Occasionally, I make trips to my favorite second hand kimono store in Tokyo. Please email me (on the Contact page) if you are interested in acquiring a good condition, reasonably priced lightly used or antique kimono while in Tokyo and would like some insight and assistance with your purchase. ​​

New kimonos

Luxury at its finest

Washing Kimonos (Circa 1915) Original Collection: Visual Instruction Department Lantern Slides Item Number: P217:set 060 040 Oregon State University.

Having seen both new and vintage/antique kimonos, my personal taste leans towards the ones with a patina, a feel of history in the fabric. I would like to share some of my favorite types of kimono through some images that have been made accessible in public domains.

Japanese woman with mirrors, a charming photograph from the George Eastman House Collection depicts a young woman wearing a double kimono. The double kimono was worn by women from wealthy families. It is a "double" because there is a second inner kimono which pairs with the regular one. This second kimono is made usually from an identical textile as the outer one either in whole or in part. Additionally it is sometimes slightly padded for extra warmth. It is worn under the regular kimono, which brings the layer count to four. This type of kimono would have been worn by women from wealthy families in the past. 

In an undated photograph (possibly from the Edo period, judging from the stripe patterns that were popular then), different ways of tying the obi and creative hair-dos are displayed. The criss-cross tie above the Obi was a looped strip of cloth used to secure the long sleeves close to the elbow so that work could be done without the swinging sleeves getting in the way.

Vintage kimonos

My favorite patterns for the kimono are the "all over" patterns. These type of kimonos are considered "every day" kimono, not meant to be worn to special occasions. (I think every time I wear a kimono, it's a special occasion!) Seen here under a Bangasa, a Japanese traditional umbrella, the women sport Geta (wooden clogs) with the distinct "teeth" support pieces. This piece, Two women with parasol, Japan, taken between 1867 and 1869 comes from the National Library of New Zealand on The Commons, by Felice A. Beato.

Washing Kimonos is a fascinating photograph from the Oregon State University image archives with the "image description from historic lecture booklet: After the garment is cleansed it is stretched upon a board and placed in the sun to dry. This process saves ironing". 

For more information about experiencing "Adorning in Kimono" in Tokyo, please browse Sessions

Historical Images

Two women with a parasol, in traditional costume and footwear, Japan, taken between 1867 and 1869 by Felice A. Beato (1825-1908?). The original caption reads “out for an airing”. B&w original photographic print(s). ID: PA1-f-021-060. National Library NZ on The Commons.

Different ways of tying the Obi (kimono belt), Japan. Photograph donated by Doctor J. Johnsson. No. es_b_00654. National Museum of Denmark.

Japanese woman with mirrors. Accession Number: 1974:0034:0007 Maker: Shin-E-Do Date: ca. 1890 Medium: albumen print with applied color Dimensions: 26.6 x 20.0 cm. George Eastman House Collection.

New pieces from renown kimono houses usually fetch hair raising prices. The Jotaro Saito line showcases dynamic pieces with equally dramatic accessories. The Awai creations are the epitome of understatement with emphasis on the beauty of premier textiles, their esthetic is one of quiet elegance.

When visiting Tokyo, a gander through of the kimono floors of any of the major shopping departmental stores like Isetan, Matsuya, and Daimaru is an easy way to see the current kimono fashion. The kimono items are often on one of the top floors and there will be a good selection of new kimonos, kimono fabrics, obis and all the related accessories.