Aizu-Wakamatsu’s New Kimono Rental Shop

Tsuruga Kimono Rental Shop (English-language website here) opened up in April in central Aizu-Wakamatsu City. Its main store is located right next to Tsurugajo Castle. We headed over a couple of weeks ago to find out more about the shop and the experience it offers!

Tsurugajo Kaikan

The main store is inside Tsurugajo Kaikan (map), a shopping complex that stands just a few minute’s walk away from Tsurugajo Castle. This is a great place to have an ice cream, buy some souvenirs, or even paint your own lucky red Akabeko cow.

Seasonal traditional dress

At Tsuruga you can rent kimono and yukata (casual summer kimono). Since we visited in June, we rented yukata for the day, complete with folding fans to help us keep cool, and parasols to block the sun!

Picking your yukata

There were lots of colours and designs for us to choose from. There was also space for us to lay down our favourite yukata and compare them side to side, as well as comparing different combinations of obi sashes to wear with the yukata.

There was also quite a big variety of geta (wooden sandals) and small bags to carry your valuables in when you walk around, so you can create an original look!

There are a number of sizes of yukata and kimono, but please be aware that there is only one size of geta sandal!

The geta can be quite uncomfortable to wear if you’re not used to them (or if they don’t fit correctly), so please remember to take your own shoes with you when you go to take photos, so you can swap whenever.

Getting dressed up

It takes about 15 minutes to get dressed. The staff at Tsuruga do a great job of making sure that the robes fit you correctly.

On the day, I opted to have my hair styled. I think that anyone can book this as an option, but hair styling is done via a second store (run by the same organization) ((See more below)). You definitely need to book this in advance.

You have to visit the second store, and then travel to the castle, so it is definitely easier to do your own hair, and just borrow a yukata/kimono straight from the rental store in Tsurugajo Kaikan.

Instagrammable Spots

We took lots of photos in some of Tsurugajo Castle and Tsurugajo Kaikan’s most picturesque locations. Hopefully you can find some inspiration below for holding your own photo shoot with friends or family!

1) Tsurugajo Castle grounds

Tsurugajo Castle makes a really awesome backdrop for a photo. I really love the colour of our parasols against the bright greens of the trees in the park in front of the castle.

Tsurugajo Castle is significant as being the central focus of the final large-scale battle during the Boshin War of 1868, which led to the Meiji Restoration, and the end of the rule of samurai.

The inside of the castle has been converted into a fascinating museum with lots of English-language information about the history of this amazing city. Read more about it here.

The grand castle walls, various bridges, and shrines also offer great spots for taking photos and feeling like you’ve been transported back a few hundred years.

When you would like a break from posing, I highly recommend you have an ice cream or kakigori (shaved-ice dessert) while you’re resting! You can buy them at the castle, and they are perfect on a warm spring or summer day.

2) Rinkaku Tea House

No matter the time of year, Rinkaku Tea House is one spot in Aizu-Wakamatsu where you’re pretty much guaranteed to be able to take great photos.

This tea house stands in the spot where the original ‘Rinkaku’ once stood. Rinkaku was a tea house built in the 1590s for the son of the renowned Japanese tea master Sen no Rikyu.

The original house was moved when Tsurugajo Castle was destroyed following the Boshin War, in 1874, but was returned in 1990, following the reconstruction of the castle.

Take a short stroll around the beautiful garden, try Japanese matcha tea (which comes with a hand-made seasonal Japanese wagashi confectionery) and soak up the traditional scenery.

3) Castle viewpoint

I have been to Tsurugajo Castle countless times (well…probably around 30) but during our visit last week I learned for the first time about a castle viewpoint! This is the spot where photographers snap amazing cherry blossom photos in April!

You can get to this viewpoint (which is called Chatsubo-Yagura Site) by following a path to the top of the surrounding castle walls! See it’s location here.

4) Near Tsurugajo Kaikan

There are a number of really interesting, photogenic buildings near Tsurugajo Kaikan including the Aizu Silk Road Café (which is the brick building featured in the photos below).

Like I mentioned above, even if you’re not interested in photo spots, Tsurugajo Kaikan is a great place to buy souvenirs, have a coffee, ice cream, meal, drink of sake, you name it.

Definitely make sure you visit if you haven’t been before.

Of course, there are many more picturesque places in Aizu-Wakamatsu City to visit while wearing yukata or kimono. If you opt to borrow the garments for the night, you can even wear them in a local izakaya (Japanese pub)!

The opening of Tsuruga Kimono Rental Shop gives visitors to Aizu-Wakamatsu City a really great opportunity to try on Japanese kimono and yukata for a very reasonable price. I definitely recommend this experience to anyone.


Rental Experience Details

Booking:

Price:

  • Depending on whether you’re renting a yukata or a kimono, the price ranges from 5000 yen (yukata) to 8000 yen (Aizu Momen kimono) for same-day returns.
  • If you want to bring back the yukata / kimono the following day, there’s an extra charge.
  • See the Tsuruga website for details.

Time:

  • Reception time is between 9:30 to 14:00.
  • For same-day returns, you must hand the kimono / yukata back by 16:00.
  • It takes around 15 minutes for women to get dressed up, and around 10 minutes for men.

Location:

  • This kimono / yukata rental plan is available in Aizu-Wakamatsu City.
  • You can reach Tsurugajo Castle, Aizu-Wakamatsu City, in about 3 to 3.5 hours from Tokyo, or 2.5 hours from Sendai.
  • See here for information on reaching Aizu-Wakamatsu City.

Tsuruga Rental Kimono – Tsurugajo Kaikan

If you don’t mind not having your hair done up, you can put your yukata or kimono on directly at Tsurugajo Kaikan. The shop is on the 2nd floor. There is a staircase to the left of the big stand banner.

As you can see from the map below, Tsurugajo Kaikan is situated very close to the castle.

Sozai Hiroba (same organization)

If you want to have your hair done up, you need to go to Sozai Hiroba’s main shop, which is a short bus ride away from Tsurugajo Kaikan. Regular loop buses connect key sightseeing spots in Aizu-Wakamatsu City (see here from more).

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