Some outfits never go out of fashion and kimono are a prime example — they’ve been making people look elegant for centuries. It certainly isn’t cheap to buy a kimono in Tokyo though, unless you know where to look …
In today’s fashion world where unique stands above all, what’s more exclusive than the kimono? Leaders of the time-honored industry have traditionally catered to the status-conscious elite, but modern-day kimono designers and manufacturers are having a hard time selling what typically costs thousands of dollars to anyone who isn’t a refined and wealthy middle-aged Japanese woman. As a result, while much of the kimono industry is struggling to stay above water, budget secondhand shops are thriving.
You can pick up an authentic kimono in Tokyo for ¥10,000 or under, if you rustle around the right places. And you should be able to snag a yukata, the kimono’s casual summer cousin, for even less. Here are some suggestions on where to look.
Recommended kimono stores in Tokyo
One option is to head to shopping malls like Aeon and snag a brand new kimono off the rack. Regular shops like these sometimes have sales, though you usually get no more than 10% off. General secondhand clothing stores (furugiya) like Mode Off and Chicago (especially the branches in Harajuku) are also good choices. Alternatively, you could try one of the following kimono specialists.
Note: Most decent kimono shops will help with fittings, which can be complicated, and offer suggestions about matching items.
Tansuya | Multiple locations
Any of the numerous Tansuya stores are ideal places to score a routinely-offered discount, as well as face-to-face kimono dressing assistance. A popular chain that sells new and recycled kimono, Tansuya is a go-to choice for both kimono experts and newbies. Their secondhand kimonos start from a few thousand yen.
If you’re just after the experience, you can rent a yukata or kimono from Tansuya for around ¥4,000 for a day. Depending on the branch, you can complement your rental/shopping by exploring Japanese tea culture at the historic tea house district in Kagurazaka, ride a rickshaw in Asakusa, or do a bunch of equally cool stuff near the other stores scattered around Tokyo.
Sakaeya | Harajuku
One of Tokyo’s favorite secondhand kimono shops is only a five-minute walk away from JR Harajuku Station in Harajuku. The family that has been running Sakaeya for over 50 years is on Facebook and Tumblr (in English), making their social media a great place to start your kimono quest. Perhaps the ultimate in cheap kimono, Sakaeya not only sell secondhand kimono for as low as ¥5,000, they also rent them from ¥6,000, which includes dressing assistance and a mini tea ceremony.
Reservations are needed for both renting and buying — so have a look at their online shop and then book if you like the look of the place. For a little extra, you can join their dance and photo shoot events as well.
Note: Their CEO is an adorable cat named Totoro and their bucho, or department chief, is a raccoon who lives at nearby Meiji Jingu Shrine.
Miyoshiya | Nakano
This shop is one for the bargain hunters and the brave at heart. Miyoshiya deals in secondhand kimono and yukata in various styles (and conditions), as well as accessories like geta (traditional sandals worn with kimono),obi (the sashes worn with kimono) and bags/clutches. They even have kimono fabric if you’re a crafty type. You can pick up a real treasure for an incredible price – if you’re willing to search for it. The shop is actually spread out over three store spaces! The sheer number of items available is impressive with everything hanging (sometimes haphazardly) on racks with large hand written signs. The prices are indicated by the color of the hanger used, with black hanger items going for a bargain ¥550. Pink hanger items are the most expensive at ¥11,000, but most items are in the range of white hanger ¥1,100 to blue hanger ¥3,300.
To be honest, Miyoshiya definitely has a yard sale vibe and it’s location in the basement floor of Nakano Broadway also makes it all feel a little dingey, but if you’re a thrifter it’s nothing you can’t handle.
Note: The changing facilites here are somewhat limited, so don’t expect a full-service fitting that other places offer.
Some neighborhoods just have that traditional vibe that make them perfect places to hunt for kimono. Your best bet in these places is just to take your time and wander through the streets – there’ll be a number of small shops that specialize in kimono. You might also find some shops with a small rack of kimono even though their main schtick is something else entirely. It’s worth taking your time here and checking each place as you go, prices can vary significantly.
This old-school shopping street in Yanaka is a good place to start. Just five minutes from Nippori Station, Yanaka Ginza is famous for its street food, as well as kimono, yukata and all manner of other traditional Japanese clothes and homeware, including hanten—those short winter jackets you see older folks and hipsters sporting.
You can also have a gander at the goods in the Ameya-Yokocho market, commonly known as Ameyokocho or Ameyoko, in Ueno, as the stores there sometimes have discount yukata and kimono.
Check fleamarkets for cheap kimono
Tokyo has some of the best flea markets we’ve ever seen, and we’ve known people to pick up secondhand kimono for no more than a couple thousand yen — with the obi (kimono belt) and other necessary bits to boot. If you’re in the city when one of the bigger flea markets is on, it’s definitely worth having a look.
A couple of words of advice: Check the condition of the kimono carefully before buying, and try it on over your clothes if possible — we’ve known people to take home unexpectedly tiny kimonos that they have later had to foist onto tiny people.
If you don’t have the time/energy to rove around physical stores, don’t stress — a lot of new and secondhand kimono shopping can be done online. For example, mega-retailer Rakuten’s kimono page is a cheap, mix-and-match stop for easy access to inventory from hundreds of stores from all over Japan. It also gives you a quick and informative overview of the different types of kimonos and accessories out there. Kimono on Rakuten start from ¥5,000 or so up.
Renting a kimono in Tokyo
If you’d rather rent than buy, there are heaps of other Tokyo kimono rental options in addition to the ones we’ve mentioned above. Whether you’re wanting to see what it’s like to stroll around in a kimono before splashing out, or feel like one wear would be enough, check out our Tokyo kimono rental guide for ideas.
This Asakusa kimono experience is one we recommend.
So what about all those beautiful old kimono that don’t get worn anymore? Textile waste in the fashion industry is an ongoing issue, but you’ll be happy to know that there are many small businesses springing up that specialize in upcycling old kimono and obi into new items that can be used again. These can all make wonderful souvenirs, especially if a kimono is going to be too bulky for you to get home.
This company is a cheapo fave – you can read our interview with the founders here. They take secondhand obi and turn them into stunning guitar straps. You can visit their website here, but if you see something you like you’d better buy it quick – each strap is totally unique so you won’t have another chance.
If bags are more your style, then it’s worth checking out Mikan. These bags are made from antique kimono and obi sourced from all over Japan, making them incredibly stylish and practical. You can even request a custom order!
If you want a totally unique look – be it a dress, jumpsuit or matching set -this is the one for you. Tokyo Kaleidoscope uses a special technique to reconstruct kimono into modern wardrobe pieces with little-to-no fabric wasted in the process. Each piece is custom-made so you know you’re getting something no one else will have.
This article was first published in January, 2016. Last updated by Maria Danuco in August, 2022.