Wear a kimono for 1000 yen. Yukiko Shimizu has qualifications to dress you and will fit you in her tiny shop in east Ginza. She has more than a hundred elegant garments. You ask why she does it so cheaply when rental stores around Asakusa will charge many times this.
She says, Mine are antique and not the gaily coloured ones the tourists go for. And you can’t take them around town, they are just for you to step outside and take a photo.
That may be enough. It’s uncanny how clothes transmit culture. You might say kimono restrict you on one hand, yet on the other, set you free. A bit like the society they came from.
There’s also the class and back-story to these garments. Take this one on the wall. Island culture – a Shiro-Oshima kimono, says Shimizu. Probably 1960s. The dark thread is dyed first then the pattern is woven. The white thread is rinsed in sea water which makes it whiter. The pattern is asanoha, hemp leaves, a motif to pray for kids’ robust health.
She has been in business 30 years. She initially sold antiques with her husband in Nagano. After he passed away she moved into this space about 13 years ago. Her focus became kimono. She sells used ones, haori top-coats, and offcuts from sashes that can make great scarves. She still carries some antiques. You might find a Korean celadon dish, a Qing vase, a Messien Japonaise tea service, or even cups by a Living National Treasure.
Ginza Sankido is at 2-13-20-102 Ginza tel 03-3541-0845 Closed Sun.