There are two areas in Kyoto known for antiques: Teramachi (north of Nijo, south of Marutamachi) and Shinmonzen. Both areas are perfect for window shopping and, naturally, shopping.
Teramachi, Kyoto's newest antique center, is more casual and, often, quite a bit cheaper. It also has a wide range of other interesting shops (highly recommended for high quality Asian handicrafts and art & tea ceremony accessories).
Shinmonzen, running west for about 500 meters from Higashioji just north of the Gion district, is the old center of Kyoto's antique industry. The shops here are less suited for window shopping, but interesting in every other way. Many shops in both areas specialize (for example Chinese/Japanese/Korean antiques, paintings, lacquer ware, ceramics, bronze, Japanese furniture, wood-block prints, wood carving, scrolls, Buddhist paintings and sculptures, pearls, glassware, tea ceremony utensils, kimonos, etc.), while others offer a crazy selection.
When it comes to antiques, prices are often not marked, and bargaining is expected. Most shops on both streets are open every day 10am-6pm (some are closed on Mondays). English is understood and spoken well in many shops.
Experience the exotic world of Kyoto antiques, and take something special home from Asia's streets of treasure.
Antique Wedding Kimonos
Like the Western wedding dress, the wedding kimono for brides in Japan is white too. In the Japanese wedding ceremony, a bright, white, silk kimono must show a stunning beauty, symbolizing that perfect moment in a young woman's life.
If you go to kimono shops or flea markets, you will find wedding kimonos. But the white ones are very rare, because of the traditional recycling practice of silk kimonos in Japan. Often, wives reworked their wedding kimono so that it could be used as a formal kimono, and in unusual cases the very fine fabric was used for baby diapers.
Nowadays, you only can find brocaded, colorful, antique, kimonos in original designs. Wedding brides wear this uchikake as a over-garment on top of layers of white silk kimonos. These brocaded wedding kimono are called uchikake. Uchikake kimonos are usually red based, brocaded on thick silk material with a long length. Its gold, silver, and many other colored threads create incredible patterns with traditional embroidery techniques.
The popular designs on wedding kimonos are often crane, turtle, pine tree, plum blossoms or bamboo. They are recognized as the symbols of longevity, happiness, prosperity or even fertility.
In the Edo period, uchikake was worn by high ranked women in the inner halls of the royal palace or shogun's castle. The gorgeous uchikake were the women's uniforms, in a sense, to show each other their rank in the hierarchy.
This custom made uchikake to be understood as a status symbol of gorgeousness and wealth. Since the wedding ceremony is the highlight of every family, uchikake began to be worn for the wedding ceremony.
Uchikake is also seen in Noh costumes sometimes, too. Uchikake material is made using a special weaving technique known as karaori, nishiki-ori, kinran-ori, or donsu-ori. This special weaving method creates raised figures such as birds and flowers and is one of the most amazing arts of the Japanese textile world.
Kyoto’s famous Nishijin textile area began producing karaori in the 16th century. In documents from the 17th century, it is recorded that it takes 70 days to weave a 120 cm long, 30cm wide piece of karaori material.
Written by Ian Ropke, founder and owner of Your Japan Private Tours: Japan-wide travel expert since 1992. Ian and his team offer personalized quality private travel services all over Japan. To learn more, visit www.kyoto-tokyo-private-tours.com or call us on +1-415-230-0579 | +81-5534-4372