biggest problem with eBay is that you get a lot of junk mixed in with the good stuff, but if you know what to look for you can find some really wonderful things there. If you're new to kimono shopping, I would suggest spending some time on non-auction sites first to get a feel for what kind of kimono goes for what kind of price. You'll be less likely to pay too much for items that way.

- Ikuokaya Not a kimono shop, but rather my favorite kanzashi shop in Kyoto. They sell kanzashi for everyone as well as selling authentic maiko kanzashi and other authentic maiko items. They don't list an email on the webpage, but they do have a telephone and fax number you could use to contact them. The shop owner and his son (but not the other staff) speak English, and the owner's son also speaks German. Very friendly and helpful people. If you're in the area, be sure to stop by and have a look around.

Shops in Japan:
Japan being the place kimono come from, it's usually not that hard to find shops selling kimono. You may have to hunt a little depending on where you are, but there is most likely going to be at least one shop somewhere near you. A good place to look if you're not having any luck is your local mall/shopping center or department store. There is usually at least one kimono shop in the mall or one floor with kimono and kimono accessories in the shopping center.

- Kyoto: the Isetan and Daimaru department stores both have kimono floors. There are other department stores as well, but I haven't been in them. Teramachi-dori has several small kimono shops. You can usually identify them easily because they display kimono, yukata, and/or accessories outside the shop entrance. The second floor of the Chicago Harajuku (or is it Harajuku Chicago?) is filled with second-hand kimono and accessories of all kinds. Mimuro typically has a large selection of kimono for good prices. There are tons and tons of smaller stores all over the place in Kyoto, selling everything from brand-new kimono to vintage pieces. I usually stumble upon them while wandering around and never really learn the names. There are one or two in the general vicinity of Yasaka-jinja, and at least one other one on the non-Gion side of Shijo-dori. That side of Shijo-dori is also home to Jyuusan-ya, a famous kanzashi maker. Their specialty is boxwood combs, but you can pick up lacquer and false tortoise shell combs, tsumami kanzashi, and kanzashi in various other materials as well. The Gion side of Shijo-dori runs from the Kamo rive to the front of Yasaka-jinja and features three more kanzashi makers -- Ikuokaya, Kazurasei, and Kintakedo -- all of whom sell kanzashi for maiko and geisha.

- Tokyo: I haven't spent as much time kimono-hunting in Tokyo as I have in Kyoto, mostly because I haven't spent as much time in Tokyo. I'm definitely a Kyoto girl. But you shouldn't have trouble finding kimono in Tokyo. Asakusa has several kimono shops, including at least one branch of a second-hand chain Tansuya. And of course there are plenty of malls and department stores to check in as well.

- Nagoya: If you're looking for second-hand kimono shops, check the street filled with second-hand shops near the Uso Kannon shrine. There were at least two the last time I was there.

- Hiroshima: There are a couple of kimono shops in the pedestrian-only shopping street, and I spotted at least one more on the way there.

If you know of any interesting shops, feel free to mention them in the comments!


  1. Thanks for the information about the kimono shop in Japan online and offline.
    I think you can add the price range for offline kimono shop for the complement ;). There's also a discussion thread about kimono shopping in Japan in Immortal Geisha Forum (I'm kind of lurker and silent reader there hihihi....). D'oh I forgot to get the link, but the discussion was about Sarcasm Hime's question about kimono shops while she was going to have a trip to Japan back then.

  2. Really useful information. Thank you so much for sharing

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