For those planning a trip to Kyoto, Japan in winter, the thought of wandering through the city’s historic streets while wearing a beautiful kimono is undeniably appealing. In this blog post, we’ll explore the enchanting experience of renting a kimono in Kyoto during the winter months, offering insights on what to expect and how to make the most of your visit while staying warm and stylish.
Winter in Kyoto
Kyoto experiences a distinct four-season climate, which means that winter in this historic city is quite different from the other seasons. The winter months in Kyoto span from December to February, and during this time, you can expect cold temperatures, occasional snowfall, and a unique atmosphere that’s different from the spring and fall crowds.
The average temperatures in Kyoto during the winter months tend to hover between 3°C to 10°C (37°F to 50°F). However, it’s essential to keep in mind that these are just averages, and temperatures can drop significantly on particularly cold days and nights. So, be prepared for the chill by packing warm clothing, including layers, a good winter coat, and comfortable walking shoes.
Despite the cold, wearing a kimono in winter adds a touch of elegance and charm to your Kyoto adventure. The layers of fabric provide warmth, and the patterns and colors of the kimono create a picturesque contrast against the winter backdrop.
Tips for a Memorable Winter Kimono Experience
1. Wear Warm Undergarments
To protect yourself from the cold, wearing warm undergarments is essential. Choose materials that are warm and breathable, and wear them beneath your kimono. Warm innerwear plays a crucial role in your winter kimono style. Nowadays, there is a wide variety of underwear designed for kimonos with cold protection features. These offer excellent insulation while remaining thin enough for layering, helping you stay warm. It’s advisable to wear them under a Nagajuban (a type of kimono undergarment).
Pro Tip: Long-sleeved innerwear is a must! The ones with a wide open back are even better. A high-neck design can detract from the elegance of your kimono.
2. Rent a Haori (Kimono Jacket)
A warm haori is indispensable for your winter kimono style. Haori not only adds a fashionable touch but also serves as reliable allies in keeping you warm. Wool and silk are recommended materials for warmth. Additionally, capes and ponchos, commonly used for cold weather in Western fashion, can also be paired with kimonos. If they have no sleeves, they can be layered over kimonos.
3. Use Hand Warmers (Kairo)
Hand warmers, known as “Kairo,” are highly useful during the winter. However, it’s not advisable to use adhesive hand warmers if you are not familiar with wearing kimonos, as they can be challenging to remove. Please be cautious, as there is a risk of low-temperature burns. It’s better to use hand-held Kairo.
4. Utilize a Lined Kimono (Awase)
Lined kimonos, called “Awase,” have the advantage of blocking out cold air due to their lining. In the winter season, consider choosing Awase kimono for better cold protection. Additionally, you can rent items like stoles and larger scarves at shops, which can be worn with your kimono.
Pro Tip: Larger-sized stoles work better with kimonos. Wrapping them loosely adds a touch of fashion.
5. Wear Gloves and Socks
The cold is often felt most in your extremities, such as your hands and feet. Wearing gloves and warm socks will enhance your overall warmth. Since kimono sleeves are open and can let in cold air, it’s recommended to wear long gloves that cover from your fingertips to your elbows for added protection. Wool materials or elegant leather gloves complement kimonos well.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to keep your feet warm. Boots are suitable, and you can even wear tights with them. If you prefer traditional tabi socks, go for leggings. As they may occasionally be visible at the hem, opt for subtle or plain colors. Boots can surprisingly match various outfits and are suitable for those who want both warmth and style. For comfort and to avoid snags on metal pieces or decorations while walking, choose short boots without excessive hardware, preferably with a simple design.
6. Stay Warm with Delicious Food
Once you’ve prepared for the cold, warm yourself from the inside. A highly recommended winter dish in Kyoto is “yudofu” (tofu hot pot). In the Higashiyama area, where there are many temples and shrines, you can find numerous restaurants that serve delicious Yudofu. One such place is “Okutan Kiyomizu Branch,” where you can savor handcrafted tofu.
Website: Okutan Kiyomizu Branch
Address: 340 Shimizu 3-chome, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto
Phone: 075-525-2051 Fax: 075-525-2541
Prepare for a winter Kimono adventure in Kyoto
Preparing for a winter kimono adventure in Kyoto is a delightful journey in itself. As you embrace the cultural richness of this enchanting city, you can also revel in the elegance and warmth of your kimono attire. Remember, it’s not just about staying cozy; it’s about creating memories in a picturesque setting.