One of the best places I visited when I was in Tokyo recently was Gallery Kawano, a vintage kimono shop, tucked away in Omotosando. For anyone who might be visiting at some point, I suggest you bookmark this post, because it’s a complete treat of a store, with surprisingly reasonable prices (which is saying something for Japan).
I was tipped off about it by global shopping guru (and TWR reader, luckily) Cesca Muston, who spends more time than is probably good for her roving the world looking for for inspiring stores to visit (as part of her job at WGSN, I know, tough one eh?). It’s worth the trip for colour and print inspiration alone, but if you fancy a printed kimono (they make lovely dressing gowns as well as beautiful jackets) this really is the place to visit. Short ones start at about £50-£60.
The shop specialises in both special vintage and rare patterned kimonos and ones that are more ‘second hand’, there are also lots of the indigo dye ones which men can wear and piles of obi belts in a huge variety of prints and colours. If you are a fabric hoarder, you could go quite mad trying to choose which ones to buy (they are about £30 each, which is reasonable as there is masses of fabric in an obi).
The best find for me, was the patchwork pieces, sold in bundles of 20 good size rectangles, which the shop makes up from old kimonos that are no good to sell as garments. These come in brightly coloured silk bundles, indigo bundles and cotton gauze bundles at about £10 each, needless to say I bought one of each. You can see them on the counter, bottom picture.
We learnt that in Japan, kimono sleeves -which are often huge- were where bribes were hidden during the Shogun era, hence instead of referring to a shady deal being ‘under the table’, the Japanese refer to it as ‘under the kimono sleeve’.The word kimono means ‘the thing worn’ and although I hardly saw anyone in Tokyo wearing one, out in Kyoto (Japan’s original capital) I saw more and the Japanese government is trying to encourage women to wear the kimono more often, so as not to lose the cultural importance of the dress.
Piles of obi belts in a million colours. Obi belts can be very wide or just a hand’s width, depending on the occasion. Due to the simple structure of the kimono shape, all the effort goes into the print, colour and combination of accessories worn with it.
The indigo dye kimonos are good for men, the range of geometric patterns on the prints is immense.
The shop is run by a mother and daughter, below is the daughter, mum is skulking out the back, not wanting to have her photo taken.
The shop has a website here and its address is Flats Omotosando 102, 4-4-9 Jingumae Sibuya-ku, Tokyo. It’s tricky to find, tucked away behind Omotosando Hills.
Further reading on Kimonos can be found on the V&A’s website here
I frequently travel to Japan from Australia and am always surprised when people describe Japan and Tokyo in particular as expensive. My experience is this is a myth and the perpetuation of it discourages people from travelling there.
That said, I will certainly be seeking this shop out when I return next year.
oh how amazing. I love kimono, fabulous colours and patterns. I had always assumed that even secondhand ones would be prohibitively expensive. All the things I could do with the patchwork squares (forgets mounds of fabric already in cupboard) . I’ve only been to Osaka, not tokyo or Kyoto and would love to see both. GG
What a gorgeous shop. I’m seriously drooling over these. We’ve been trying to find a kimono collector to feature on Obsessionistas for ages.
Helen, I was remarkably reserved when I shopped here, buying only bundles of patchwork pieces, but now I’m being seduced by my own photos and wondering why I didn’t buy the whole shop…the variety of prints was wonderful. A kimono collector MUST be found! Ax
OMG – I would seriously sell my right arm for a kimono jacket like any of the ones in your pictures – the Obi belt’s – ahhhh awesome – I love it all – I need to go to Tokyo NOW seriously – how can I persuade the husband that Tokyo needs to be our next holiday destination not Australia ?!!!
Wow, you were very restrained. When are you going back? I’d like to place an order!
Hm now there’s an idea, if I take enough orders I might justify another trip! If anyone’s interested, there’s a very nice lady who has a good kimono stall at Hammersmith Vintage Fair too, she’s worth a visit if it’s closer than Tokyo. Ax
These are amazing. I’ve always admired how beautiful Kimono’s can be. I was just listening to a piece about the making of them. It seems like the tradition of hand making them is falling by the way side. It’s labour intensive and more expensive than the mass production way of making them. We should really cherish these while we can.
I actually went to the shop it is GREAT!!!! Thanks for this! I bought two gorgeous pieces for less than 60€. A must for vintage kimono lovers travelling to Tokyo.