Do you want to try on a real Kimono? If your answer is “Yes”, then Kitsuki is a place for you! Recently, my friend and I spent a day there trying on Kimono for the first time ever, and we loved it!
Since it’s a small city, most of the foreigners, seem to have never heard of Kitsuki. Kitsuki is located in Oita prefecture (near Fukuoka city, only about 2 hours if taking a highway bus, and around 1 hour 15 minutes if taking a train), Kyushu Island. Owing to its classic and ancient streets, this city is called “Little Kyoto”. It’s famous for Kimono rental for professional photography, and many special discounts at museums, restaurants and cafés.
Before coming to the Kimono rental shop, a reservation is recommended. The staff can speak both Japanese and English, so don’t worry! We took a train from Beppu station at about 9.40am, arrived at Kitsuki station in 15 minutes, then took a bus to Warakuan Kimono rental shop. We picked the Kimonos of our choices, and the staff picked the “belt” and prepared the inner wears.
Warakuan Kimono rental shop
First, we put on the special white socks that are designed to wear Geta or, the Japanese “flip-flop”. Then the shop staff helped us to dress up. I was dressed in a white inner layer followed by a cute pink floral motifs Kimono. The most uncomfortable part when wearing a Kimono was the “belt” which was tied around my waist VERY tightly and hurt my back a bit, but that was how it worked as a corset. Then, some cloth strings were also tied around my waist for decoration. My friend told me it took about an hour to finish dressing up, but I didn’t count the time as I was busy observing the staff putting it on me, and I found it to be very interesting. For the first time in my life, I saw a kind of costume of which only dressing process was already too complicated. Before leaving for the tour around this small ancient place, we rented purses, hair ornaments and umbrellas. The staff gave us the map of this area and circled some museums and art galleries which are free of charge for their customers.
We walked to Suya no Saka, a long staircase leading to some small old roads in Japanese style, and a photographer was there waiting for us. As we came to Kitsuki on the Kimono Appreciation Day, the photography was free. We took photos and continued walking to ancient houses where we enjoyed looking at the Japanese traditional dolls.
Me at Isoyatei (name of the house) garden
Me walking down on Kanjoba no Saka
We had lunch at Maru Restaurant, a nice place, and got free mini desserts (chocolate ice cream) because we were wearing Kimono.
Then we went to the Historical museum. It has three floors, but we didn’t have enough time, so we only visited the first and second floors. On the first floor, there was a very beautiful city model of Kitsuki. On the second floor, the main concept of exhibitions was military of the ancient times.
At the lobby
As the Kimono rental time was due by 4pm, we headed back to the shop to return the Kimono at about 3.45pm. Before leaving, we got the photos taken in the morning and surprisingly, were also given two oranges as a small gift from the shop owing to Kimono Appreciation Day. At the end, we both enjoyed our time in the lovely small city, Kitsuki.
Note: Kimono Appreciation Day is the 3rd Saturday of every month.