There are many awesome things you can do in Japan that you can’t do in other countries including Mario Kart racing, having dinner with a maiko, and going on an all-you-can-drink sake tour. As for me, I have made it my goal to wear a kimono or a yukata when I visit Japan. I just thought that it would be a really unique experience because it is not everyday an ordinary person like me, who isn’t a geisha or a maiko, gets to wear one! I knew it was something that I would remember for the rest of my life. And I was right!
Rent it or buy it?
At first, I just wanted to rent it out for a few hours or even a day but as I was walking around the streets of Japan in Tokyo and Kyoto, I realized that it makes much more sense for my wallet to just buy one. From what I have seen, kimono/yukata rentals averages to about ¥5,000 while the yukata I bought from a store in Kyoto was about ¥8,000 and it came with a yukata, obi, and sandals (I’m not sure what they call it). I mean, I guess, it cost me ¥3,000 more but at least I got to keep it and use it again in the future. With renting, my ¥5,000 is gone forever. Although, I have to mention, I did see a yukata for sale at another store in Kyoto for about ¥5,000-6,000 but it didn’t come with an obi or sandals.
Where did I buy it?
My boyfriend and I were walking from our ryokan/traditional Japanese inn to Kiyumizudera when we passed by this lovely kimono shop (I don’t remember the name of the shop as it was in Japanese but I googled it and based on the photo of the store front, I think it’s the Okamoto Kimono). I wanted to check it out but they were still close as it was really early in the morning. On our way back from the Kiyumizudera to our ryokan, I didn’t even think about checking out the kimono store because we were running late for our shinkansen/bullet train to Osaka. David, however, was so keen in making my dream come true and encouraged me to run with him to the kimono shop. Pressed for time, I didn’t have time to select each and every piece of the outfit and as I was looking around the shop, I saw about five pre-selected items or a set containing a yukata, obi, and sandals. I chose a pink, flowery yukata with a light pink bow obi, and a sandal with flowery design on it. I wanted the people who work at the store to show me how to put it on but like I said, we needed to catch our shinkansen so I just paid at the counter and left for Osaka.
When and where did I wear it?
I did not have time to wear it in Osaka as we were only there for half a day and I didn’t find a place that I wanted to wear it in and take photos. We went back to Tokyo and that’s where I wore my yukata for the first time. We were in Asakusa and I knew it would be the perfect place to wear my yukata and take photos!
There were quite a few shops that sell or rent out kimonos and yukata in Asakusa. I went in to a couple of stores and asked them if they could teach me how to put on my yukata but they were not impressed that I brought in a yukata I bought from another store and refused to help me. I actually almost wanted to cry. With no one to help me figure out how to put it on, I told my boyfriend to come with me to a back alley and help me find instructions on Google on how to put it on. He was very helpful but not even a few minutes later, an older Japanese lady was walking in that back alley and stopped and just started teaching us how to put it on.
She was a blessing to me on that day when I was feeling down that no one wanted to help us out. She instructed my boyfriend and I in complete Japanese (we did not understand most of it) while at the same time showing us how to put it on. When we finally put the yukata on me, she looked so proud and happy. I said thank you to her in Japanese quite a few times and we also took a photo together.
From there, we went on our merry ways and David took photos of me in my yukata in Asakusa.
After we explored Asakusa, David and I sat on a bench to rest and cool down and I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was the older Japanese lady again! It was such a nice surprise. She said something to us in Japanese (we didn’t know what she said) and then she left. I felt sad because that was probably the last time I will ever see her again. She is definitely my favourite person during my trip in Japan but I don’t even know her name. If you recognize her in my pictures, please let me know. You can comment on my blog post or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I think it would be great to connect with her again.