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  • Shona McCarthy

Dream Location: Jidaya Arashiyama


During my last trip to Arashiyama, a great source of excitement for me was how I could wander the streets and see many kimono stores and kimono rental studios. I had been following a few of them on social media, or I had been reading about them for years, researching my decision to get a "Maiko Henshin" or "Geisha Dress-up". I describe my experience in another post.

But one of the studios I really wanted to visit but didn't have the budget for was Jidaiya Arashiyama. While most kimono rental studios are very much alike in terms of content, Jidaiya Arashiyama is fairly unique in its approach. Unique in that you don't just get to wear kimono there. They dress you in true historical costumes! For those of you who believe all kimono is anachronistic, just take a look at their actual website!

(Taken from jidaiya-kyoto.com and translated. October, 2019.)

(Taken from jidaiya-kyoto.com and translated. October, 2019.)

While it is possible to go for the more common geisha or maiko options, the ones that really interest me are the more historical outfits that you can't get in most places. Part of the reason I couldn't go was I simply couldn't make up my mind which outfit I wanted to wear, and I knew I couldn't afford to go for all of the ones I liked. So, here is a list of the outfits I would be photographed in if I could.

Nara Period Costume, worn around AD 710 to 794. (Taken from jidaiya-kyoto.com and translated. October, 2019.)


Izumo no Okuni, Inventor of Kabuki (Taken from jidaiya-kyoto.com and translated. October, 2019.)

Taiyo Yoshino, a Courtesan of notorious intelligence and beauty from the Azuchi–Momoyama period. (Taken from jidaiya-kyoto.com and translated. October, 2019.)

Ju-Ni-Hitoe, traditional Heian Period Dress. In this outfit, I would imagine to myself that I am Sei Shonagon, writer of the famous Makura no Soshi! (Taken from jidaiya-kyoto.com and translated. October, 2019.)

There are also many unusual boys and men's options in the store. If I ever find another boyfriend and there is enough money, I may bring him there to wear such things!

(Taken from jidaiya-kyoto.com and translated. October, 2019.)

The studio itself seems to be very clean. Even though I only saw the outside of the store from the outside, it seemed to be newly renovated and well maintained.

(Taken from jidaiya-kyoto.com and translated. October, 2019.)

The company itself maintains a remarkable web presence, with a blog, Instagram and Facebook. This means that you have many opportunities to learn more about the meanings of the outfits and how they come together. It can help you better appreciate the outfit you chose, to make a more carefully reasoned decision and to extend the experience of your visit for months after you left, since you can keep looking at their posts.

But one of the things I find most striking about this company is that they will develop seasonal specials; limited time outfits that can only be rented for a month or so, and then they disappear from the company's options entirely. They are often lavish and remarkable. I could easily imagine that if I were a Kyoto resident, I would save up my money to go in for these on a regular basis.

When I first wrote this post, the current "Campaign" as they put it, was this:

(Taken from jidaiya-kyoto.com and translated. October, 2019.)

It appears to be an Edo Period Oiran, or high-class prostitute outfit. While this isn't that unusual as a kimono rental option, the level of detail, quality and historicity is unmatched in my experience. This was only available till the 31st of October 2019. If you would like to see the current campaign, you can visit the web page HERE.


So, Jidaiya Arashiyama is one of those place I would return to when I am a woman of means.

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