Many girls and young women visiting Japan dream of wearing a Kimono while they are here. Walking around beautiful neighborhoods and taking millions of pictures.
You can have this experience in Nagoya.
Even though I have been living in Japan for many years now, there isn’t much opportunity to wear a Kimono, and so I was excited when I was invited by Cockney Kimono to try their Kimono rental service in Nagoya.
Choosing a Kimono
I arrived at 2:30 p.m. on a windy winter day. Cockney is a popular hair salon in Nagoya that many foreign visitors, as well as residents, like to use.
One section of the salon has been repurposed to become a small Kimono dressing area.
I was welcomed by the owner of the Kimono rental service Nakanishi-san and the dresser Kato-san. They are doing their best speaking English, so please be patient with them.
During the dressing process, they will explain to you the different parts of the Kimono and its significance.
The first step of any Kimono experience is choosing a Kimono you like. The amazing thing at Cockney Kimono is that they like to use old original Kimono rather than newly manufactured ones. They say that the upkeep is a little bit more expensive and bothersome but the feel of a traditional Kimono is much better and it would be a waste not to use beautiful old Kimono.
I chose my Kimono based on color. I like to wear blue and so the blue Kimono with a flower pattern caught my eye.
Next, I got to choose the Obi, the broad belt that fastens the Kimono around the belly and is arranged in a beautiful design on the back. I asked for the recommendation of the staff. They will know which one fits best with the Kimono you decided on.
You can also choose how the Obi will be designed at the back. There are many options for this as well. Which you can choose by looking at a selection of pictures.
Getting Dressed in a Kimono in Nagoya
Then it’s time to get started. Take off your shoes and socks.
The very first step of wearing a Kimono is putting on the socks, called Tabi. Tabi are always white and have a split for the big toe. This is to make it more comfortable to wear with the traditional sandals called Zori.
Because it was a cold day I decided to keep on my warm underwear as well as my trousers under the Kimono. I also recommend wearing a sports bra, because you don’t want a big chest when wearing a Kimono.
First, you put on the so-called Juban, a special undergarment meant to protect the Kimono from sweat and also to support the collar of the Kimono. It is supposed to stand in the back, exposing the neck. Traditionally a symbol of beauty in Japan.
Next comes the Kimono. The Kimono is very long, much longer than the hight of a person. That is because the material is layered around the waist.
With precise movements, the dresser had the Kimono wrapped around me and fastened with multiple long straps.
Between the Obi belt and the Kimono on the belly comes a stiff oval-shaped object that is supposed to smooth out the Obi and keep it from getting wrinkles in the front.
Fastening an Obi is a complicated process, and different depending on the design created in the back.
The Obi is decorated with an Obishime, a string used to hold the Kimono sash in place. Kato-san created a beautiful flower design in the front. You can also add ornaments in the front or back of the Obi if you want.
The finishing touches were done, and although it didn’t feel like it the whole process of dressing me had taken around 30 minutes.
I was shown how to walk in my Kimono, and how to climb stairs. And most important of all, how to use the restroom.
They also had some tips on how to pose correctly in a Kimono for pictures, which I followed more or less successfully.
After taking countless pictures from front and back, and all sides it was finally time to explore Nagoya.
Exploring Nagoya in a Kimono
Of course, you can explore all of Nagoya in your Kimono. Just take the subway to whatever place interests you most.
The people at Cockney Kimono recommend you to explore the area around the salon on foot. They created a couple of useful maps with secret photo spots for their customers.
I was ready to explore the area in my Kimono.
Stepping out of the door I realized how cold it was. They had given me a stole to keep warm but it didn’t do much against the cold wind of that day. I was also offered a small bag to go with the Kimono, but I decided to use my own gigantic handbag because I tend to carry a lot of stuff with me.
Walking in my Zori took some getting used to, and because of the wind, the Kimono, especially around my legs, didn’t want to stay in its proper place. But I got used to the unfamiliarity of it all quite quickly.
Shikemichi is an old merchants area of Nagoya, with wide streets and traditional warehouses. Nowadays most of them have been restored. Many of them are used for stylish cafes, restaurants, art galleries, and boutique shops.
Little shrines dot the neighborhood, and every corner is suitable to take some pretty pictures. I visited a shrine, purified my hands and made a wish.
After exploring Shikemichi for a while, I was ready to take a break and decided on New Poppy a popular café in the area. Specialized in coffee but serving delicious breakfast and lunch as well this café is a perfect mix of Japanese traditional interior and western charm. The perfect location to take pictures in your Kimono.
If you want to have some lunch I recommend the Teppan Napolitan Pasta, but be careful not to get the tomato sauce on your Kimono. Adult Cream Soda was also really delicious. Just a hint of sweetness from the syrup and spicy from the ginger ale, topped with a bowl of vanilla ice cream.
Ogura Toast is a local breakfast specialty, made from a thick slice of toast topped with red bean paste. At New Poppy, you can try a special version, served in a hot castiron pan. The sesame bread is topped with red bean paste, vanilla ice cream, and coffee syrup.
Every adventure has to come to an end eventually. After my explorations, I returned to Cockney Kimono. I was undressed in no time, and it was time to say goodbye to my beautiful Kimono.
Final Thoughts on Kimono Rental in Nagoya
Again I would like to thank Cockney Kimono for the opportunity to have this amazing experience.
If you want to rent a Kimono in Nagoya visit the Cockney Kimono website and send them an email to make an appointment.
There are different options you can choose from. The standard Kimono Dressing Experience is what I did. At an additional charge, you can get a beautiful hairdo to go with the Kimono.
If you want to get dressed in a Kimono that you can take home with you after the experience there is an option for that as well. It includes all the items you need to wear a Kimono yourself including the Tabi (socks), Zori (shoes), Juban (innerwear), the Kimono itself, Himo (straps to close the Kimono), and the Obi (belt). You can buy additional accessories as well.
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In love with Japan and its amazing food, Lena wants to share her passion with the world. That’s why she started Nagoya Foodie. To teach about Nagoya, her adoptive home online through blog posts and offline through unique food tours.