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“Kyoto Kimono Dress-up Experience-- Rental Kimono Okamoto”
Review of Kyoto

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Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
114 helpful votes
“Kyoto Kimono Dress-up Experience-- Rental Kimono Okamoto”
Reviewed 15 December 2009

I just returned from a trip in Kyoto. Before I left, I tried to do some homework on kimono dress-up and found very few reviews/ information in English. Now that I am back with more complete information and the real experience, I'd like share it.

First, General Background info: there are two different types of dress-up: a) Geisha/ Maiko dress-up and b) regular kimono dress-up. Each type comes with different pricing plans, such as:
1) the cheapest: dress up/ hair do + strolling (you wear the clothes and strolling in the neighborhood/ on the street) you take your own photos--> usually only works with regular kimono rental @3000~5000 Yen
2) dress up/ make up, indoor studio shots, @6500 Yen
3) dress up/ make up, indoor studio shots, strolling
4) the most expensive: dress up/ make up, indoor studio shots and outdoor photographer shots, strolling--> usually the Geisha/ Maiko combo @16000Yen and above

Regular kimono strolling is usually 1 full day, while Geisha/ Maiko strolling is usually within 1 hour.
Regular kimono dress-up often comes with a modern hair-do but not the white face make-up. Geisha/ Maiko dress up is more a makeover with complete white powder make-up and a big traditional wig. Both should come with all accessories, such as sandals, socks, hand bag...etc.

Common mistake: Tourists often think the Geisha/ Maiko them met around shrines/ temples are real Geishas and girls in kimono are fakes.

As a matter of fact, Geisha/ Maiko they met are very likely fake because real Geisha/ Maiko often don't need to go to shrines in these outfits at 2 pm and there are many Geisha/ Maiko dress-up studios around shrines/ temples. It has become an interesting sightseeing experience for Japanese or people who are interested in Japanese culture as well.

As for the girls in kimono, they are not trying to be a Geisha/ Maiko, i.e. not fake. They are just wearing a traditional women's formal dress, either their own or rental, to visit the shrine/ temple. It is considered nostalgia and romantic to wear a kimono while appreciating the historical sites in Kyoto. There are men renting traditional clothes for a stroll, too. So it's much more like renting an evening gown or tuxedo on a trip.

Second, the real experience: After comparing all the shops/ plans, I found online, I decided to do the cheapest one-- 1 full day, regular kimono rental with Rental Kimono Okamoto.

Its location is very convenient and popular, right outside of the Kiyomizu Temple, a UNESCO heritage site, and Jishu Shrine, a shrine for good marriage/ relationship. Nearby steep and busy lanes in the Higashiyama area is great for strolling. I decided not to go too far away from the studio, just in case any wardrobe malfunction.

I arrived at the main shop at 9:30 am (open @ 9 am). I chose their most expensive plan @5250 Yen and there were hundreds and hundreds of kimonos to choose from. First I was given a big bag with my name on to put all my belongings in. Then I had to choose the kimono, an Obi belt to go with it and a pretty string to decorate the belt. The woman on the first floor speaks some English and is pretty good at color/ pattern matching. I chose a pink peony kimono so she found a two-side, two-tone maroon color Obi belt with matching pattern, plus a pearl string for me. They do offer kimonos in different sizes, such as L, Tall...etc. I wore a size L.

Then off to the second floor where an old lady undressed and dressed me. She doesn't speak English and I speak zero Japanese, but we somehow were able to communicate well. Everything had to be off and into the big bag, except underwear. then, one base layer of white robe, one middle layer of fancy collar robe; At last, the kimono I picked (i.e. you can see different but matching collars). In between, she tied towels, even a plastic board, to keep me in good posture. With a good posture, she could finally make a butterfly-like knot with the Obi belt on my back. This store does more younger-look, fancy knots, rather then the married women pillow knots. Anyway, think Scarlet Ohara and breathe when she does this.

Then I was sent to the next room for hairdo. The hairdressers speak some English. They had curling iron, rollers and everything. They offered 3 types up-dos, from mature to younger looks, and I can add decorative hair accessories at 500 Yen each. One furry white hair accessory and 20 hair pins later. I came out great!

Then I went downstair again to choose a pair of socks that I can take with me, and a handbag to swap out my modern backpack. My feet are large so I didn't get to choose the socks with lace trim. : ( Then I went to the next room to choose a coat and a scarf because it is chilling in December. I got a teak rose coat that matches my pink kimono/ maroon obi belt, and a white furry scarf to match my hair accessory. Remember to choose a bigger handbag for digital camera, wallet, passport...etc stuffs. They keep your belongings and clothes until you return. I think there was an extra charge for sending your clothes back to your hotel. I didn't use it.

Finally, one hour later, around 10: 45 am, I slipped into the sandals and started my day as an ancient person in Kyoto.

Because it's maple viewing season, the shop doesn't close until 7:30 pm to accommodate customers going to night visits at shrines. I walked to Kiyumizu Temple, Jishu Shrine and Kodaiji Temple, took lots, lots of photos and had Yutofu in a traditional restaurant for lunch. Overall, I would say it is a great experience and worth every penny of it. I would definitely recommend Rental Kimono Okamoto.

93 Thank LittleBackpack
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 4 Contributor
36 reviews
26 helpful votes
“Kyoto in Dec in 1.5 days”
Reviewed 15 December 2009

While many would aruge that kyoto cannot be seen in less than 2 ,3 days minimum , i thought I got a really good flavour of Kyoto within 1.5 days. Maybe its because I am not a Big temple person , more the kind that like to walk around busy streets and small lanes and try new food. Hence just to share on the itin for those who might want to get max the a 1.5 day window with a small budget. Also I had a lonely planet guide which make it possible.

Day 1.
Arrived at 6 pm at Kyoto station. First go to info kiosk , get a bus guide and a 500 yen one day bus pass ( which i used on day 2)

7 pm : Checked in Matsubaya Inn ( walking distance from kyoto station) and proceeded to take bus to Gion area

8 pm : Gion area is a beautiful place to walk around at night, full of life and quaint little shops. ( i used the lonely planet walking guide on "Gion at night")

9 pm: Ended up walking from Gion to Pontocho and had dinner there. This is a most amazing little street cramped with eateries which everyone should go take a look. some places are quite ex, but if you look hard enough , there are some great places( with enlgihs menu) to have a nice dinner for around 3000 yen

10+ pm: Took a bus back to the Inn from downtown kyoto ( note : buses end around this time. so any later would have to be the subway)

day 2: ( using the 500 yen bus pass)
9 pm : Followed the 4 hour walking trail in lonely planet guide which started from Gojozaka bus stop and ended at HIgashiyama subway. This covers all the important temples ( which i only saw from the outside) and some of the nicest streets in kyoto. I did this route in about 3 hours. It would have have been possible without the guide as there is no clear direction from one major spot to another , and you might miss all the small alleys , so the quide is highly recommended.

Lunch : Karako Ramen( 20 min walk from Higashiyama) . This was recommended in Lonely Planet as the best Ramen place in Kyoto and it was sure worth the 20 min walk! Coming from Singapore where Ramen is easily found, this was still the best ramen i ever had , all for 480 yen! You have to get the LP guide book to get instructions on how to get there.

Miday - Had to shift hotel so if you dont have to do what I did , you can head straight to Arashiyama , which i did in the evening.

4pm - explored Nikishi market , do recommend everyone to make a stop there, lots of local food to try out and the walk is quite an experience !

5 pm - Headed to Arashiyama as they had the christmas light up. It was definitely worth going esp with the light show ongoing now. Place was full of life , and you just had to follow the crowds from the JR station as everyone was headed in ther same direction. There was a carnival atmosphere going on , lots of food to try and the bamboo forest was beautiful .

8 pm - headed back to Gion /Ponchoton area for dinner again , walked around still the shops closed.

11 Thank treetop193
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vancouver, Washington
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
2 helpful votes
“Amazing place to visit in Japan”
Reviewed 23 October 2009

Kyoto is a city of many temples and shrines, tasty food, terrific public transportation, and is fairly clean. Before I went I thought I would feel crowded due to the number of people, but in most areas it was a lot calmer and felt much less crowded than other cities I have been in. I recommend at least a week, if you are visiting, and longer if you can.

2 Thank InquisitiveGirl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Long Branch, New Jersey
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
23 helpful votes
“Kyoto, a wonderful city to visit”
Reviewed 8 October 2009

During July 2009 my wife and I spent 10 thoroughly enjoyed days in Kyoto, with the final day the climax of the Gion Matsuri. Conveniently located, we stayed at the Hearton Hotel-- which is in walking distance to many restaurants, to Nishi Market and onto Gion district. Ten days is not too much time to stay in Kyoto, in fact we barely saw all that we wanted. Kyoto is magical. Not only is everything clean and public transportation easy to navigate, it is the beautifully maintained temples and gardens that truly amaze the visitor. The Sanjusangen-do, for me, is an extraordinary place rich with history -- both the sculpture and architecture is 'awesome' in the true sense of the word. So many other temples are worthy of your consideration (and all the tourist books list them). When not enjoying gardens/temples, we enjoyed walking Pontocho (where I was able to get a good photo of two Maiko (apprentice geisha).
Of course there are some tourist traps to avoid, but nothing too unpleasant. People are very nice and though English is not often spoken we often pointed to a place on a map and people were quick to set us (at least) in the right direction. Hopefully we will be able to visit again, it is definitely worth a second look.

1 Thank A3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles, California
Level 4 Contributor
15 reviews
17 helpful votes
“Charming Asia Tours - Japan”
Reviewed 11 May 2009

This year I went to Japan Kansai area late Feb. and came back early March with Charming Asia Tours. I absolutely loved it! I was there for 8 days. Visited Osaka, Kyoto, Himeji, Kobe. I took a sushi class, tried on a kimono, took a Japanese caligraphy class, meditated for 20 minutes with a Buddhist monk. Visited beautiful Temples. I ate the greatest foods ever. I absolutely loved my tour, I was in heaven for those 8 days. I shopped around until I found the best prices and with great service too. They over delivered and I had such a memorable and fun time. I highly recommend them to anyone in the USA.

Thank handycrafter77
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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