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3-minute kimono rental shop opens doors in Kyoto

KYOTO -- "Kitsuke," or having a kimono put on, is usually a time-consuming process, but visitors can get dressed up in the iconic Japanese garments in just three minutes at a rental shop that opened recently in this city's Higashiyama Ward.

Warabe Kyoto founder Tsutomu Kaminaga, right, and a French clerk are seen at the kimono rental shop in Kyoto's Higashiyama Ward. (Mainichi/Ai Kawahira)

The "Warabe Kyoto" kimono rental shop is located in the Yumiyacho neighborhood, near the traditional Kyoto entertainment district of Gion and Kiyomizu-dera Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The shop's unique kimonos are made of polyester and can be worn like Western clothes. Kimonos are traditionally single-piece garments, but the women's kimonos at the shop have a top and a bottom. The fronts of the tops are sewed together, and people put them on like a pull-over. The bottoms are like wraparound skirts so that people can adjust the position of the waist to suit their height.

A unique kimono which can be put on in just three minutes is seen at the Warabe Kyoto rental shop in Kyoto's Higashiyama Ward. (Mainichi/Ai Kawahira)

Men can put on the new design like a "samue," simple work clothes worn by Japanese Zen Buddhist monks, by putting it on like a jacket and tying up the front. For both men and women, it takes just three minutes or even less to put on the outfit and fasten the "obi" belt.

The shop was founded by Tsutomu Kaminaga, 55, the head of a start-up company in Kyoto and a former Nestle Japan Co. executive director who led the creation of the wildly popular "matcha" green tea Kit Kat flavor. He designed the cheap, machine-washable garments to try to challenge kimonos' image as expensive, difficult to wear and hard to keep clean.

The shop charges 3,000 yen to rent one of the garments for 24 hours, excluding tax. For inquiries, call the shop at 075-746-3980.

(Japanese original by Ai Kawahira, Kyoto Bureau)

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