Happy Girls Day! In Japanese culture, March 3 celebrates all the lovely ladies in your life with mochi eating, doll playing and dressing up in colorful kimono. Hawaii hosts a couple of festivals in honor of Girls Day, and one of the crowd-favorite activities is playing dress up with the racks full of kimono. Little girls and their mothers take turns trying on the traditional Japanese garment still worn in modern day.
Kimono translates to “a thing to wear” and are mostly worn by women on special occasions; however, men sometimes wear them too. Visitors that come to Hawaii wonder where to get a kimono of their own, especially for special occasions like Girls Day. They can be found at specialty Japanese shops, like Shirokiya in Ala Moana, or if you are okay with a second-hand find, then check out one of the many thrift stores around town. It would be a great way to find those vintage pieces at really affordable prices. I have also seen kimonos for sale at swap meets; probably not an authentic one but definitely one that serves its purpose.
You may be surprised as to what you find, too. Hawaii has a huge Japanese population and attracts millions of Japanese tourists every year. Therefore, the demand for an island-style kimono comes as a no brainer. People like to wear them around their house and hotel rooms. You might think of the kimono as a robe, except fancier and more silky fresh. That is probably why the kimono is so perfect for Hawaii’s often hot and muggy weather.
They are the perfect souvenirs to bring back home with you because kimonos pack very easily. Fold them up in your carry-on or in your luggage send-through. The authentic silk ones should probably be carried on with a protective garment bag. I am assuming that would be considered your one personal item. It would probably have to be carried on with extra caution so that it does not get wrinkled of damaged. Kimono usually require special cleaning procedures. My aunty bought a bunch of kimono while on vacation here and brought them back home in that way. She said it was not as cumbersome as she had expected.
Now that you know where to get a kimono in Hawaii, the question is, how do you choose the right one? I would say, think of it as you would when shopping for an aloha shirt or aloha print dress. The vintage finds always have a uniqueness to them that make them stand out from the rest on the rack; they catch your eye, much like a kimono would. No matter if they are new or used kimono and no matter if it is for a special occasion like Girls Day or not: each kimono has a different story to share with whomever chooses to sport them.
Posted by: Bruce Fisher