It’s funny how easy it is to spend years in a place and still not see and do everything on your list. After five years in Japan, I didn’t manage to visit Okinawa or Hokkaido. I didn’t climb Mt. Fuji or see a kabuki play. I don’t necessarily regret not having done these things, as I accomplished a lot, but I do wish that I’d tried harder to make them happen.
Once I’d booked my ticket back to the US, one thing that I was determined to make happen was to wear a kimono. I studied costume design in college and am obsessed with historical fashion and clothing, so it felt like a crime that I hadn’t worn one. But living in Kanazawa had given me a bad taste for rental kimono. There, it was trendy to rent a kimono to walk around the historic sights, but most of these rentals looked cheap and cheesy. Think pastels and pinks, large floral patterns, and questionable historical accuracy. No thank you. If I was to wear kimono, I wanted to do it the right way, in a manner that felt authentic and respectful.
Through a friend on Instagram, I’d started following inKIMONO, a kimono rental experience run by Stasia Matsumoto, a Polish-born kimono dresser/photographer. Nothing about her photos online were cheap and cheesy, and her photography style was edgy and interesting. It seemed like this would be a good fit for me.
And oh, what a good fit it turned out to be! Stasia works with each client individually and comes up with custom looks every time, coordinating the many pieces to make your dream kimono outfit. I had told her that I liked retro styles, bold colors, and graphic prints, and so we chose a Showa film heroine look, inspired by the styles of Japanese film actresses in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Our set was the Asakusa streets around her studio, a part of town that I love for it’s grungy, vintage Tokyo vibes. As our shoot was in June, we managed to get some good shots with the seasonal hydrangeas as well.
I wrote extensively about the experience for Japan Forward, so please follow this link to read more. However, not that many of the photos for the shoot were published with the article, so I wanted to share more here. To see Stasia’s work, check out her website or Instagram.
Now that I’m back in Los Angeles, I treasure these photos and memories of that day even more. It truly was a dream come true!
Safe and Happy Travels,