Last week, I was able to try on a kimono in Koriyama City.
Many stores in Japan allow visitors to rent kimonos, and maybe even throw in a photoshoot for a set price. The shop that I went to was a bit different.
About Waraku Café
Renting a kimono at Waraku Café is free (as long as you buy a delicious lunch or cake – vegan options available!).
Waraku Café allows you to rent a kimono for the day and return it the next day. This means you can wear it at sightseeing spots and take photographs with your friends.
Waraku Café (和楽cafe) is a cute, eclectic place to eat your lunch! It includes a gift shop, a traditional, very “Japanese” room, a terrace, and an “Oxygen room”.
The café is filled with wonderful, vintage pieces of furniture, many of which have been recycled in unique ways, such as tables are made of old doors and wooden basins used for pounding mochi (rice cakes).
Another thing that stands about Waraku Café is the stunning kimonos that are exhibited on the walls.
Trying on Kimono
Waraku Café has over 600 kimonos on the second floor.
Visitors are free to choose one to try on before or after their meal, and even get help putting it on. If you pay a little extra you can get your hair done as well!
Waraku Café has been collecting kimonos for a long time. Soeta san hopes his café will give visitors from abroad the chance to learn about Japan’s kimono culture.
Although kimono are worn at formal events such as weddings, coming of age ceremonies, and new year celebrations, there are styles of kimono designed to allow the wearer to move freely.
The kimono that I tried on during my visit to the café was a formal, traditional style. Its retro Showa era colours caught my eye. This style of kimono is apparently worn during the new year celebrations.
There were so many steps to putting it on that I don’t think I could ever remember them, let alone be able to dress myself in one!
It was really fun to watch the kimono slowly come together as layer upon layer was draped over my shoulders or wrapped around my waist.
I had never worn a kimono before, so I was surprised by how difficult it was to sit down, to walk up and down stairs and to bend my knees.
When the whole look was put together, I felt like I was ready to attend a grand event. Wearing a kimono made me think about traditional dress in the UK, such as Scottish kilts.
I’m not sure my blonde hair fits with most people’s images of “kimono”, but it was a great experience to wear a real kimono and take pictures.
Disclaimer: * There may be other cafés or stores where you can rent kimonos for free in Fukushima Prefecture, so if you know of any please let me know, and I will continue to look them up! I happened to go to Waraku Café this time, but there are plenty of other lovely restaurants and cafés in and around the city! *
Non-Japanese speakers very welcome! (Waraku Café has one English-speaking staff member, so contact them in advance to check her availability.)
By public transport: After getting the Shinkansen to Koriyama Station, take a bus heading for Yurigaoka Danchi (百合丘団地行)from Koriyamaekimae（郡山駅前）and get off at Gyouninda (行人田) bus stop. The bus will take around 11 minutes. From the bus stop, the café is a 4 minute walk (400m).
By car: After getting the Shinkansen to Koriyama Station, rent a car from close to the station. From the station, the café is a 15 minute drive.