One of the many things that I find remarkable about Japan is its strong respect for tradition. While many influences from other countries become incorporated into modern Japanese society, some traditional elements remain constant. Isn't it wonderful that traditional Japanese clothes are still worn today? Although, most people prefer the comfort and convenience of Western style clothing for everyday wear, it is not uncommon to see women in kimono on their way to the supermarket, waiting on the platform of the shinkansen, or a kimono-clad family at a shrine. Kimono is not clothing of the past, a costume of a by-gone era to be displayed only in museums. Kimono still clothes the people of modern Japan.
At Mine Kimono Store, a local business located adjacent to Doho Park, the employees dress you in beautiful kimono or yukata and take professional photos of you in a variety of poses in a well equipped studio area. They offer a fan or umbrella and geta sandals as accessories before snapping the photos. I went with a friend and took individual photos, as well as shots with the two of us together. After viewing the pictures on a computer, we picked which photo appealed to us the most. With a smile on our faces from the wonderful service, we left with a beautiful souvenir of our experience in customary Japanese dress.
Traditional Japanese dress, the kimono, has remained relatively unchanged since the Heian period (794-1192), and was originally inspired by the Chinese in the 5th century, according to Wikipedia.org.
The highest quality women's kimono is made of silk with widely varying colors, patterns, embroidered or stenciled embellishments, and differing sleeve lengths. All of these elements have subtle social and symbolic meanings, as well as certain colors and patterns being appropriate only during specific seasons. Kimono is a "one size fits all" piece of clothing, so the extra fabric is carefully folded and tucked under a wide sash belt called an obi. A traditional kimono can have more than twelve separate pieces, each secured in a specific way, and many women require assistance to wear one. Most women, nowadays, own just one kimono presented to them at age nineteen for their coming of age ceremony. Often, women wear kimono on special occasions rather than on a daily basis. Cotton yukata robes help alleviate the heat during the hot, humid days of summer. Geta, or wooden sandals, and white tabi socks complete the traditional outfit.
Men's kimono tend to be made of subtle, dark hues like black, dark blue, and green and end at the waist. Patterns are simple and commonly have three or five kamon, or family crests. Hakama, undivided or divided wide pants, and haori, a longer kimono coat, finish off men's formal dress.
If you have never had the opportunity to dress in kimono/yukata, I highly recommend it! Mine Kimono Shop displays all its beautiful merchandise artfully. The customer service is top notch and they offer a variety of exquisite new kimono and obi.
Here are the details:
Mine Kimono Shop (a few doors down from Morgen Bakery, adjacent to Doho Park)
Open Friday to Tuesday from 10am to 7pm
Take advantage of this special offer on June 10th and 11th (please arrive before 6 p.m.) or call for reservations on other days.
Take your family (men's and limited children's sizes available -- call to check), friends, that special someone, or just go on your own for a unique experience in traditional Japanese dress. Let's support this local business that is reaching out to the international community!
The International Women's Network (IWN) is a group of women who enjoy chatting with people from all over the world. We hold a monthly potluck dinner where we exchange information about the local community while eating a variety of foods. No reservation is needed to attend the potluck. Just bring one dish of food and show up at the meeting. Newcomers are always welcome! Take advantage of this unique opportunity to enjoy the international city of Tsukuba with us!
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