CHEERZ, the app for cheering on your favorite idols, isn’t just limited to Japanese, but is also available in English, Chinese (Traditional), and now French, and is used by idol fans around the world. Every month at TGU, as part of our campaign, we come up with a way to have the top three monthly ranked girls of CHEERZ experience Japanese culture!

Our three guests this time are Karin Ochi from Iketeru Hearts, Haruhi Nakajima from Junes☆Princess, and Uchu Imagawa. In order to get them more acquainted with Japanese culture, and become successful idols overseas in the future, this time we visited a used kimono rental shop located in Asakusa, named shim.

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Although kimono rental isn’t anything new, shim specializes in procuring the finest and most tasteful kimono from vintage wholesalers or donated by neighbors, family, and hostesses from restaurants and inns. The store is run by just two staff members, and was opened to “bring out the best in each kimono by arranging them with obi (belts) and other items, and offer a space for younger people to appreciate kimono more”. shim also offers a unique service for men who would like to try wearing women’s kimono. The two shopkeepers, who used to work abroad in the fashion and make-up industry, started the shop because of the remorse they felt when they realized they knew next to nothing about kimono, despite being Japanese. They began to read up on kimono, and upon returning to Japan, opened shim in the spring of 2015.

So now without further ado, let the kimono-wearing experience begin! First things first, you have to choose which kimono you want to wear. Out of all the youthful and light color-based designs the shop had to offer, all three of the girls chose colors that were more subdued. shim staff complimented them by commenting, “You’re all so young, yet retro-chic. (laugh)” Apparently the kimono they wear are usually bright-colored, so they wanted to try on something a little more understated.

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The next step is choosing the eri (collar). Before the girls picked theirs out, the staff suggested choosing a bright color to better match the dark colors of their kimono. After that it was time to pick out an obi (belt), considered to be the most important element of the outfit. Obi sashes and cords can also be used to add a pop of color, so all three girls chose subtle colors for their obi before selecting bright-colored sashes that would peek out and make an impact.

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The staff dressed each of our idols up in the items they had chosen, and finally their outfits were complete. By adding some understated accessories for the finishing touch, they were all able to achieve a memorable and gorgeous vintage look.


 

The key points of today’s look

Karin Ochi/越智かりん

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This is my first time wearing a kimono that I can remember. (laugh) I don’t even wear yukata or anything like that… It’s a little uncomfortable (laugh), but it’s also a fresh feeling! I’ll be 18 on May 31st, so rather than come off as a schoolgirl I wanted to create an outfit that embodies the mindset of an 18-year-old woman, with a hint of colorfulness! It’s unusual for a pastel color-wearing idol like myself to wear something like this, but what do you think?

 

Haruhi Nakajima/中嶋春陽
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Since my grandmother has a lot of old kimono, I often have the chance to wear them. The two of us will dress up and go out together in them. Because of that, I really enjoyed today’s shoot! I really like inro (pouches made for kimono) and always carry one with me; I’ve always admired traditional Japanese designs. I also like family crests, and chose this particular design because I thought it resembled the chrysanthemum crest. And this checkered collar was unusual and cute, so I quickly decided to use it. (laugh)

 

Uchu Imagawa/今川宇宙

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All of the kimono I’d worn until now had been pretty bright. I just got through taking my Coming-of-Age-Day photos, and the kimono outfit I wore was practically all white, and made me look like a goody two-shoes. But today I tried to go for something that isn’t really rebelious or yakuza-like per se, but would give me the image of someone who gambles or something like that. (laugh) This gold obi is pretty badass. (laugh) So because I had this kind of theme in mind, it didn’t take me long to pick everything out.

Wearing their new outfits, they took a stroll through Asakusa at night. Rickshaws are one of the things Asakusa is well-known for, so the girls gave it a try. Pulled by a great-looking guy, they arrived at the Kaminarimon entrance of Senso-ji Temple. A big thank you to Mr. Ooya from Asakusa Rickshaw Matsukaze! (We’ll include more information on the rickshaw at the end.)

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After taking a night tour of Asakusa, our three idols returned to the shop. In order to get a better feel for Japanese kimono culture and feedback on the outfits they picked out, we sat down for an interview with shim’s staff.

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-What did you think about today?

Karin: While getting dressed I had some reservations about what it would all look like put together, but after I got everything on, I felt like the items I chose made for an incredible look that was much better than I had imagined it would turn out to be, so it felt like discovering a whole new me!

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-What do you think about Karin’s outfit?

Mr. Osakabe (shim): It’s cute! It’s very retro-chic. (laugh)

Mr. Abe (shim): I think out of all three it’s the cutest. It really has a Showa-era retro feel to it.

Haruhi: I was really looking forward to today’s shoot! It was so exciting just walking into a place full of kimono like this. My grandmother often dresses me up in kimono, but today I had the rare opportunity of being able to pick from so many different ones and it was a total blast.

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— How about Haruhi’s outfit?
中嶋さんのコーディネイトはどうですか?

Mr. Osakabe (shim): Today everyone picked out pretty plain kimono, but with their obi and sashes they were able to add a vivid burst of color, which gave their outfits a plain but pop-like feel- kind of retro-cool, but modern.

Uchu: Because there are so many different types of kimono, obi, and accessories, it felt the same as picking out an outfit in the morning, which was really fun. All of the kimono I’ve worn up until now were picked out by my mom, which were hand-me-downs from my sister, and so they were already paired together as a set. It was a new feeling and lots of fun to be able to put together an outfit of my own choosing.

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―That makes sense. So do you think her bad girl side came out? (laugh)

Mr. Osakabe (shim): I think it did. (laugh) I think her outfit looks the most retro-chic out of the three. I think the way she chose it was the most creative, too. It was like she completely ignored the original concept of the kimono (laugh), so it was fun for us to watch, too.

―How did you go about picking it out?

Uchu: What?! I just picked it out like I would normally go about picking out clothes at home! (laugh) Like let’s see… This looks like it would go well with this~

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Mr. Osakabe (shim): But since kimono were originally just regular clothes, I think that’s a good way to go about it. It’s better not to get too caught up on the traditionalism or concept behind them. So with that in mind, I think I’d have to say Uchu’s way of selecting her outfit was the most interesting; don’t you agree?

Uchu: Yay for me! (laugh)

Mr. Osakabe (shim): And surprisingly you were the first person to ever pick out this kimono. (laugh) But all three of you went about choosing your outfits in your own perceptive way.

-Is there anything you’d like to ask shim’s staff?

Haruhi: Yes! I often wear my grandmother’s vintage kimono, but do you have any pointers on how to create outfits that emphasize a certain point?

Mr. Abe (shim): If you insist on pairing a vintage kimono with all-vintage accessories, you’ll only end up looking old-fashioned in the eyes of modern women. Even if you’re using a plain kimono as a base, just by using a checkered collar like the one today will give it a current feel, so I think it’s good to incorporate something modern-looking.

Mr. Osakabe (shim): You can make collars yourself pretty easily! So you can buy modern-looking fabric for making collars, and try pairing them with your grandmother’s kimono. I’ll show you how!

Karin: You mentioned that a lot of overseas customers have visited the shop, but what kind of kimono do they usually pick out?

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Mr. Osakabe (shim): That’s a difficult one. Those from Europe or the U.S. and those from Asia have completely different tastes. Visitors from Asia usually prefer vivid colors like red and pink. Visitors from Europe or the U.S. usually have a traditional view of kimono, and seem to prefer styles more like what you three have picked out today.

Karin: I see~ When I think of ethnic Asian costumes, I feel like there are many that are bright and colorful.

-How about you, Uchu?

Uchu: Karin beat me to it! (laugh)

Karin: Also, I had been under the impression that the proper way to wear a kimono was to choose a loud color or pattern, so if I ever have the chance I’d like to tell people overseas that, like you said, you can choose a plain kimono and add a bright obi or sash and wear it that way! (laugh)

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Everyone: Kimono are really a lot of fun!

Mr. Osakabe (shim): I think being able to play with patterns one advantage with kimono. It’s not like that so much with regular clothing.

Mr. Abe (shim): Kimono are a part of Japanese culture, so I hope more young people will wear them. I mean if young people don’t wear them, kimono culture will eventually die out! (laugh) I want kimono culture to be passed down to future generations.


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It’s a shame that so many people don’t wear beautiful, used vintage kimono because they believe they’re too old-fashioned and not modern enough when it comes to color. The staff at shim showed us that there are so many different ways to wear them stylishly depending on how you dress them up. And by the way, since both of shim’s staff members are fluent in English, to all of you TGU users out there, don’t hesitate to drop by!

Shop information
shim website : http://www.shimjapan.com/
Address : 7-5, 1 chome Asakusa Taito-ku Tokyo 111-0032 Japan
Nearest station : Tokyo Metro Asakusa Station
Phone number : 03-5830-7074
Opening hour : 09:00 ~ 20:00

Asakusa Jinriki-sya Matsukaze : http://www.jinrikisha-matukaze.com/
Matsukaze Ooya-san phone number  : 090-4021-0121

Related links
CHEERZ official website : https://cheerz.cz/
Karin Ochi Twitter : https://twitter.com/kariin_riin
Haruhi Nakajima Twitter : https://twitter.com/harunsarun
Uchu Imagawa Twitter : https://twitter.com/uchusenshi

Photos by Nathan GEY
Translated by Jamie Koide

Author
Ayaya
Ayaya

Been working in girls’ fashion magazines for a long time and am now the chief editor of Tokyo Girls’ Update. I have more expertise in Japanese teen fashion than anyone else (probably)! I’m a huge fan of the Revolutionary Girl Utena and Bakemonogatari animes.

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