One of my favorite moments during my Japan trip was when I got to roam around Gion (Kyoto's most famous geisha district) in this gorgeous kimono. Today, I will share with you the process involved in my kimono rental experience.
I chose a kimono rental shop called Yumeyakata, because scheduling an appointment through their website was a breeze. You can customize your rental plan along with a time slot that is convenient for your schedule. I loved the variety of designs (500+ available) and reasonable pricing. My package breakdown looked like this:
Once you've confirmed everything online, all you have to do is show up at the rental office. Yumeyakata was quite easy to find. You can either walk a few blocks from Kyoto station or simply hop off the metro at Gojo Subway station.
I arrived for my 12:00pm time slot and checked in at the front desk where a nice lady gave me instructions on where to go first. Don't worry about getting lost inside the building though, because English signs are posted everywhere. And if you still end up feeling confused, the staff speak English very well, so communication shouldn't be an issue.
After checking in, I went up to the first floor for my kimono/obi selection. I was initially overwhelmed by the many color options, but I knew I wanted a darker base with minimal floral patterns. So after narrowing it down to two black kimonos, I chose one that featured tiny pink flower petals. A staff member was on hand to help me select a dark pink striped obi, a beaded rope belt, and a yellow scarf to pair with everything.
Next, I was directed to go up another floor to the changing room. The "dressing room" is actually a completely open space with a wall length floor-to-ceiling mirror and you'll likely see other customers getting dressed into their kimono as well. You have to strip down to your underwear in front of two female staff members in order for them to help you into your outfit, so please don't be shocked! Throughout this portion of the process, I was fascinated by the multiple clothing layers they put on me as well as how snug everything felt. My daily clothes, shoes, and handbag were placed into a tote provided by Yumeyakata and I headed up to the next floor to the hair salon.
Hair styling was a very quick process and took roughly 15 minutes to complete. The stylists provided me with a visual menu of varying options for long/medium/short hair lengths. My hair was long, so I opted for a half down, half up look with tight curls on the side. I purchased a floral hair piece to finish the look and they even helped put it on me. The thing poked at my scalp, but I was willing to deal with a bit of pain since it looked so pretty!
Once my hair was done, it was time to go up to the next floor to choose a small drawstring bag for carrying key items and drop off my tote filled with regular clothes. They gave me a numbered token to keep on me, so I could retrieve my items later. I went back downstairs and paid for my entire rental package, put on my sandals, and headed out for the day!
So after walking around all afternoon exploring Kyoto, here are a few things I learned: