When a Kimono is not a Kimono

Friendly Friday’s Challenge is TOURISM.

This brought to mind an old post I had about an unexpected surprise in Japan. Sometimes we go to places looking for tradition only to find them not so authentic.

Tourism can be a double edged sword. The things that attract tourism can also be destroyed by over tourism. It’s easy to find examples of where this is true but that’s too depressing.  Here’s an example of tourism or in this case, tourists adding to the charm of Japan’s local sights.

When is a kimono not a kimono? In summer, when it’s called a Yukata.  Actually, a yukata is a lighter, more casual version of the kimono, typically made with unlined cotton fabric.  Kimonos are far more formal, have more layers of clothing and are traditionally made with heavy, lined silk.

Where in Japan is the best place  to do street photography of people in kimonos?   In Kyoto and Osaka … but it probably won’t be Japanese in those kimonos.

Dressing-up in a kimono for day is a popular tourist activity. For about 3,000 yen you can be fully  outfitted in a kimono of choice complete with make-up, hair styling and wooden shoes. For an additional fee you can even ‘rent’ a photographer the day.  In Kyoto I saw many young ladies in kimono/yukatas walking about.  I admired their vigor, especially  on the hot (36F degrees) days of August when I was melting in my shorts & t-shirt.

Yukatas at Sumiyoshi temple in Osaka

The ladies in kimonos offered good context for my holiday pictures.  Harder to find were interesting street shots.

My ‘Red Kimono’ picture was taken in Kyoto’s Shirakawa-minami Dori district. I like it because of the initial focus on the brilliant red pattern on the furi sleeve, then the elaborate obi tie in the back and finally, the girl’s incongruously blue french nails.

Kyoto & Osaka, Japan. August 2017


  1. Oh yes, I noticed her nails 😊 3000 yen, that’s not too much – I can understand the attraction in this social media world. Anything for photos with a new angle. I recently read another blog post on the subject, slightly more critical. Apparently, not all locals like the trend. Again, understandable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I view it as a relatively harmless way of having fun. In Seoul the tourism board encourages it by giving free admission to city museum/parks to those in traditional dress, on selected days or events. I can’t remember seeing that in Japan but I wouldn’t be surprised if its there too. I understand though, why some locals dislike it.

      Liked by 1 person

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