Hundred Year Old Cool


Antique kimono have become popular and it is now difficult to find nice ones at a good price. At Osaka’s Mei you’ll always find an excellent selection.

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Last week, I introduced Follow, a shop selling gorgeous handcrafted leather bags, housed in a converted old wooden townhouse in the center of Osaka. Mei is located in the same building, although the entrance is outside and not through the courtyard.

Mei, named after owner Mei Iwasaki, offers antique kimono and Japanese accessories.

“I always try to find everyday kimono from the Taisho Period (1912-1926),” Iwasaki-san told me when I visited. “But they are becoming rarer and more expensive all the time.” I could still find a lot of Taisho kimono at Mei, though.

Before WWII, kimono were worn every day. But these days, kimono are basically only worn on New Year’s day, graduation and some celebrations. They are expensive and seen as a luxury. These are the kimono that I am used to wearing. They are very different from kimono of the Taisho Period.

So these Taisho kimono, although Japanese traditional wear, feel very new to me. I find them unbelievably attractive. The colors and designs are truly distinctive.

Mei Antique Kimono, Osaka
Antique kimono at Mei.

The colors of the kimono at Mei are especially beautiful. Iwasaki-san explained that she always searches for typical Japanese colors like red, purple and black. Recently, kimono with quiet colors sell very well she told me, particularly black ones.

Before, loud colors sold better. Maybe, this is because of the recession?

What I liked about Mei is that the shop also sells metal accessories for kimono. And the shop is tiny—just a few customers fit in at one time—so Iwasaki-san can spend a lot of attention on you.

This is really helpful if you don’t know how to wear kimono, or how to choose one. Iwasaki-san will help you. She doesn’t speak English, she told me, but she can explain with gestures.

Mei Antique Kimono, Osaka
A customer tries on a kimono.

On the 21st of every month, you can find Iwasaki-san at the Toji Temple market in Kyoto as well. On the 25th, she sells at the temple market at Kitano Tenmangu. Also in Kyoto. Kjeld is planning to introduce these temple markets on JAPANESE STREETS soon, so keep your eyes open.

Mei also offers a small surprise. Iwasaki-san’s husband Junichi is a fortune teller and body healer and offers these services at Mei. The name of his business is Jun.

I actually used his services. I have no idea how he did it, but when he told me about my past he was right on the mark. Also, his healing powers took away the pain from my shoulder and swollen legs. It was just amazing.

Visiting this interesting little shop really made my day. I hope you have a chance to experience the special services offered by Mr. and Mrs. Iwasaki, too!

Mei Antique Kimono, Osaka

Name: Mei (芽依)
Address: 6-17-43 Tanimachi, Chuo-ku, Osaka 542-0012 (大阪市中央区谷町6丁目17-43
Closed: Wednesdays
Hours: AM 11:00- PM 8:00
Phone: 06-6764-7800

Access: Take exit number 3 of the Matsuyamachi Subway Station on the Nagahori Tsurumi-Ryokuchi Line (just two stations away from Shinsaibashi!). Walk straight for three minutes.

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Comment (日本語もOK)

I’ve always wanted a kimono, byt they’re really expensive here. They’re so exquisite and it seems as if each kimono tells its own story, lol.

Dec 24, 2009 (5180 days ago)

Wowchicken, in January or February I will be introducing some places in Japan where you can purchase kimono for as cheap as 500 or 1000 yen. That is USD 5.55 to 11.00!

Nice ones usually start at around 3,000 yen at these places.

Kjeld Duits
Dec 25, 2009 (5179 days ago)

nice shop, I’ll check it out when I am in Osaka in March :) around what prices do they sell the kimono’s?

Jan 1, 2010 (5172 days ago)

i always love the prints on the kimonos!

BTW Happy new year to you all!! =D

Jan 4, 2010 (5169 days ago)

Hi, all. Thanks for your comments. and Haaaaapppyy New Year!! hope you all are having great holidays The price of Kimono is so various!! the cheapest one is around 2000yen, but there are some expensive ones too.

Nao Okamura
Jan 5, 2010 (5168 days ago)

OOH! thanks for this useful information. I’ve always wanted to wear/own a kimono (although i may have no use of it.. haha). 2000yen is totally affordable! Will definitely go to this shop when I visit Japan this April.. Thanks! ^^

Feb 3, 2010 (5139 days ago)

Are there similar shops on okinawa or ishigaki?

Feb 23, 2010 (5119 days ago)

Good question, Sandy. We have no contributors (yet) in Okinawa, and I haven’t been there for ages. So I don’t know. But I assume there must be used kimono shops there as well. Would love to hear from other readers!

Kjeld Duits
Feb 24, 2010 (5118 days ago)

Sandy, on internet I found an antique shop in Tomigusuku-shi, where they sell some old kimono. People at this shop may be able to suggest other shops where they specialize in kimono.

Name: Naigai
Address: 798-4 Onaga, Tomigusuku-shi, Okinawa (沖縄県豊見城市字翁長798-4)
Phone: 098-851-2154
Google Map

On one of the photos on their site the outside of the shop looks more like a garage than an antique dealer, but the photos of their interior are really nice.

They are really cheap too. This page shows items selling from as low as JPY 500! (Be sure to click on the next link at the bottom.)

Kjeld Duits
Feb 25, 2010 (5117 days ago)

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