Old – Not Necessarily Antique – Kimono Shopping in Tokyo

THE ANTIQUES DIVA™ TOURS – CLOSED FOR ANNUAL VACATION DURING AUGUST – REOPENS SEPTEMBER While my tour guides are taking a much needed holiday and I’m away for the month of August sipping champagne at sunset on a Mediterranean Cruise (after taking a driving tour of Italy), I haven’t forgotten you, my loyal readers, in my absence. August 2008 you’ll enjoy a multitude of guest blogs, pre-posted light blogs and miscellaneous reader questions. Don’t worry, I’ll be back with more great addresses and shopping tips this fall! All email inquiries or posted comments will be responded to come September!


Dear Antiques Diva,

top:2px;padding-right:5px;font-family:times;”>A recent blog entry from one of your readers who was on vacation in Singapore made me think about how much I love all my Asian treasures. After living in Tokyo for a year and a half and traveling to Japan, China and Korea numerous times, my house is filled with Far East memories. One of my favorite pieces, and definitely the most admired, was purchased on a trip to Tokyo last August. It’s a colorful silk kimono I display on the wall in my living room.

I realize that most of your readers prefer antique clothing, but I always found the Asian pieces to be out of my price range since the ones I preferred started at several thousands of dollars. But last year a Japanese friend of mine alerted me to a surprising fact. If the kimono is just “old”, then it is not nearly as valuable as an antique one (or even a brand new one, strangely enough). “Old” seems to be in a vague category that is more likely considered used clothing. But given that Japan is an established civilization, “old” could be anywhere from 10 years to 100 years old. to+be+to+become+an+antique%3F/” target=”_blank”>Some of us without the proper vernacular would probably call a 100-year old kimono “antique”, but I guess that’s not correct.

Under the guidance of my friend, I found that the selection and price range for “old” versus “antique” was very pleasing. I found racks of choices in several shops around the to/aoyama.html” target=”_blank”>Omotesando area, and would have seen even more if I wasn’t too lazy to walk further. My favorites included Oriental Bazaar (5-9-13 Jingumae), Gallery Kawano (4-4-9 Jingumae) and tokyo/attraction-detail.html?vid=1154654670127″ target=”_blank”>Chicago (6-31-21 Jingumae).

Oriental Bazaar is a four-story souvenir shoppers dream. If you can get past the dishes, furniture and chopsticks, then head downstairs into the kimono area. They sell both new and “old” pieces, with each priced individually from $150 – $400. I found the employees to get a bit tense when you touched anything without assistance, but otherwise they were helpful.

Gallery Kawano is staffed by two lovely Japanese ladies who will rush to help you pull numerous kimonos off the shelves and racks. The pieces are good quality and prices hover around the $300-$400 mark. They also sell lovely obi (the sash worn around the kimono) if you’re looking for something smaller or less expensive. After a bit of persuasion, they even offered to hold one for me until my husband could see it the next day.

Chicago is a bizarre shop featuring 1950s American clothing. If you walk down the long staircase (thinking to yourself that this cannot be the place!) and wander through the huge basement into the very back left corner, you will find hundreds of old kimono, yukata (worn while sleeping) and obi. The selection changes frequently, but the day I went there were even several wedding kimono. Prices ranged from $20 to $500, depending upon quality, color and amount of wear and tear.

My husband made the final decision after I had narrowed it down for him, so in the end we bought our kimono at Chicago. This piece is about 80 years old and cost $300. Since I had budgeted $500, that left me with enough to also throw in a couple of obi with gold threads, which I use as decorative table runners.

Happy Shopping, Antiques Diva™ Readers!

Lady Lotus