• Shona McCarthy

Opening The Vintage Kimono: Akari, Ikoma

I've mentioned the delightful town of Ikoma, Nara before. But what I didn't learn until my last trip is that it is home to what might be one of the best places to buy vintage kimono in the entire Kansai region, if not all of Japan. Why do I think it's so great? Let me tell you all about it!

(Me with the owner of Akari Kimono, 2019. Photo taken by Ioanna Sillavan.)

I first decided to visit Akari Kimono because I had seen the company Instagram account. I could see from pictures that it would be possible to buy whole rolls of true kimono fabric for as little as 300 JPY a roll if I came at the right time.

I found that in a bizarre twist, I had read one of the posts wrong, and I was there on a day when the store was closed. Nonetheless, the store owner, Chiyoko Nakamura San, was nice enough to open her store for me, and she toured me around it. She had just about everything the die-hard kimono collector could want, sometimes in remarkably affordable prices.

I went through her main store, but then with the help of a friend, I asked her whether or not she had very old kimono, so old that they were stained or damaged and therefore very cheap. So she lead me to the warehouse part of her business. What amazed me about this area was the way it was full of so many kimono things I had wanted and I could buy them in bales and send them home at cut-rate prices. So I did!

(The rare and unusual kimono related items I saw at Akari Kimono, 2019. Photos taken by me.)

Some of the kimono she had in the store were rare oshima tsumugi. But another rare item she had were raw, unadorned rolls of kimono fabric, something I never thought I'd get to see in person. She also had a wonderful vintage book collection, full of old kimono information in Japanese. She explained that she needed the older books since they had information on kimono types in them that had been largely lost to human memory. So, I truly felt I was in a treasure cave.

While I was still in the store, I suddenly had unbearable period pains. She was so good and kind as to give me some powerful painkillers to help me, and she even offered to give me freebies since I had been so passionate about her collection. Also, while I was there I was able to offer her information about Australian tastes in kimono. It turned out that she was a Lady Pastor who opened the business so that she could fund assistance for disabled children, a cause that receives relatively little notice in Japan. So, it is good for you (yes, you) to go and make some purchases! It funds a very good cause!

(Some pictures of a kimono I received in Akari Kimono. They really don't make them like they used to. So the vintage kimono at Akari Kimono are well worth the effort it takes to find them. Taken by Raphael McCarthy, 2019.)

See Akari Kimono at 北田原町2457-2, Ikoma, Nara!

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