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Every year, over 10 million people travel to Tokyo, Japan—and it is not hard to see why. Tokyo provides a unique culture, atmosphere, cuisine, and vibe.
One of my favorite things to do was very simple: just exploring! It is a vast city that can be almost overwhelming, so it can be fun to just see where your feet take you. However, if you know me and then you know that I cannot do anything “normal”.
Therefore, while traveling to Tokyo with my best friend, we decided to explore Tokyo in none other than the traditional kimono! That’s right!
Note: I understand that this is not for everyone and some people would rather just explore without drawing attention to themselves. If this is you, then I probably wouldn’t partake in this experience.
However, if you want to step out of your comfort zone, meet some amazing people, and get some once-in-a-lifetime photographs then I would highly recommend it!
My Bucket List Review for Wearing a Kimono in Tokyo
|My Overall Rating||6/10|
|Who Needs to Add This to Their Bucket List?||Travelers who are want to explore Japan|
and respect its culture.
|Best Time to Go||Anytime|
|Group/Tour Required||You go through a rental company, but then you are on your own.|
|Wheelchair Accessible||You might need to get out of the wheelchair to get dressed, but you should be fine after that.|
If you need more information, you check out all you need to know about my Bucket List Reviews.
What is wearing a kimono around Tokyo really like?
It was very important for me to wear a kimono with respect to the culture as my number one priority.
When I wore that kimono, I told myself that I would be representing the Japanese culture and I would conduct my behavior in a way that would honor the kimono and Japanese people.
When I first went out in the kimono, I did notice that there was a lot of eyes on me. With that in mind, it is an activity that brings a lot of attention to the wearer.
As I mentioned before, I would probably recommend this activity to someone who doesn’t mind getting noticed—but it is not in a bad way! I am not going to sugarcoat it; people will probably stare at you.
However, I think (and hope!) that my original priority was being communicated to people because I didn’t have one single negative experience.
There were several people who asked for photos with me and I did get a lot of warm smiles and friendly nods as I walked down the street. I even had an elder Japanese lady approach me and thank me for appreciating her culture.
This might not be everyone’s experience, but to me, everyone seemed to appreciate my apparel.
And the pictures—oh, the pictures! There is nothing that steps up the ‘travel photography’ or ‘Instagram travel’ game like being in a gorgeous city in gorgeous traditional clothing! If you are nervous about being photographed, I would suggest reading my guide on doing a travel photoshoot.
7 ideas of where to explore Tokyo in a Kimono.
1. Sensoji Temple
Since the company I rented from was in Asakusa, this was the first place that we stopped and I was not disappointed in the slightest! Asakusa is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Japan and it shows. I enjoyed this area because I got to see some typical Japanese style temples and customs. This was a perfect environment for showcasing my beautiful kimono.
2. Shibuya Crossing
This place is buzzing! And that is an understatement! In fact, this is the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing and is said to have about a million people daily visiting it!
3. Nakameguro River
I would recommend this one if you are there during cherry blossom season! I am a sucker for cherry blossoms so I am a bit biased. Also, I would go here if you want to get more of the “nature” scenes in your kimono and get away from the busy city feels.
It is hard to describe Harajuku, but I think I (and anyone else who has been there) can clearly say that it is an experience to go there. Whenever you think of the “cuteness” that surrounds a lot of Japanese merchandise, it is very condensed in Harajuku! This makes it a perfect place to go wandering in a kimono. There is a lot of colorful street art, quirky shops, and cosplay.
If you do make it over to this side of the city, I have heard that Tokyo Plaza Omotesando is pretty cool with its geometric mirrors and amazing street photography!
5. Hamarikyu Gardens
Although I have not been there myself since I ran out of time, the pictures of this place are out of this world. Plus, I have read that this garden is amazing throughout the seasons!
Even if you cannot make it to this one, I would recommend finding some sort of garden because there is nothing quite as magical as meandering through a Japanese garden in a traditional kimono!
I believe the one that we went to was the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden.
6. Go somewhere with a sky deck to get a full view of the city!
If you are looking for a view of the city, the Roppongi Hills City View is hard to beat! You even get a nice view of the Tokyo Tower! Although I personally did not see it, I also hear that you can see Mt. Fuji on a clear day!
Keep in mind that Roppongi and Shibuya are about the same height (230-250m/750-820ft respectively) and the Tokyo Skytree is substantially taller (634m/2080ft).
I would pick one based on if you want to feel “on top of the world” or you actually want to see the popular landmarks.
7. Omide Yokocho
If you are out for the night (depending on your rental agreement and the company), omoide yokocho is an awesome place for food, drink, and its iconic hidden alleyways that photographers flock to for those interesting shots!
Some quick tips for wearing a kimono that I learned
I would highly recommend wearing Geta and tabi (the shoes and socks that are traditionally worn with the kimono). They can take a little getting used to, but they are surprisingly comfortable.
I walked in them all day without any pain. I would definitely get the right size and walk a few steps before venturing out just to make sure that they are comfortable!
When you pick your design, I would ask one of the staff members what it means. Most likely, the contents of the design have symbolism or meaning.
Just because you don’t know what it means doesn’t mean someone on the street won’t—so I would make sure you know and are okay with what you are wearing!
Make sure that you are wearing the kimono appropriately and according to traditional practices. As far as I know, there are certain ways that a kimono should be worn.
This was important for me which is why I went through a rental company instead of doing it myself so that I could get dressed by people whose traditions I was representing.
Where did I go to Rent a Kimono?
I know that there are several companies around Tokyo that provide this kind of service. I decided to go with Yae Kimono Rental Asakusa because of the photos and reviews from the past clients. I also liked them because they approached it as an entire experience—the kimono, hair, accessories—the whole shabang.
I love doing hair, but I wanted it done in a traditional way done by professionals. They were extremely nice, had a wide selection of kimonos, and everything went off without a hitch.
The kimono was of amazing quality and my hair was an absolute masterpiece. Also, I knew that there was some do’s and don’ts when it came to wearing a kimono.
For example, I learned that the left side is on top and not wearing a sash ribbon in the front. This is why I found it better to get advice from an expert to avoid insulting anyone. This company definitely went above and beyond! Overall, I would highly recommend them!
Still stuck? Not in Tokyo? Here are some other ideas:
Quick Fun Facts about Kimonos
Kimono means “thing to wear” and it is the national dress of Japan. This is a 1,000 year old tradition!
The shoes that you are traditionally meant to wear is called Geta and the split socks are called Tabi. These are surprisingly comfortable and help the kimono from getting dirty.
Male kimonos are usually a more subdued color, while a woman kimono can depend on what stage they are in life.
For example, when women are young and single, they would wear kimonos with long, flowing sleeves and vibrant designs. Where married women would have shorter sleeves, toned down colors, and maybe a family crest.
There are different meanings for kimono colors and patterns. These are mostly related to seasons, but there are other countless motifs and symbolic meanings on the kimono.
For example, cranes often represent longevity. This is something that I would take into consideration when picking your kimono!
There is also a summer style kimono called a yukata. This is more casual and worn to summer festivals or bathhouses.
Traditionally, when a kimono was washed, the stitches were taken out and then sewn back in again for wearing! This was known as arai hari. Now that is dedication!
Who would you wear a kimono with in Japan? Make sure to share it with them below!