Today, I’ll talk to you a little about buying used kimonos in Kyoto. In addition to buying cool, unique items like Japanese doorway curtains made from kimonos, you can buy kimonos in Kyoto.
There are many places in Kyoto to buy used kimonos, but it can be quite difficult if you don’t know where to look. Many touristy areas will have them for rent, and will possibly have very expensive ones for sale. For the most part, you should stay away from touristy areas if you want good kimonos at a reasonable price.
Many places, such as Tansu-ya (たんす屋) will have a few 1,000 yen kimonos, and a ton of kimonos running at 10,000-50,000 yen. The secret with Tansu-ya is that they usually have 1/3rd of their stock at 30-50+% off, so you can check back later if you’ll be in Kyoto for a while.
Tansu-ya has a few locations in Kyoto, located in the heart of a few tourist districts, so they’ll be easy to find. For their expensive kimonos, you are paying both for quality and for clean kimonos. Many cheap kimonos you’ll find will have a significant number of stains.
Suzaku (朱雀) is a fantastic shop, though it’s located in a shopping arcade that most foreigners don’t know about. The staff doesn’t know much English, but they’ll be very eager to help and know a lot of the English lexicon for patterns and colors. If you are at Nijo Castle, you can walk three blocks South, then take a right down the shopping street and walk all the way down. Suzaku is near the end. It’ll be a beautiful walk, and you can get a small bite to eat as well.
If you’re looking for some great deals on hidden surprises, I suggest Kimono 794. It is a bit off the trail, but there are some nice temples in the area. Kimono 794 has a lot of great deals, and they’re always getting new stuff in stock. The owner is a great guy, and he’ll be glad to help you out. If the staff is currently away, just contact them through Whatsapp or call them up, and they’ll be there right away. They also sell stuff in front of the giant tori gate at the Kitano Tenmangu flea market on the 25th of every month.
And that brings me to my next suggestion!
Flea markets! There are a lot of flea markets in Kyoto as well, and if you are in Kyoto on any of those dates, it’ll be a fantastic time to buy kimonos. For the most part, you’ll get good deals. Vintage silk haoris (kimono jackets) can easily be 1,000-7,000 yen, and vintage silk kimonos can range from 500 yen to 20,000. The cheaper ones will usually have a significant number of stains or the seller just wants to sell a ton. (So, they make money selling large quantities and don’t sort through anything. Higher-priced sellers will usually pick and choose the best, so you’re also paying for their time.)
I’ll write a blog post on this later, but Kitano Tenmangu on the 25th is the second best spot. Toji on the 21st is the biggest, and best, place to buy vintage kimonos. The weather and stock availability will impact prices. If one place doesn’t have much in stock, it usually means it’s impacting everyone, so everyone raises their prices.
One last thing you can also do is go to pawn shops. There are quite a few of them, but they won’t have as big of a selection. It’s fun to stop by all the different places and see what they have.
If you look for “リサイクル” (recycle) or “セカンド” (second – short for “second hand”), you will find a lot of places. Some small shops like Hand-to-Hand, Better Days (ベッターデイズ), and Kankantei (閑々亭) will have kimonos, while larger ones like Second Street (セカンドストリート) and Recycle Kingdom won’t. It’s a bit of a mystery to me.
Well, that’s it for today. Please check back to see more on kimonos in Japan.