What is a Kimono Shop?

  • 2007.01.22 Monday
  • 19:24
What is a Kimono Shop?

We are asked this question frequently by non-Japanese.
At Sakae-ya, we buy kimono from craftspeople and sell them to customers. We don't sew fabric directly. We don't dye kimonos, or practice weaving.
So are we just a simple distributor of the traditional Japanese clothing called “kimono?”

I would like to say this is not true.

We don't make anything but we have to know every thing about kimonos very deeply. I prefer to say that a kimono shop acts more as a stylist and kimono artist.

When wearing kimono, it is more than just a simple garment. Many accessories are needed, for example, obi, decorative rope, covering-sash and so on. It is our work to suggest to customers the most complementary accessories for their kimono, body shape, personality, and lifestyle. Can you imagine? Every single item, including the kimono itself, obi, and other accessories are made by different creators without a thought of how to wear it them as an ensemble. I once got the chance to meet a kimono creator who is a Living National Treasure of Japan. He said he never thought about which obi was best suited to the kimonos he made. He just cares about making the most beautiful kimono possible. Many traditional craftspeople are similarly focused, and rely on kimono shops to bring their works to life on a person’s body.

Another reason we are here is that nowadays few Japanese are accustomed to wearing kimono regularly. Some people picture kimono only for weddings, with special obi and other accoutrements. So it is also our job to explain to people all the various occasions that kimono can be worn, introduce the various styles, and consider what Japanese call “TPO” – time, place, and occasion. Kimonos never change their shape but their fabrics and linings change depending on the season. During winter season, which type of kimono should you wear and which Obi is going well with it. For example, we wear lined kimono from October to May, unlined kimono in June and September, and a very thin kimono during the heat of summer. Also, it is best to choose obi that match the season’s kimono, another aspect that few are aware of. We aim to explain all these nuances and help customers pick the most comfortable and appropriate style.

Moreover, when we sell tailor-made kimonos (which is the most original way to buy kimono), we have another task, which is measuring customers’ body. We don’t sew the final product but must take careful measurements for the kimono craftperson to work from. When measuring the arm length, for instance, we don't measure only for the costumer who is in front of us, but also for their daughters and sons, even their grandchildren! Kimono is traditionally thought of as a clothing for three generations. We can't meet a customer’s grandchild, but we imagine they will be taller so we usually ask the craftsperson to allow plenty of extra fabric hidden in the garment.

It might be true that kimono shops are among the oldest Japanese small businesses. It was often said that Kosode shops (Kosode is an old name for kimono) existed in the Kamakura period (1185–1333). As a result, kimono shops have evolved into highly specialized and knowledgeable “clothing consultants,” sharing the history of Japanese aesthetics and ensuring that valuable kimonos will have a long life with their owners. Although it sounds strange, kimonos are like the highest-quality home appliances, ones that last and last with only occasional repairs. Their value and charm only increases with age and careful upkeep.

I have recently realized how much knowledge kimono shops must possess! I still have much studying to do, as the depth of kimono culture is constantly being revealed to me. I look forward to learning more and providing authentic kimono information to everyone that visits Sakae-ya.


Hi! I've just found your blog and I really enjoyed it. It is really excellent and educational!! Please don't stop writing your blog in English!
  • Eva
  • 2007/01/30 8:20 AM
Hi! I'm very interested in Kimono and I'm doing a Thesis for last year in my university for now.

And I'm really want to know about Kimono for 4 seasons, about their colors, motif, lining for each seasons. And it would be great if I got some picture about each one.

So, please let me know about "Kimono for 4 seasons" and I'll wrote your name in my Thesis credit, it's very neccessery for me by now. My thesis's deadline is 12 Feb.

Thank you very much.
  • Uki
  • 2007/01/31 1:23 AM
wow, it does take a lot of knowledge to run a kimono ya :) thank you for sharing with us!
  • adriene
  • 2007/02/01 8:14 PM
Thank you so much for visiting my bolg! Your words cheer me up. Yes I will keep blog. Howeve, I'm not sure I can manege to show the season of Kimono untill 14th of Feb. I am having many events now... Gomene.
  • Kahori OCHI
  • 2007/02/05 12:31 AM
Thank you very much, anyway I'm looking forward to read your article about 14th of Feb, can I?
  • Uki
  • 2007/02/05 8:25 PM
Uki Sorry I could not make time to write about season for Kimono.

It is difficult topics, because in the past we used the lunar colander and had different idea of season from the modern era in Japan. You know, we adopted the solar calendar.
In the lunar colander, today 16th of February was still December and winter. The 18th of Feb meant a new year and from the day we thought it became spring. I think you can find kimono for 4 seasons’ idea at Liza Crihfield Dalby’s book. I think she done great at her books about Kimono. Good luck! And I hope I have a chace to read your article if you wirte something from my idea.
  • Kahori OCHI
  • 2007/02/15 10:12 PM
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  • -
  • 2007/06/29 6:48 PM
Aloha Kahori,

I recently found your blog and it has some great information. I am working on a business project involving kimono fabric and have a few questions that I hope you may be able to answer concerning bulk ordering of fabric, and pricing.

Iknow that this is may not be your area of expertise but any information you can provide would be helpful. Please let me know if email is the easiest way to contact you.

  • John Inamine
  • 2009/02/07 10:03 AM
Thank you John for your visiting my site and giviming me comments.
Sorry for takig time to reply you. I suppose I lost the chnace to answer you. Hope your good luck to find the answer and bussiness!

  • Kahori
  • 2009/02/21 1:21 PM
Hi Kahori,

I am sorry that i did not check this website for your reply. I am still curious about Kimono material.

If you are not busy I hope to ask you some questions. You can email me if you are not busy.

  • John Inamine
  • 2009/06/23 12:47 PM
Hi John,

Sorry for always taking time. Maybe you can call at our shop and talk with my mother. You have Japnease family name so mihgt be able to talk with her in Japanease.

  • Kahori
  • 2009/08/14 5:32 PM



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