How to wear a Kimono at the Narita Airport

I don’t know if anyone else is this way, but flying home scares me. However, it’s not the physical flying, or even going through security at the airport that scares me. No, it’s the thought that I might be late and miss my flight entirely that terrifies me.

And this fear is well-founded. I’ve heard my name (mispronounced) on the intercom during the last call as I sprint through the airport, missed the deadline to check baggage and had to leave my suitcase in the car – stuffing a couple days’ worth of clothes in my carry-on bag, and missed my flight altogether.

Basically, I just travel a lot.

And one thing I learned from all this travel is the simple fact that it is MUCH easier to sit at the airport for a couple hours before my flight than to miss it by ten minutes.

So when I flew back to Texas for Thanksgiving, I got to the airport three and a half hours before my flight.

Don’t laugh.

I might have a problem.

But while I was waiting, I saw this stage:

A group of people were trying on Kimono’s on stage, with a couple other’s taking their picture. I loved taking pictures (and getting my picture taken), so it looked like great fun.

I was curious.

And I saw the sign “Free of Charge.”
But was it really free? I was unsure. And it seemed awkward if I got all the way up there and had to pay.

Trying on a kimono is supposed to be expensive… So I decided to just watch. It was fun.

But, while I was watching, a woman in a Kimono and a sign came up to me.

“What time is your flight?”

“Ummm… Not for a while?”

“Would you like to try on a Kimono?”

“Ummm…”

“It’s free.”

“Free…? Really?”

“Free!”

“Ok! Sure!”

She had me at free. I really am stingy.

The lady was from Hong Kong. She had been working in Japan for 3 years and at the Narita Airport for the last 8 months. A company, Skyruim, put on events during the day to entertain passengers leaving Japan.

Trying on the Kimono was easy:

1. Peel off your clothes (including socks) and leave them in the corner with a name-tag over your belongings. And by peel off, I mean just lose the bulky sweaters and scarves. And roll up your pants a bit, so they won’t show up underneath the kimono. The workers also recommend that you hide your wallet and valuable items, since no one is watching your stuff.

Then again, it’s Japan. All things considered, it’s a pretty safe country.

Don’t forget to take out your camera and hold it, though. They will take your pictures once you’re dressed, and it’s awkward to go roaming through your stuff in a tight-fitting kimono looking for your camera.

2. Put on the new, white traditional Japanese socks they give you. You get to keep the socks afterwards. They are the kind of sock with two toes: one for your big toe and one for your four other small toes.

Basically, they make it really easy to wear flip-flops (or traditional Japanese shoes, in this case)

3. Pick your Kimono. They had about 8 stacks of women’s kimonos, 4 stacks of men’s wear, and an assortment of children’s outfits.

I chose a bright yellow one. It probably wasn’t correct for my skin tone, but I adore the colors mustard yellow and bright neon blue. They didn’t have neon blue, so I chose mustard yellow. Once you pick a pile, three women will lead you away.

 4. Stay still as they dress you in the Kimono. Just a warning: kimonos fit tight. Really tight. It It’s surprising, because they don’t look that form fitting.

My ladies said I was much skinnier than I looked (in Japanese). I felt too awkward to tell them I understood them, so I just took it as a pleasant compliment.

 5. Wait in line to get your picture taken. I only had to wait a couple minutes. While I was bored, I took pictures in the mirror.

You can really tell that it’s an airport. Right behind the mirror is the security checkpoint.

6. Pick your shoes and prop fan. They gave me the largest female shoes (since my size 8.5 – 9 is LLL in Japanese sizes). I was allowed to pick a fan, so I picked a bright, neon blue one (no surprise). When it was my turn to take a picture, the lady made a “tsk tsk” noise and picked out a different one. She said my blue fan didn’t match.

I was sad.

But not that sad. Because, I mean, I was in a cute kimono for some free pictures instead of waiting by my gate.

7. Pose awkwardly with an umbrella and fan while they take your picture. They took about 7 shots with my camera, then asked for permission to shoot a picture with their company camera.

I agreed.

8. Feel guilty and give the next group of people in line their turn. The group after me was a mother, father, and two children (boy and girl) from Taiwan. The children looked adorable. Children always look adorable.

 9. Let them unwrap you. The lady who unwrapped me from the yellow kimono bragged, “I can get you out of this in less than 60 seconds.”

And she did.

I was impressed, especially since it took close to 10 minutes to get INTO the kimono in the first place.

You could kind of see people getting changed/unchanged in the “dressing area.”

10. Fill out a comment card. As I was putting my sweater back on, the lady from Hong Kong handed me a comment sheet to rate my experience. I loved it, so I wrote great things.

The lady from Hong Kong said that they change up the events every once and a while based on popular demand.

I can’t imagine something more popular than trying on a traditional, Japanese Kimono; now I also can’t wait until the next time I fly out of Narita Airport.

Add me on Google Plus: +Grace Buchele

About Grace Buchele Mineta

I got into the writing business by accident. Now I live in the countryside near Tokyo with my husband, Ryosuke, where I draw comics, blog, and make videos about our daily life. Contact: Website | More Posts

11 Comments on How to wear a Kimono at the Narita Airport

  1. Which terminal did they have the kimonos? I’m going to Japan in 2 weeks….that’s def one of the things I want to do when I get there.

  2. Forgot to say awwwwwwwwww :DDD in response to Ryosuke’s comment. :D

  3. Love this post. It’s so cute! Although I suppose that can sound condescending but don’t take it as such. :D Too bad about the fan! I would have put up with more tsking. I’ve seen so many crazy clashing colors on kimono (wow – I’m on an alliteration roll… ) but I see why the other fan was chosen. :) And yes, kimono are so tight. I couldn’t breathe properly for the first hour or so in my wedding kimono. Iiiiiitaiiiii!

    • I know! They’re so tight! I’m impressed you were able to get married on one of them without passing out! Kudos to you~
      (I say things are “cute” all the time. Once or twice people thought I was being condescending, and I was like “noooo, it’s a good thing!”)

  4. How do you keep your hair non frizzy in the humidity there? I know Japan becomes a steam bath in June!

    Please email me at allabouthaircare@gmail.com lol, sucks that you do not have a public email where I can email you! ):

    • I recommend either:
      A. Just don’t wash your hair that often. Hair is the most frizzy right after you wash it, so if you can stand only washing your hair every 2nd or 3rd day, it will do WONDERS for your hair.
      B. Use some of the anti-frizz cremes they have here. There’s a bunch of cheap ones for both men and women.

  5. Excellent blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers? I’m planning to start my own blog soon but I’m a little lost on everything. Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m completely overwhelmed .. Any suggestions? Thanks a lot!

    • I assume that as long as it’s only a hobby (or at least if you’re just starting out) free is the best. If you have every cash, use it on whatever you want, though.

  6. You are a shining star!!
    my sunshine :)

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  1. My first time wearing a Kimono in Japan (as a Foreigner) | Texan in Tokyo
  2. Narita Airport attempts to woo international travellers with ‘Omotenashi’ welcome program | RocketNews24

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