[JAPAN] Kyoto - My kimono experience

20:16 Travel Bunny 0 Comments

Kyoto, ancient capital of Japan, provides a perfect backdrop to take photographs while dressing up in kimono. It is one of the must-do things for ladies while visiting Kyoto. There are many kimono rental shops in Kyoto, especially around Gion or Kiyomizudera area, which are tourist hotspots. The shop I chose was Mission Gion, which is conveniently located in the Gion area.

After finding out that the weather forecast for the day I plan to dress up in kimono will be a rainy day, I decided to change my appointment to a day earlier. (The weather forecast in Japan is very accurate, if it says it will rain, it will probably rain for the whole day). After checking in to Super Hotel Shijyo Kawaramachi, I immediately headed to Mission Gion and enquired if I could change my appointment.

I booked an appointment with Mission Gion through their website. They sent a confirmation email to me which I printed out and showed to the staff.

Take note that Mission Gion kimono rental shop is in the basement. The first floor is for its professional hair salon. Fortunately, the staff at Mission Gion permitted me to change my appointment on the next day to 1pm on that day.

I still have two hours to kill before the appointment. So, I decided to fill my stomach with some food at Gion Tsujiri. Gion Tsujiri is a popular matcha (Japanese green tea) shop and dessert cafe in Kyoto. You can buy matcha and matcha related souvenir at the ground floor. To dine in, take the staircase and go to the first floor.

My sister ordered a time-limited sakura sundae while I ordered a matcha sundae. The dessert tastes as good as it looks. Two thumbs up!

Make-up service is not provided in Misison Gion. We were very lucky to have stumbled upon Yojiya (Kyoto’s famous cosmetic shop) in Gion, which offers free make up service. The logo’s motif of Yojiya is an ink painting of “a Kyoto woman reflected in a hand mirror”.

The staff in Yojiya were exceptionally polite, helpful and professional. They gave us full make up service, meticulously putting on make-up from foundation to eye shadows, blusher and lip colours!

The make-up service is free upon request, with no strings attached. But of course, my sister and I both bought something in the shop in return for their great services.

Later, we arrived at Mission Gion on time for our appointment.

There were plenty of kimono in various colours and designs in the shop. Kimonos hanging on white hangers are for basic package while kimonos hanging on black hangers are more expensive.

They have a few kimono rental plans. The cheapest is Silver plan (4,860 yen with limited selection of kimono), followed by Gold plan (5,940 yen with wider selection of kimono) and lastly, Premium plan (8,640 yen for any kimono in the shop including the exclusive ones).

DSC07368You can freely choose any obi belt to go with your kimono.  If you are not sure on which to choose, you can ask the staff for their opinion and they’ll gladly help you to choose. One tip about choosing kimono is to choose one in vibrant colours instead of pastel colours, so that you will look striking in your photographs. For the obi belt, you can either choose one in contrast colour or complimentary colour to your kimono.

I chose a purple geometrical design kimono with a red obi belt while my sister chose a blue floral design kimono with a pink obi belt.

One thing I like about Mission Gion is that they offer complimentary hair set session, which is available in three different style to choose from. The hair setting session was really quick - it took just 10 minutes for the staff to braid, pin and set my hair in place. If you want a more authentic hair set with hair ornament, you will need to pay additional 1,620 yen. This was how my hair looked from behind.

My sister’s hair ornament was more elaborate in design, and she paid additional 500 yen for it.

After setting my hair, the staff helped me dress into the kimono. It was a fairly long and tedious procedure which takes about 20 minutes. However, the lady made it look effortless and I was in my kimono in no time. A big, black bag was provided for me to store my belongings, clothes and shoes in the shop while I’m out sightseeing in kimono. However I still carried my valuables with me as I could keep these in a matching hand bag provided by the shop.

Last but not least, we got to choose a hand bag and a pair of slippers to complete the look. Complimentary socks were provided. The whole process takes about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how long you spend on choosing the kimono.

The staff helped us to take a photograph in the shop before we were off on our way.

Look at the before-and-after photo I took of my sister. It makes a big difference, right?

Overall, I am quite satisfied with the kimono rental service at Mission Gion. The kimono all look new and the design is more contemporary as compared to other shops. I love my hair do and how I looked dressing in kimono. Communication is not a problem. The staff can converse in basic English. The kimono dressing process is seamless, and the staff were very professional and efficient in what they do.

But I wish I was better informed about all the all the add-ons that are NOT included in the package: under shirt, decorative belt and hair ornaments.

How much does it cost?
I paid 7,236 yen in total for the package including 8% tax. The breakdown of the cost is kimono rental (5,500 yen), under shirt (500 yen), decorative belt (500 yen) and basic-single-flower hair ornament (200 yen), all price without tax.

P/S: Mission Gion status on Tripadvisor is closed and the website is no longer accessible. Unfortunately the shop is closed indefinitely. But it was definitely open during my visit in March 2018.

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