Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kimono Shopping in Japan

My mom has been into Asian collectibles ever since I can remember—she even has an Asian-inspired room in the house I grew up in. So when I told her I was going to Japan and Korea for two weeks this summer, she (of course) wrote out a laundry list of things that would be perfect for her beloved room. On the top of her list was a traditional kimono—something I thought would be easy to pick up and highly marketed to tourists.

Surprisingly, I had no such luck in Tokyo and put my hopes into finding a reasonably priced one in some of Kyoto’s famed shopping districts. When we arrived via bullet train, I saw many women sporting kimonos about town. (I love how the image at left captures traditional Japanese culture fused with modern cell-phone technology. Given that Japan is so far ahead with m-commerce, I find this picture both ironic and fitting.)

For some reason, even in Kyoto, I still couldn’t get my hands on a kimono. The few I did see on display far exceeded my budget. Feeling defeated, I figured the search for her kimono was a lost one.

That is until my good friend and travel companion Sharon ran into the fast-fashion apparel chain Uniqlo to pick up some t-shirts before continuing on our trip. While looking around, my eyes set on something I never expected to see there: An entire kimono section in the middle of the store. Cheap! Stylish! Perfect.

And just like that, my quest—one that included hours of rummaging through markets and stores for affordable kimonos—came to an end. Why hadn’t I thought of the popular Japanese retailer before? I have often shopped at its global flagship (and largest location) in Manhattan’s SoHo district since it opened nearly two years ago.

My mom loved the kimono—and for all she knows, I shelled out the big bucks to get her exactly what she wanted.

—Samantha Murphy


inyyashasworld said...

beautiful i greatly admire those kimonos

Cassie said...

I agree with you.. The next time that I'll visit Japan, I'll purchase a couple of these kimonos than the last time..

japan shopping

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