By Yumi Imai
Would you like to try wearing a kimono? Or would you like to enjoy the flavor of Japanese kimono fabrics? OK! I will take you to a perfect shop dealing in fabrics for kimono in Motomachi, Yokohama.
As you might know, the Japanese retailing system is complicated and the prices eventually become quite high for the end user. On the one hand, this is quite a reasonable system because everyone can have a job and a bit of profit. But on the other hand, it means everything is very expensive. The shop I will introduce to you today is doing wholesale business. If you try to get the same goods at a department store, you would have to pay more than double.
The kimono shop, Marunaka Gohukuten(丸中呉服店) is at 4-chome in the Motomachi shopping district. It is located on the main street. Marunaka also has several shops in Osaka and Tokyo area. Compared with their other shops, the shop in Motomachi isn't as big, but it's cozy and easy to look around in.
For a serious kimono lover
The price of a regular silk kimono ranges from 50,000 yen to…unlimited! And you also need some other sundries for it, such as obi (a broad sash), obiage (an obi bustle), obijime (an obi band), nagajuban (full-length undies worn under the kimono) and zouri (Japanese sandals). If you would like to learn how to put on a kimono properly, you can find several videos on YouTube. But even for Japanese, it's not so easy and people go to school to learn how to do it. On the other hand, yukata, which is a casual summer kimono made of cotton, is easier to wear (And, you can search how to put it on by using the key words below. Please copy and paste them into your YouTube search: 浴衣 着付け). The price for a yukata set, including ready-made yukata, obi, and geta starts at 3000yen, provided that you are less than 170cm high and 100cm in girth. Of course they can tailor it for you perfectly like an haute couture, although that service costs a little more and takes a little more time. If you need some advice, a salesperson will help you with pleasure.
For someone who wants to wear kimono in their own style
If you just want to enjoy the flavor of a kimono, you don't need to follow the traditional Japanese way. Rather, you can just fling on your kimono over your pajamas or underwear directly like a robe. Or, in combination with other clothes as a casual dress. Use your imagination and have fun with it! You can alos use the decorative strings or eko-obi (soft belt) to tie around your waist as you like. Obiage comes in quite a variety of colors and has a velvety touch to it. You can arrange it like a scarf, hair ornament, or belt.
For gift seekers
1) When the cold winds start to blow, hanten (a warm, casual short coat mainly worn at home) are displayed in front of the shop. They cost 3100yen to 4800yen. They are so light, warm and comfortable that even when it snows outside, I am absorbed in my book and forget all about the time in my lovely hanten.
2) Marunaka also sells bags and pouches made of kimono cloth. Their pouches with kimono design vary stylistically from chic to flamboyant and vary in size from palm size to notebook computer size. I bet you can enjoy yourself just looking at them!
To tell the truth, I wasn't keen on kimono when I was young, but now that I'm in my mid forties, I have become a big kimono fan. First my grandma sewed a nice yukata for me, and I went out with my friends wearing it for fireworks festivals. It was wonderful! I found myself to be a new and different person when wearing a yukata! And that was how it all started. I got several more yukata and kimono later, and wore them not only in Japan, but also in New York and in Wurzburg in Germany. So, I might meet you in kimono the next time I visit your country. Because you too will also be wearing a beautiful kimono, won’t you?!
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Japan is a small island nation, but we have a huge number of surprising things to discover here. Many of these delights can be found when you step off the main street onto small side paths. I really enjoy studying about and researching various aspects of traditional Japanese culture, and then sharing this information with visitors to Japan. I hope you will enjoy it, too! ARTICLE INDEX & PHOTOS: An index of most of my Japan Travel articles can be found at the entry page of my blog, and my photos are shown here. 日本はとても小さな国ですが、大通りから一本小道に入ればたくさんの発見があります。日本人が積み重ねてきた歴史を学びながら、古い建物や庭を訪ね、物語の舞台となった景色を眺めて、皆様といっしょに日本文化の奥深さを探求していきたいと思います。