The Best Kimono Experiences Throughout Japan

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Take in the sights of Japan while dressed in a kimono

Travelling to new and exciting places means more than just taking a holiday – it also beckons us to step outside our comfort zones to fully immerse ourselves in culture. Sometimes this can be challenging, like eating exotic foods we wouldn’t normally try, and at other times it can be a fresh experience that we should feel honoured to be able to take part in.

One simple yet beautiful way to learn more about Japanese culture is to don a kimono to explore the sights in. By taking the time to hire a kimono, you will be fitted and dressed properly; each drape, fold and tie executed precisely according to the way it was supposed to be worn.

We’ve done the hard work and found the best places to hire a kimono in each of the major cities in Japan, as well as identifying an Insta-ready location to be photographed in it. You’re welcome.

1. Tokyo

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Take the stress out of capturing the perfect shot

As you can imagine in a big city like Tokyo, there are loads of places to dress up in a whole range of costumes and traditional dress. Most will require that you are left to your own devices and have to take your own photos, which sucks if you don’t have an Instagram husband. By opting for a walking tour, you can relax and act naturally because the paparazzi are on to it! Your professional photographer will take you to all the prettiest shrines and gardens and coolest streets so that you can pose up a storm and have fabulous photos to take home (or post on social media) to remember your time in Tokyo by.

If you or someone you are travelling with happens to be a wiz with a camera, you can just as easily hire a kimono without having to book a photography package.

Insta-worthy moment: Any manicured garden or carefully restored temple creates the perfect backdrop and Tokyo is full of them.

2. Osaka

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This diverse city provides lots of photo ops

Osaka is a modern city with ancient roots. The area of Hozenji-Yokocho has an old timey feel, with cobbled streets and buildings complete with original facades that will meld beautifully with the vision of you, dressed in your kimono.

Alternatively, the bustling city, skyscrapers and bright lights will juxtapose stunningly against the traditional outfit you are dressed in, creating the kind of sartorial moment you would only find on the pages of Vogue.

Insta-worthy moment: The undeniably Japanese city scape featuring a blurred, swarming crowd and bright lights in the background (with you perfectly in focus in the foreground). 

3. Ishikawa

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Choose from dozens of different kimonos

Hiring a kimono doesn’t just mean slipping on a robe; you will be provided with the full kit, including socks, undershirt, obi and sandals and assisted in dressing so that you look the part. In the coastal area of Ishikawa, men, women and children can all experience this tradition, with different offerings available to suit gender preferences.

Insta-worthy moment: with its patchwork-like rock walls and historical sentimentality, Kanazawa creates an interesting backdrop and another cultural experience not to be missed.

4. Kyoto

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The deer at Nara Park will come right up to you

If you are visiting Kyoto, you simply must add a day trip to Nara Park to your itinerary. Nara itself is home to other attractions including the Nara National Museum and Todaji, a temple that was constructed in 752 (nope, that isn’t missing a ‘1’ from the front). The star attraction, however, is definitely Nara Park, which is home to at least 1,000 deer who have grown accustomed to human visitors and are very pleased to greet them for gentle pats and food.

Nara is approximately one hour from Kyoto by train, which means you have lots of time left in your day to explore. What better way to do so than dressed in a beautiful kimono? It will make your photos extra special.

Insta-worthy moment: You’re in a park that’s full of friendly deer. What *isn’t* an insta-worthy moment in this situation?

5. Hokkaido

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A unique opportunity to learn a traditional instrument

Culture comes at ya with a *pow pow* double hit in Hokkaido when you learn to play the Japanese harp (AKA Koto) as part of your kimono experience. Something even the most musically challenged can have a crack at, you will be taught a traditional song about another discernibly Japanese icon, the cherry blossom, once you have been fitted for a kimono of your choosing. Who knows, the power of looking so gorgeous might even give you the confidence to pick this new instrument up with ease and you’ll be putting on performances for your friends in no time. 

Insta-worthy moment: Obviously it’s a candid of you, looking stunning in your rented kimono, casually playing the Koto as if this isn’t the first time you’ve ever seen one. 

6. Okinawa

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Learn the differences between the kimonos

The kimonos worn in Okinawa, a prefecture of Japan that is made up of more than 150 islands, differs to those traditionally found on mainland Japan in a number of ways.

While both styles of kimono act as a palette for intricate patterns made up of vibrant colours, the Okinawan kimonos tend to be even bolder, have a sort of tropical flare and are considered to be a more formal traditional dress.

A ryusou kimono found in Okinawa will have large, open sleeves, which are designed for the sea breeze to flow through and the fabric is generally thinner and made from the fibres of bashofu, a local plant.

Is anyone else getting Japanese Moana vibes here? By renting a kimono in Okinawa you can learn more about the differences between mainland and island kimonos and get some unique photos to top off the experience. 

Insta-worthy moment: Wander around Naha, a city with a distinctly different ambiance to other areas of Japan you would have visited. This place has a tropical feel, so you are bound to grab some unusual shots not typically taken by those visiting places like Tokyo or Osaka.  

7. Hiroshima

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Immerse yourself in Japanese culture

Tea is not only an enormous part of Japan’s culture but most Asian cultures in general and if you have ever travelled to a country like China or Korea and not taken part in a tea ceremony you must, must, must do one while you are in Japan. 

To partake in a matcha tea ceremony while dressed in a kimono would truly be the icing on the cake and is something you can do in Hiroshima. Children from the age of six and up can also attend and it’s a fabulous way to introduce them to principles of patience and discipline. 

A tea ceremony is a very special experience that, as a traveller, really can’t be replicated back home and is just so soothing for the soul. It’s safe to say we could all use a warm hug from the inside right now and there is no doubt that while visiting this city you will be reflecting on the major tragedy that took place here during World War II. This makes for an even more compelling reason to take some time to just be.  

Insta-worthy moment: A totally blissed-out shot of you and your friends at peace and drinking tea. Did someone say perfection?

8. Fukuoka

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A relaxing three-kilometre ride down the Yanagawa River

Picture it: you, your partner or friends and even your children all kitted out in kimonos and cruising down the Yanagawa River taking in the sights. Dreamy, huh? Well, this dream could become a reality in Fukuoka.

Splendid year ‘round, but particularly lovely in Spring (thanks, cherry blossoms!), this area is considered to be Japan’s version of Venice, with narrow waterways infusing the city with a romantic charm.

If there’s anything more picturesque than being guided through the canals on a gondola while you sit back looking extra gorgeous in your kimono, we wanna know about it!

Insta-worthy moment: Just before or after you pass Yaemon Bridge, a sweet little wooden bridge that could be straight out of Monet’s Garden.

9. Kumamoto

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Kimono rentals are available for the whole family

Kumamoto is most famous for its castle, which was built almost 600 years ago. It seems under these circumstances it’s only fitting that you would take this opportunity to dress like royalty, pretend you’re a princess and pose up a storm.

Insta-worthy moment: It’s not just women who can enjoy this experience. In Kumamoto, kimono rental is available to men, women and children from the age of three and up – imagine the family photos!

10. Tokyo… yes again!

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You will have access to a professional team

Yes, we already gave you one suggestion for renting a kimono in Tokyo but we felt like you deserved another. This one is a little bit more spesh and would suit those who have ever dreamed of being yelled at by Tyra Banks to SMIZE more. 

That’s right, you can play supermodel for the day complete with a personal stylist, makeup artist and hairdresser who will make you look fine as hell before you ham it for the cameras, pose with some props and get. that. shot.

If you are always the one taking photos of others, now is your time to shine. Not only will you have loads of fun being made over by the professionals, you will go home with digital copies of all the photos from the day ready to load straight up to social.