Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kimono Weekend in Sapporo!

I visited Sapporo, Hokkaido over this past Obon break for a couple of days, where I and a friend ran across an awesome mini "omikoshi" street festival, visited several kimono shops and a flea market, and randomly saw around ten people on the street in kimono in just two days (a huge number for what I'm used to seeing in my city of Akita). I also purchased some kitsuke-related books at the huge Kinokuniya bookstore. Here's the view from the hotel of Sapporo Station. :)

First, the festival! While walking through downtown Sapporo, Sunday the 19th, we bumped into this small neighborhood event: a local temple had sent out its holy artifact in a parade, where the artifact is carried around in a special "portable shrine" (omikoshi 御神輿). Neighborhood residents help carry it, calling out "Wasshoi!" as they bounce it down the street. The idea with omikoshi is that the gods, residing in the holy artifacts, like to be taken out of their temples and around the town every now and then, or they get angry and will cause misfortune. I have some video of this too that I'll upload later on. The participants are in "happi", the traditional coats with crests or designs worn for festivals.

I also spotted these two gentlemen, who were kind enough to let me get a picture of them in their summer kimono and even spoke to me in cheerful, simple English. Awesome guys! :D (Many adult Japanese don't like their faces in photos online, so that's why all of mine are cut off to only show the outfits.)

Our wanderings took us past a flea market happening in the large, narrow park that runs through downtown Sapporo, where kimono and obi were available at various stalls for 500 yen and up, though kimono seemed to be going for around 3,000-5,000 yen. Not finding any I liked (I'm very picky about condition and most of them had flaws of some kind) we went on our way to a second-hand shop my friend found online for me, called Tansu-ya.

Tansu-ya たんす屋, located on the 4th floor of the Lafiler (ラフィラ) department store next to Susukino station, is a national secondhand kimono chain. It featured very good to excellent condition kimono, obi, and accessories. Obi were available from 1,000 yen in a small bargain bin all the way up to 20-30,000 yen for high-class formal ones. Kimono ranged from around 3,000 yen to 40,000 yen.

The kimono were mostly yukata, komon, tsumugi, basically the various daily wear types for adults. I snagged a new ro (summer weight) synthetic juban (underwear kimono) for 1,000 yen.

Some kimono shops (usually places that sell new ones) tend to be very high-pressure and hard selling, but the Tansu-ya staff were a nice change of pace. Polite and friendly, they didn't try to push me into any purchases and were even honest with me and said they didn't have any kimono that would fit my 140cm "wingspan" (yuki - 裄) sleeve-length requirements, rather than try to talk me into shorter ones. (Ideally, kimono more formal than yukata should hit at or below the outside wrist bone when your hand is resting at your side if you're interested in "proper" wear rather than just for fun.)

In the same department store I ran into this lovely kimono-wearer, who was very happy and surprised to hear English-speakers are interested in kimono.

If you're interested in window-shopping, or have thousands of dollars to spend on new kimono (hey, you never know :D ), two shops are very close to the main Sapporo train station. One is in the Daimaru department store, attached to the huge Sapporo train station(I want to say the 7th floor?), and the other is a few doors down from the Gracery Hotel, just across the train station plaza from the cute, giant star clock mounted on the mall/station exterior. These were hit and run window-shopping expeditions so I don't remember more details about them. Here's a photo from the Daimaru store: the obi aren't folded in half like they would normally be, from my understanding, so they won't get fold lines in them before they're sold.

Also very close to the station is Kinokuniya, the famous book store. The kimono/kitsuke section is, as you walk in, part of the set of shelves off to the right on the first floor, next to tea ceremony books. They had almost every issue of Kimono-Hime for 1200 yen, plus a lot of books on kitsuke how-to, as well as pretty photo collections of obidome, kimono, etc. I picked up a 2008 nice kitsuke book by the publishers of kimono magazine "Nana-oh", and a very detailed 2007 book on sewing your first kimono and related pieces. Reviews to come down the road as I read and use what I find in each book.

I have heard there are several used kimono stores in Sapporo and hope to check them out down the road should I find myself in Sapporo again. The shop clerk at Tansu-ya recommended one called "Ko-Danuki" (小狸 - Little Tanuki). If you're in or have been to Sapporo, do you have any favorite stores? Let me know! :)